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06JAKARTA4511 2006-04-07 09:30:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
Cable title:  

ConGen Meets with Solo Leaders

Tags:   PTER ASEC PGOV KISL ID 
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1. (C) Summary: ConGen Surabaya Principal Officer
Pierangelo and Econ/PolOff Williams traveled to the
Central Java city of Solo (also known as Surakarta)
on Wednesday April 5, meeting with Mayor Joko
Widodo, Solo Chief of Police Yotje Mende, and with
Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta (UMS) rector
Bambang Setiaji. Police Chief Mende and his force
are working hard to face what they say are their key
challenges?local radical Islamic groups, and the
imminent return to the area of Jemaah Islamiya emir
Abu Bakar Ba?asyir. Mayor Widodo was upbeat about
the area?s economic prospects, and appears committed
to building interfaith tolerance to counter radical
sentiments. Rector Setiaji warmly welcomed ConGen?s
visit, and sought closer future ties between his
university and the United States. End Summary.

Police Chief: Monitoring Radical Muslim Groups


--------------------------

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2. (C) Solo Police Chief Mende is new to his
position, having arrived in Solo about one month
ago. (Note: Mende served the last eight years in
Jakarta in the narcotics division and has a previous
assignment as a police chief in the Yogyakarta area;
he is originally from North Sulawesi. End Note.)
Mende told PO and Econ/PolOff that the Solo police
force?s most pressing issue is security related to
hard-line Muslim ?NGOs? based in the city, including
the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), the Solo
branch of the Indonesian Defenders Front (FPI), and
the local ?Hizbollah? Islamic group. Mende and his
Head of Intelligence, Budi Sutrisno, described
extensive and well-organized efforts by police to
monitor these groups and their Islamic schools
(pesantren). Mende also noted that Solo-based
militant Islamic groups tend to leave Solo to make
trouble. Two weeks ago, Solo police received word
that Islamic militants were assembling to travel to
Bojonegoro, East Java to protest at the site of the
Cepu oilfield run by ExxonMobil. According to
Mende, he gave the order for police to set up
roadblocks and stop the protestors. One protester
was briefly detained and has since been released.
Mende also provided information that Suprapto, a
member of the national legislature (DPR) Commission
VII, had sponsored the attempted Cepu protest and
that another unnamed ?former national official? had
been in Solo to incite the demonstrators. (Note:
We find no record of a Suprapto in Commission VII or
in the current DPR. End Note.)

Bracing for Return of Ba?asyir


--------------------------





3. (C) Solo police officials are highly concerned
about the impending June release of Jemaah Islamiyah
(JI) emir Abu Bakar Ba?asyir, to his Solo-area
pesantren al-Mukhmin. Police anticipate large
demonstrations around the city in support of
Ba?asyir following his release, and are preparing to
control the demonstrations. Mende will bring in
additional resources from other areas of the
province to supplement his 5,000 officer force in an
effort to contain protests.

Mayor: Economy Healthy ?Despite Ba?asyir?


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Solo Mayor Joko Widodo (known locally as
?Jokowi?) is also relatively new to his position,
elected seven months ago as the Indonesian
Democratic Party?Struggle (PDI-P) candidate. Widodo
told us he has a background in business and owns a
local furniture export company. He was upbeat about
the Solo economy, touting good employment prospects

JAKARTA 00004511 002 OF 002


in local furniture and textile factories and a high
per capita income in the region. He sees his
greatest challenge as encouraging investment in
Solo. ?I do not want Solo to be defined by
Ba?asyir,? he stated firmly. ?Only two or three
percent of the population can be defined as hard-
liners, the rest are moderates.? He noted that
several foreign companies have recently invested in
Solo, including the Makro and Carrefour supermarket
chains. Widodo also formed an inter-faith
discussion group shortly after his election, and
meets regularly with local Christian and Muslim
leaders to discuss community issues and improve
communication between these groups.

Muhammadiyah Rector: Looking to the US


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Muhammadiyah University ? Solo Rector
Bambang Setiaji and his department heads unanimously
expressed a strong desire to increase ties with the
USG and ConGen Surabaya during a wide-ranging two
hour meeting with PO and Econ/PolOff. UMS has
applied to host an American Corner in their library
and are eager to participate in any future visiting
professor programs offered by the USG. Setiaji told
us he is concerned that UMS has received outside
funding for English language training for some of
its faculty members, but none have chosen to study
in the US--all opting for study in Australia, Canada
or the United Kingdom. According to Setiaji, some
faculty were fearful of encountering anti-Muslim
sentiments while visiting the US while others were
not confident about their ability successfully
obtain a visa for their course of study. PO
described the Fulbright program and recent
improvements to our visa processing systems and
assured Setiaji that we would continue to search for
opportunities to cooperate with UMS.

COMMENT


--------------------------





6. (C) Over the past few years, Solo?s reputation
internationally has changed from a haven of Javanese
culture, to a haven for Islamic radical groups, even
though the overwhelming majority of Solo?s
population do not support violent extremism. City
officials appear well aware of this dynamic, and
equally as committed to addressing it, whether
through interfaith forums or additional security
measures. In particular, Police Chief Mende and his
staff appear to be on top of the potential threats
from militant Islamic organizations facing Solo, and
taking the security situation there very seriously.
Mende?s relative openness and willingness to share
sensitive information with us suggests that he will
be an able future partner on CT efforts, including
as he moves up the ranks.

PASCOE