Indonesia’s Spy Chief Nominee Wants to Beef Up Cyber Defense Against IS

By Aditya Surya
150702-ID-BIN-620 Spy chief nominee Sutiyoso appears at a press conference in Jakarta on May 30, 2007.

The retired army general poised to head Indonesia’s state intelligence agency (BIN) pledged Thursday to take the fight against the Islamic State (IS) into cyberspace, where the militant group attracts new recruits and extends its influence in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

"IS ideology and action are both misleading,” Sutiyoso told BenarNews in an interview on Thursday. “Therefore, Indonesia must be serious to overcome this situation. We should ensure that our young generations know about IS so they will not follow their wrong ideology and teachings.

"We will fight IS with the same methods they are using, among other things, through cyberspace," he said, noting that IS has been recruiting followers through social media. "This will be one of the important agenda items for BIN."

Sutiyoso, a retired army lieutenant general who had spent much of his military career in the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus), was appointed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the head of BIN on June 10th to replace Marciano Norman.

Revamping BIN

Jokowi on Thursday summoned Sutiyoso to the state palace and spoke to him about revamping BIN, reports said, two days after he secured approval for his candidacy from all 10 political parties at the House of Representatives ahead of an expected official approval in a plenary session soon.

Sutiyoso told BenarNews that Jokowi has ordered him to reform BIN’s organizational structure to ensure the agency runs effectively, saying he would recruit more personnel to cope with increasing challenges.

"Well, this is a formidable challenge to undertake an organizational improvement and increase the effectiveness of BIN, including in counter-terrorism," he said while indicating that he would recruit about 1,000 new staff although the agency needs to employ five times that number.

"[With new recruits,] we can meet the demands of today's intelligence – including defending Indonesia from threats coming from cyberspace [Internet]," said Sutiyoso, who previously served as Jakarta governor from 1997 to 2007.

"BIN’s responsibility is very broad, not only in Indonesia but also abroad," he told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday, explaining that BIN needs at least 5,000 personnel.

BIN has 1,975 personnel at present.

"An additional 1,000 new personnel will greatly help BIN’s performance and efficiency."

Sutiyoso had served as Chairman of the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) prior to his nomination as the head of BIN.

The 70-year-old Sutiyoso expressed confidence in his ability to lead BIN, citing his strong and diverse background.

Cyber wars

Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam), said the country needs to strengthen efforts in cyberspace to counter and deter IS ideology.

"Indonesia agrees that IS’s ideology should neither exist nor flourish, but without strengthening our cyber efforts, it will be difficult to counter the ideology," he told BenarNews.

"We should not limit the rights of every individual to speak, but radical sites should be monitored – and, if necessary, blocked. Once the ideology is entrenched among Indonesians, it will be more difficult to overcome," he continued.

Irfan Idris, spokesman for Indonesia's National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), said that IS is spreading radical ideology throughout the world via the internet and targeting the young.

"Just look at the last attacks that occurred in three countries [Tunisia, France and Kuwait] on June 26. It has the same pattern: suicide, committed by young people, and with the ideology inspired by IS," he told BenarNews on Thursday.

"Most likely they were radicalized individually. Therefore we have to break this wrong ideology among the youth of Indonesia," said Irfan.

IS claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait and appears to have inspired the attack in France.

Sutiyoso was grilled by the House of Representatives commission overseeing intelligence, defense and foreign affairs earlier this week before all parties in the panel approved his nomination.

"We must ensure that the new BIN Chief has the capacity to cope with any possible threat against Indonesia’s defense from inside and outside the country," Mahfud Siddiq, a member of the commission, said Thursday.

The deputy chairman of the commission, Tantowi Yahya, said threats from what he called deviant ideology against the state ideology of Pancasila are extensive and growing.

"IS is a real example of such threats. Therefore, BIN needs to provide a strong cyber defense. In the future, intelligence should not only be conventional but also extend towards information and technology," he said.


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