Combating Terror: Indonesia's Legislative and Law Enforcement Response to Terrorism

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Doctoral Thesis


The thesis examines Indonesia’s state responses to terrorism and provides a critical analysis of the major legislative instruments for prosecuting and eradicating the crime of terrorism – most notably, Law No. 15 of 2003 the ‘ATL’ – enacted in the aftermath of coordinated bomb attacks which killed hundreds of civilians, both local residents and foreign tourists, on the island of Bali in October, 2002. In providing context to the enactment of the law, the thesis takes account of the complex socio-political factors existing during the early part of Indonesia’s transition from authoritarian regime to democracy – a period known as reformasi – which contributed indirectly to a major resurgence of jihadist terrorism.
The thesis also gives attention to tracing the historical trajectory of Islamist
groups which have perpetrated religiously inspired violence in Indonesia for almost two centuries – and which have continued to operate in various forms since 2002 – adapting their strategies to evade infiltration by police. While pre-reformasi governmental responses, both colonial and post-independence, were primarily military in nature, the thesis shows that two major events, the fall of Soeharto and the Bali bombing of 2002, rovided a catalyst for a complete transformation of Indonesian state responses to terrorism. This transformation included the enactment of specific antiterrorism legislation and the subsequent creation of dedicated counter-terrorism bodies such as Densus 88 and the National Counter-terrorism Agency. It also opened Indonesia’s foreign policy and allowed unprecedented levels of cooperation and funding from international allies in counter-terrorism. This transformation led to a criminal law-based approach to terrorism, as distinct from a military insurgency approach, which has led to the prosecution, arrest and execution of hundreds of terrorist suspects and has garnered much international praise for Indonesian authorities due to their ostensible successes in counter-terrorism.
However, closer examination of the provisions of Indonesia’s legislation and its application by police, prosecutors and the courts indicates a number of serious flaws. The ‘definition’ of terrorism contained in Indonesia’s ATL is out of step with international norms and its politically-influenced application has led to illogical and inconsistent prosecutorial and sentencing outcomes. Calls to revise terrorism laws to close loopholes and address new developments such as the rise of ISIS have gone unheeded, leaving enforcement authorities in a compromised position.
The thesis accounts for the latest phase of terrorist activity in Indonesia, the growth of support for ISIS from 2014, and the legal position relating to Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Indonesia’s commitments under international law and concludes with a number of recommendations to enhance Indonesia’s counter-terrorism regime.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Darwin University
  • Price, David, Supervisor, External person
  • Hiariej, Eddy O. S. , Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Oct 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Terrorism
  • Indonesia
  • Legislation
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Law enforcement


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