Operasi Rahasia Kopassus dan BIN Untuk
Mempengaruhi Hasil Pemilu
Indonesian Special Forces, Intelligence,
in Covert Operation to Influence
July 5, 2014
By Allan Nairn
Indonesia's army special forces (Kopassus)
and the state intelligence agency (BIN)
are involved in a covert operation to
influence the presidential election.
According to documented accounts
of recent meetings at Kopassus
headquarters, the operation is designed
to ensure that the July 9 vote count
will be won by General Prabowo Subianto,
the former Kopassus commander
who was a longtime
protege of the Pentagon and US
The topic was a covert
operation to make Prabowo president.
Among those present were veterans of
covert ops in Aceh and West Papua.
Although it is extraordinary --
stealing a civilian election for one
of the candidates, the commander
referred to it as an extension of
normal special forces tactics "an
operation 'a la Kopassus.'" ("operasi
'a la Kopassus').
Polls suggest that General Prabowo is
currently running neck-and-neck with his
civilian opponent, Joko Widodo,
popularly known as Jokowi, the governor
Prabowo and Jokowi are scheduled to face
off in their final televised debate this
The vote across the archipelago and the
Indonesian global diaspora is expected
to be the second-largest in the world
this year. The largest was completed
last May in India.
Prabowo has been implicated in
killing civilians and in torture.
Though currently running as an ardent
nationalist, he spent his army career
with the US Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA) and with top US leadership,
as well as with US
Special Forces whom he brought, armed,
Prabowo has called for
rolling back Indonesians' right to
vote in direct elections. He has
suggested that this be done after
consultation with "the
In two off-the-record 2001 discussions
with me Prabowo said Indonesia "is
not ready for democracy." He said
that the country's then-president, the
popular civilian Muslim cleric
Gus Dur, was an "embarrass[ment]" to
Indonesia because Gus Dur was legally
blind. Prabowo lamented that the army
obeyed Gus Dur, and mused about his own
political future. "Do I have the guts,"
Prabowo asked himself, "am I ready to be
called a fascist dictator?"
My reporting and commentary about
General Prabowo has become an issue in
The Prabowo campaign denounced me as "an
enemy of the nation" and suggested
the army should
capture me. The armed forces stated
I have "become
an operational target." General
Prabowo himself gave a speech on
Thursday in which he
implored Indonesia's poor to
discount my reporting about him
because I am a foreigner.
The accounts below come from individuals
who are involved in the Kopassus/BIN
operation. They spoke to me on condition
The accounts of meetings at Kopassus
headquarters in Cijantung come from
sources who were present.
A July 4 call for comment to General
Prabowo went unanswered. The call was
made to a private cell phone number
through which I have contacted Prabowo
The Kopassus headquarters in Cijantung,
East Jakarta, is a famous venue in
It is the site where pro-democracy
activists who were kidnapped by
Prabowo's Kopassus were tortured and,
apparently, executed, in 1997-'98. This
was during uprising against General
Prabowo's father-in-law, the US-backed
dictator, General Suharto.
Thirteen of those abductees are still
missing, presumed dead. One of Prabowo's
top campaigners (Gen. Kivlan Zein) says
he knows where the bodies are buried.
Cijantung is also one of the sites of US
training of Kopassus, and of numerous
visits to Kopassus by US dignitaries.
Under Prabowo these included generals,
Commanders in Chief Pacific(CINCPACs),
and Secretaries of Defense.
On a date this week which the sources
involved have asked that I not specify,
senior Kopassus operatives held a
nighttime meeting at Cijantung.
The topic was a covert operation to make
Among those present were veterans of
covert ops in Aceh and West Papua.
The lead commander started the session
by saying "You just relax. We've all
worked, friends have worked, and we've
won -- Kopassus and Prabowo's people,
we've won." ("Kamu nyantai aja, kita
udah kerja, teman-teman udah kerja semua
dan kita menang -- Kopassus dan orangnya
Prabowo, kita menang").
They referred to it as a "special
operation" ("operas khusus") by "this
special force" ("pasukan khusus ini").
Although it is extraordinary -- stealing
a civilian election for one of the
candidates, the commander referred to it
as an extension of normal special forces
tactics "an operation 'a la Kopassus.'"
("operasi 'a la Kopassus').
According to a participant, the
operation started after Indonesia's
legislative elections in April when
Prabowo and Jokowi emerged as the two
Indonesian law, the armed forces and
intelligence agencies must be neutral.
Active members of the armed forces, the
TNI, do not even have the right to vote.
The current president of Indonesia is
another retired general, Prabowo's
former superior, Susilo Bambang
Susilo has been technically neutral in
the election, though he has sent recent
public signals that he is backing
According to the contents of this and
other meetings and to those directly
involved, the operation involves ballot
tampering, street violence, and threats
against Jokowi supporters, and could
involve, in extremis, "the elimination
of people" ("habisi orang") if need be.
It also involves lesser actions,
including those necessitated by -- in
their view -- the fact that my article
quoting Prabowo insulting Gus Dur has
become a grassroots issue.
Last week, after I released the article,
banners began appearing on the streets
juxtaposing a photo of the
well-remembered Gus Dur alongside the
"The military even obeys a blind
president! Imagine! Look at him, he's
embarrassing! Look at Tony Blair, Bush,
Putin. Young, ganteng [handsome] -- and
we have a blind man!"
