Death penalty for terrorists

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    From the Straits Times in Singapore:

    By Robert Go

    JAKARTA - President Megawati Sukarnoputri is expected to announce a tough anti-terrorism decree today and assume unprecedented powers that can be used to combat terrorist groups operating in Indonesia, such as the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and Al-Qaeda.

    The move came after Ms Megawati told Parliament leaders that Indonesia had to take a hard line against terrorism or risk being labelled 'a terrorist nest' by the international community.

    Already, Indonesia is facing intense international pressure to crack down on terrorists in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Bali on Oct 12, which killed more than 180 foreign tourists and injured hundreds of others.

    Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra told reporters that under the new decree, those convicted of committing or planning terror acts will face the death penalty.

    Also, the government will empower intelligence officers to arrest those who are seen as a threat to security and order extended detention for suspected terrorists.

    Chief Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: 'Indonesian citizens are involved in JI activities in Singapore and Malaysia. With the United Nations declaring JI an international terrorist group, Indonesia will take action against these people.'

    Another reason for the need for quick action is that Omar al-Faruq - a Kuwaiti national who was arrested in West Java in June and subsequently handed over to the United States - had confessed to being a part of Al-Qaeda's conspiracy to assassinate Ms Megawati and organise a series of bomb attacks in concert with a number of Indonesians, including Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

    Meanwhile, investigators are making headway against the terrorists who planted a car bomb in Bali.

    Sources said the hunt was now on for as many as eight people, including a Yemeni and a Malaysian, who had fled to Java immediately after the blasts.

    Four Bali residents, who apparently witnessed how the attack took place, are now helping the investigating team, which consists of anti-crime officers from seven countries, in the probe.

    Forensic experts have identified 41 bodies by matching dental records, personal belongings and fingerprints, but many others are so badly burnt that DNA identification methods would have to be used.

    The rupiah and the stock markets, which plunged on Monday, have recovered slightly, but economic experts are projecting at least a mid-term slump depending on how quickly Jakarta acts against terror and reassures foreign and domestic businessmen.

    A bomb scare also hit the stock exchange building in Jakarta yesterday, highlighting the edginess and insecurity that still prevail throughout the country.
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