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DFAT upgrade warnings of terrorist threat in Indonesia

DFAT, last night upgraded their travel advice for Indonesia to a 'high risk' due to the potential of a terrorist attack over the New Year period.

The threats are a result of several factors that our institute believes has heightened the risk for travelers from Australia heading to Indonesia and including Bali as follows:

1. The collapse of Jemaah Islamiyah several years ago has seen numerous 'splinter cells' being formed throughout Indonesia. These small groups, whilst lacking the sophistication of JI, are much harder to trace and monitor.

Indonesian police have last year raided several of these small groups and found evidence of planned attacks on sites in Java and Bali.

The ICG informed our institute last year that whilst the opportunity for a terror attack similar in size and sophistication to those that occurred in Bali in 2002 and 2005 is 'unlikely' there exists ongoing concerns that smaller splinter groups could carry out an attack that could potentially still inflict serious injury and death to tourists and citizens of Indonesia.

2. The departure from Indonesia in mid 2013 of the world-renowned and respected Sidney Jones from the NGO, International Crisis Group has gone mostly unreported. Jones' knowledge and connections with the 'terrorist world' were unmatched. Her understanding of how these groups function within Indonesia provided Australian and Indonesia police - and public - with accurate and valuable information. This has now been lost.

3. The current strained political relations between Australia and Indonesia has seen a substantial reduction in co-operation between most government department from both countries.

We should not under-estimate just how valuable the AFP and Indonesia's National Police Force have been over the past ten years in combating terrorist activities. Their relationship should be a perfect example of how quite two quite different countries can form a highly valuable and deep 'partnership' to the benefit of our respective communities.

This relationship is still strong but is being harmed by the current political issues between our two governments.

4. Pictures of drunken, fighting and rude Australians in Bali provide a 'good' supply of propaganda for anti-western groups in Indonesia who are only too willing to project our behaviour as decadent and disrespectful. For this reason Australians visiting Bali should behave in a respectful and courteous way, whilst still enjoying a great holiday in our 'island paradise'.

If you wish to discuss any of the above comments please feel free to call us.

ENDS

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