Fri, 29 Dec 2000

Intelligence system being restructured, Mahfud says

YOGYAKARTA (JP): The government is revamping the national intelligence system as recent terrorist attacks have proven the weaknesses of the old institution, Defense Minister M. Mahfud MD. revealed on Thursday.

"I, along with Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Social Welfare Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Bakin chief Arie J. Kumaat, have been assigned by the President to restructure the system," Mahfud told reporters at his private residence here.

The plan came amid a series of bomb attacks which hit almost 14 cities simultaneously across the country on Christmas eve, leaving 16 people dead and almost 120 others wounded.

On the agenda for the reform program, Mahfud said, will be the introduction of the State Intelligence Body (BIN), which will replace the current State Intelligence Coordinating Body (Bakin).

Unlike Bakin, BIN will adopt an integrated system comprising various state intelligence bodies.

The defense ministry has also established a new unit dealing with intelligence affairs called Directorate General of Strategic Environment Analysis. The unit has two directors whose jobs are to support intelligence and counter intelligence activities.

"The presidential decree on the new directorate general and the directors has been signed on Dec. 21," Mahfud said.

He said establishing an effective intelligence system requires huge and unlimited funds because criminals who wish to undermine the state also have a lot of money to finance their operations.

"Our intelligence officers are paid Rp 8,000 (less than US$1) a day, so it's obvious they cannot match the rich criminals," Mahfud said.

He believed that Monday's bombings of churches across the country were masterminded by a certain group and involved huge funds.

"We surmised the people belong to an affluent group and the perpetrator is probably living in Jakarta," he said.

"Our analysis is the attacks were masterminded by people who used to enjoy power during the New Order, not necessarily Pak Harto who may not even know anything about the bombings. The people are now exploiting their money and resources to hamper the reform movement."

The former officials are believed to hold "trump cards" to force their successors to prevent any attempt to bring them to justice, Mahfud said.

"So we must find a breakthrough to help the current state officials eliminate the psychological obstacles facing them in fighting the troublemakers," he said.

Mahfud hailed the recent establishment of a pressure group, Forum Indonesia Damai (Indonesia Forum for Peace), to urge the government to speed up the investigation into the bombings. (23/jun)