Funding Terror In East Timor (6/00)

Statement to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights
May 11, 2000

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Allan Nairn. Last fall I testified before this committee after witnessing the final days of the physical destruction of East Timor by the Indonesian armed forces (TNI). I recently returned to a free East Timor, and also managed to enter Indonesia and examine military operations in the rural zones.

The Indonesian military and security forces are now politically discredited, and the movement against them — that began in the streets — has now reached the Jakarta elites. Freedom and democracy are now within realistic reach in Indonesia, but only if the illegitimate power of the armed and security forces can be broken. The key determining factors in this struggle will be continued protest on the ground and action by the US Congress to maintain and strengthen the current military aid ban.

Pro-democracy action will have to come from Congress, though, because the Clinton administration is now attempting to shore up the politically fading TNI. Unbeknownst to the public and to many in Congress they are looking for ways to aid a military that still pursues a policy of terror against civilians.

In Aceh, where I visited, the Army and National Police (POLRI) [backed by the Air Force and Navy], are sweeping through rural villages, sometimes killing civilians at a rate of three to six per day. Some of the units leading this campaign, including the POLRI’s Gegana and BRIMOB have now been slated for new lethal training from Washington.

In several areas, including West Kalimantan, where I also was, military and police intelligence have been stirring and exacerbating ethnic fighting. Near one town I visited, the POLRI were actually handing out a printed hit list of eight individuals who were being hunted by a lynch mob of armed young men who had seized the town. The police stood back and watched as they burned buses and ran wild. Local residents said that this was a common occurrence in the zone.

These tactics are consistent with the policy enunciated in secret TNI documents recently left behind after the TNI quit East Timor. The documents, many recovered by Yayasan Hak, the Timorese human rights group, include a covert operations manual for the notorious  Kopassus red berets. This classified manual (Buku Petunjuk tentang Sandi Yudha TNI AD, Nomor: 43-B-01; issued June 30, 1999) states that Kopassus personnel are to be prepared in the "tactic and technique" of "terror" and "kidnapping." It is signed and authorized by numerous senior officers including Gen. Johny Lumintang, the longtime US protege touted by the State Department as a "moderate," who was recently served with a crimes against humanity lawsuit shortly after attending a gathering at the  US National Defense University (After the suit was filed, US Ambassador Gelbard expressed regret and praised Gen. Lumintang as a "friend" of the United States). The Kopassus manual meshes with other recovered documents which make it clear that violence against civilians is still a core doctrine of TNI.

Yet, despite this, the administration is now trying to move on several fronts to restore material US support for the Indonesian armed forces.

Unbeknownst to the public and to many in Congress the administration is now going forward with plans to stage a CARAT  (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) military exercise with the TNI this summer. CARAT is a large scale exercise involving Navy, Marines, and other forces that stages simulated amphibious invasions of Indonesian islands. According to a Pentagon memo ("Response to Congressman Lane Evans et. al," July 15, 1998) previous CARATs have included: "Amphibious landing, patrolling, live fire cross training, parachute training, fast rope, small boat ops, reconnaissance surveillance, [and] raids."

The 1998 CARAT was cancelled after the Congressional uproar over JCET (Joint Combined Exchange Training), the program under which the US taught urban warfare and sniper technique in circumvention of the congressional ban on US military training for Indonesia.

But last year, in 1999, as the Timor terror built toward a climax, the Pentagon went ahead with another CARAT just before the independence vote (CARAT was August 11-25.  The vote was on August 30.).  Not only, by this timing, did the US reaffirm faith in TNI at the crucial moment, but it also explicitly prepared Indonesian officers who immediately after CARAT went straight into East Timor for the final weeks of the terror campaign.

One of these officers, Lt. Col. (later Col.) Willem, helped coordinate the Indonesian naval forces in CARAT and then went to Dili where he served as a senior official in KOREM military hedquarters, the very base from which the Aitarak militias staged their terror raids during late September. I saw this first hand since I was a prisoner in KOREM and was interrogated by Col Willem, who , since his Timor stint, has been promoted to head the personal staff of Admiral Widodo, the new national TNI commander.

If the Pentagon and TNI hold another CARAT this summer they will not have missed a beat: Exercise in August, 1999. Move on to destroy East Timor. Then exercise again in summer 2000, as if nothing untoward had happened.

In addition to CARAT the administration has also approved TNI attendance at a US-Thai exercise, Cobra Gold, that is underway right now (May 9-23). In the recent past, according to the Pentagon’s Asia-Pacific Defense FORUM (Spring, 1998 issue)  Cobra Gold has involved "combined air assault," "combined amphibious assault," infantry insertion, "unconventional warfare," "weapons training, [and] camouflage techniques," simulated "guerrilla" bases, "direct action, special reconaissance, foreign internal defense and counter terrorism."

If Congress lets the administration get away with this attempt to shore up the TNI, they then intend to move forward with a multi-phased plan to restore other types of aid.

On another bureaucratic track, the US Embassy in Jakarta, the CIA and other agencies are already planning new lethal training for the POLRI, including their notorious Gegana and BRIMOB special units. The Police were an integral part of the Timor terror. They took the lead in the mass abuctions. And they are at the forefront of the sweeps killing civilians in Aceh. A 1999 US Marine Corps intelligence seminar (The Indonesia Joint Cultural Intelligence Seminar, Wargaming Division, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.  Seminar held January 14, 1999) concluded that "The Indonesian Police Force is one of the most disliked/hated organizations in the country — on a daily basis the Police are the most visible instrument of government oppression." The categorized the POLRI as being among the "Groups to Avoid" in Indonesia.

Yet POLRI documents indicate that the Police have in the recent past received training from the FBI and other US agencies in topics including "explosive incident and counter measures."  Now the administration is privately planning to resume police counter-terrorism training with a specific eye to what Ambassador Gelbard has called Muslim extremists in Aceh.

Since there is little dispute that POLRI kills civilians for political ends — and since such a use of violence is, of course, the definition of terrorism — the Clinton administration is now, in effect, planning to train terrorists in anti-terrorism. These are lethal skills that up to now have been applied not to defend civilians but rather to abduct and kill them if the military and police do not like their views.

This article was provided by the East Timor Action Network (ETAN). For more information, send a blank e-mail message to, visit the ETAN website at, or e-mail John M. Miller,