According to one operative, the Gus Dur
banner matter, "really frightened,
really hurt" ("soal spanduk itu sangat
takuti di dalam, sangat buat mereka ini
merugikan…") the Kopassus/BIN team
So street men with Kopassus motorcycles
have been assigned to go out and yank
down those Gus Dur banners.
The issue, nonetheless, still stands.
This past Thursday, at their request, I
met in Jakarta with the Gus Dur family.
the Late Gus Dur," "Terkait
Almarhum Gus Dur").
The ballot tampering part of
the Kopassus/ BIN operation does not
involve the national central vote
tabulation, but rather the count in
key local precincts. It involves the
ongoing deployment of covert money,
"money that is not seen, money from
the side of the road." The purpose
of that money, almost all in cash,
is to "play with the ballot papers"
("main dengan kertas suara") by
placing agents inside counting rooms
or paying off state employees who
guard the ballot boxes.
The ballot tampering part of the
Kopassus/ BIN operation -- at least as
discussed at the level my sources know
of, does not involve the national
central vote tabulation, but rather the
count in key local precincts.
It involves the ongoing deployment of
covert money, "money that is not seen,
money from the side of the road" ("uang
itu tidak kelihatan, uang di pinggir
The purpose of that money, almost all in
cash, is to "play with the ballot
papers" ("main dengan kertas suara") by
placing agents inside counting rooms or
paying off state employees who guard the
This effort is particularly concentrated
in Central, West, and East Java, but is
said to involve parts of all provinces.
According to participants, the money is
being distributed via Kopassus and BIN,
but the ultimate source of the funds is
a secret, "very closed" matter ("sangat
tertutup sumbernya dari mana").
According to those involved, the
operation is being run by senior
commanders. In the case of Kopassus,
they are actually unsure of the role of
top Kopassus commander, General Agus
Sutomo, but it was claimed at one
Cijantung meeting that approval had come
from the President, General Susilo, as
"a direct order" ("perintah langsung")
in recent weeks, and that operational
coordination was coming -- outside the
chain of command -- from Prabowo.
(Prabowo was actually fired from the
army after he lost a '98 power struggle.
Gen. Susilo was one of the generals who
signed the order that removed him).
In the case of BIN, though, the current
BIN commander, ex army general Marciano
Norman, is said to fully on board with
the operation. Marciano is close to
Aburizal Bakrie, the oligarch and
has a relationship with the CIA. But it
is not clear how, if at all, the CIA
relates to this.
Many Indonesians have stated their worry
that this election could involve
The Kopassus/BIN operation has quietly
started deploying it on Prabowo's side.
Among those in the room at some
Cijantung meetings were organizers of
civilian agents whose task from Kopassus
is to "ribut di bawah," make trouble
Some participants spoke of personally
leading paid crowds that attacked and
broke up pro-Jokowi or other gatherings.
They have worked with private Prabowo
street militias that have gotten
training in Bogor. Some such units are
described as "having been trained, and
frequently rob/ plunder wherever" ("..sudah
berlatih, [dan] sering merampok ke mana
This often-used Kopassus/ BIN tactic has
supplemented another standard approach:
anonymous calls and text messages
threatening the target or their loved
ones with death, or worse. An old leaked
Kopassus training manual actually refers
to this formally, saying that Kopassus
men must be trained "in the tactic and
technique of terror."
As to carrying through on those threats,
Kopassus political murder has a long
history. BIN is known for its elaborate
technique, like the arsenic used to kill
But assassination in a national election
is a sensitive matter. At one of the
Cijantung meetings it was stated that if
worse came to worse they might have to
"take people, finish people off" ("ambil
orang, habisi orang"), as General
Prabowo's Kopassus did during the
But today it is a different world.
Covert operators must be politically
sensitive. One made the comment
regarding some targets, "one can wound
them," ("bisa melukai"), perhaps not
But more to the point, it was stated at
one session, regarding killing: "under
current conditions, people from the [Jokowi]
top ranks, don't" ("paling tidak, dalam
kondisi ini, dari kubu [Jokowi], jangan."
But as to "small [Jokowi] employees --
who knows? It's nothing to worry about."
("karyawan kecil -- entah, nggak apa-apa.").
This policy closely parallels what
Prabowo told me about massacre, in 2001:
don't do it in a capital, in front of
witnesses, but "in villages where no one
will ever know." (See: "Do I have the
guts," Prabowo asked, "am I ready to be
called a fascist dictator?").
Referring to planning for these possible
upcoming killings/ woundings, one of the
Kopassus Cijantung commanders said: "orang
sipil tidak bisa, hanya Kopassus yang
bisa" -- civilians will not be handling
them, "only Kopassus."
This is a reference to the fact that
much of the operational work on the
ground is being done by civilians who
covertly work as full or part-time
On November 9, 2010
I released secret Kopassus documents
that, among other things, included a
list of activists targeted by Kopassus,
but which also detailed the network of
Kopassus civilian agents, in that case
in West Papua.
Based on Kopassus personnel files I
reported at that time that the web of
agents included: politicians, "reporters
for a local newspaper and for a national
TV news channel, students, hotel staff,
a court employee, a senior civil servant
who works on art and culture, a 14 year
old child…farmer[s]… worker[s] … a
motorcycle taxi driver, [and] a
cellphone kiosk clerk who watches people
who buy SIM card numbers, and a driver
for a car rental company…"
With networks such as this, Kopassus is
in good position to watch -- and act
against -- people of interest to them in
this upcoming election and its