Detachment 88

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Detasemen Khusus 88
Detachment 88 Anti Terror Police
Detachment 88 logo.jpg
The crest of the Detachment 88
AbbreviationDelta 88
Densus 88[1][2]
Agency overview
Formed2003; 16 years ago (2003)
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agencyIndonesia
Operations jurisdictionIndonesia
Primary governing bodyGovernment of Indonesia
Secondary governing bodyIndonesian National Police
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by PoliceMinistry of Home Affairs
HeadquartersIndonesian National Police Headquarters, Jakarta

Minister of Home Affair responsible
  • Thahjo Kumolo
  • Brig. Gen. Pranowo, first commander
Significant operation(s)

Special Detachment 88 (Detasemen Khusus 88), or Densus 88, is an Indonesian National Police counter-terrorism squad formed on 30 June 2003, after the 2002 Bali bombings. It is funded, equipped, and trained by the United States[3] and Australia.[4]

The unit has worked with considerable success against the jihadi terrorist cells linked to Central Java–based Islamist movement Jemaah Islamiyah.[5]


Detachment 88 was formed after the 2002 Bali bombings[5] and became operational in 2003.[6] The name of the organization is a result of a senior Indonesian police official mishearing "ATA" in a briefing on the US Department of State's Anti-Terrorist Assistance program as "88". He thought it would be a good name as the number 8 is a lucky number in Asia and other officials lacked the courage to correct him.[7] However, according to Brig. Gen. Pranowo, the Indonesian Police Headquarter Anti-Terror Director, the number "88" is taken from the number of Australian fatalities in the 2002 Bali bombing, the largest number from a single country.[8][9]

Detachment 88 has disrupted the activities of Central Java–based Islamist movement Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and many of its top operatives have been arrested or killed.[5] Abu Dujana, suspected leader of JI's military wing and its possible emir, was apprehended on June 9, 2007.[10] Azahari Husin was shot and killed in 2005. The Indonesian terrorist organization suffered a further blow when arguably its last surviving and at-large prominent figure, Noordin Mohammad Top was killed in a shootout with Detachment 88 on September 17, 2009 at Solo, Central Java.

Detachment 88 is assisted by foreign agencies, including the Australian Federal Police, in forensic sciences including DNA analysis, and communications monitoring. In pre-emptive strikes in Java, the unit thwarted attack plans to material assembly.[5]

Detachment 88 operators were involved in an operation in Poso, where 10 people, including a policeman, were killed in a gunfight during a high-risk arrest operation on January 22, 2007.[11]

In 2007, Detachment 88 arrested and interrogated West Papuan human rights lawyer, Iwangin Sabar Olif, and charged him with incitement and insulting the head of state, because he sent an SMS text message critical of the Indonesian military and president.[3]

Six members of a little-known terror cell called Katibah GR, or Cell GR, were arrested by counter- terrorism unit Densus 88 after carrying out a raid in Batam in August 2016. Police said their leader had been planning a rocket attack on Marina Bay, Singapore together with a Syrian-based Indonesian ISIS militant.[12]


This special unit is being funded by the US government through its State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The unit is currently being trained in Megamendung, 50 km south of Jakarta, by the CIA, FBI, US Secret Service, and Australian Federal Police.

Most of these instructors were ex-US special forces personnel.[8] Training is also carried out with the aid of Australian Special Forces and various intelligence agencies.

Detachment 88 is designed to become an anti-terrorist unit that is capable of countering various terrorist threats, from bomb threats to hostage situations. This 400-personnel strong special force went fully operational in 2005. It consists of investigators, explosive experts, and an attack unit that includes snipers.


Detachment 88 officers are frequently seen armed with a M4A1 carbine when an operation or a raid is conducted while the Glock 17 pistol is used as the standard sidearm.

They also use a varied arsenal of weapons such as the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun, Heckler & Koch MP7 Submachine gun, Steyr AUG assault rifles, Heckler & Koch G36C assault rifles, Remington 700 and Armalite AR-10 sniper rifles, Knight's Armament Company SR-25 Marksman Rifles, M14 Battle Rifles, Ithaca 37 and Remington 870 shotguns, and Heckler & Koch HK416 rifles.

Allegations of torture and deaths in custody[edit]

The unit has been accused of involvement of torture. In August 2010, Amnesty International said in an urgent appeal that Indonesia had arrested Moluccan activists, and they had anxiety that the activists would be tortured by Detachment 88.[13] In September 2010, Malukan political prisoner Yusuf Sipakoly alleged gross human rights abuses by Detachment 88.[14] In March 2016, the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights stated that at least 121 terror suspects had died in custody since 2007[15] While acknowledging that Australia did train Detachment 88, Foreign affairs minister in 2012, Bob Carr, said he wasn't sure if the allegations were true, but would follow up.[16]


  1. ^ "Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research's Indonesia Page. Retrieved on January 29, 2007". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Densus 88". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b Detachment 88, Kopassus Get Covert US Aid: US Intelligence Personnel Tap Indonesian Phones. Retrieved on July 16, 2008.
  4. ^ "The eastern fringe of the Muslim world worries about Islamic State's influence". The Economist. 23 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d McDonald, Hamish (31 May 2008). "Fighting terror with smart weaponry". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 17.
  6. ^ Guerin, Bill (Jun 16, 2007). "Another success for Detachment 88". Asia Times. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
  7. ^ Conboy, Ken. (2006) The Second Front: Inside Asia's Most dangerous Terrorist Network, Equinox Publishing, ISBN 979-3780-09-6 p. 23
  8. ^ a b Pasukan Khusus Polri Dilatih CIA Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on January 29, 2007.
  9. ^ Indonesia opens anti-terror school. Retrieved on January 29, 2007
  10. ^ Southeast Asian Terrorist Leader Is Under Arrest. The New York Times, June 14, 2007. Retrieved on June 14, 2007.
  11. ^ Gunbattle with suspected militants in central Indonesia kills 10[permanent dead link]. Boston Herald. Retrieved on January 29, 2007.
  12. ^ hermes (6 August 2016). "Plot to attack Marina Bay with rocket from Batam foiled". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Turkmenistan". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  14. ^ Political prisoner dies as 'truth walks slowly' Tom Allard, Jakarta September 15, 2010 "World -". The Age. Melbourne.
  15. ^ Eko Prasetyo (22 April 2016), Police Negligence Admission only Tip of the Iceberg: Amnesty International, The Jakarta Globe, retrieved 22 April 2016
  16. ^ Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main "Papuans Claim Australian Link to Death Squad" Updated 29 Aug 2012, 10:40am

External links[edit]