Jakarta clamps down on visitors of terror inmates

Indonesia will tighten visitation rights of terror inmates in a bid to silence those who spread violent ideology from behind the prison walls.

This follows revelations that militants behind the Jan 14 attacks in Jakarta were influenced and possibly directed by extremist ideologue Aman Abdurrahman who is now serving a nine-year jail sentence for funding a terrorist training camp in Aceh.

Two government sources told The Straits Times that the move to restrict visits will be put in place this week, starting with inmates marked "teroris ideolog" or ideologist terrorists in Bahasa Indonesia.

These inmates can only be visited by their parents, siblings and children. If they are married, their spouse and parents-in-law can visit as well.

It is understood that besides Aman, 44, book bomber Pepi Fernando, 36, and firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, 77, are also on the list of inmates with restricted visitation rights.

Terror analysts like Ridwan Habib, a researcher at the University of Indonesia, welcomed the government's latest move. They said it can be a gamechanger - especially for the country's prison system, often regarded as one of Indonesia's weak links in its fight against terror.

Mr Ridwan said he knows of guests visiting Aman who have left the prison complex with notes written by him, as well as recordings of his sermons. These would later be distributed outside the prison.

Also, tighter body searches on anyone visiting terror inmates and the visitation restrictions can reduce the risk of violent ideology being spread beyond prisons.

"Such restrictions wouldn't spark protests from the human rights advocates as long as inmates continue to have access to food, drinks and be allowed to pray, and meet their wives and family members," he said.


Get MyPaper for more stories.