Kopassus, abbreviation for Komando Pasukan Khusus (Army Special Force Command) is an Indonesian Army Special Forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering. Kopassus was founded on April 16, 1952. The Special Forces quickly made their mark by spearheading some of the government’s military campaigns: putting down regional rebellions in the late 1950s, the Western New Guinea campaign in 1960, the confrontation against Malaysia from 1962-1966, the military acts against of alleged Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965, the East Timor military campaign in 1975, and the subsequent campaigns against separatism and terrorism.
Although most political and military analyst considering Kopassus was linked to numerous severe violations of human rights (especially in East Timor, Aceh and Papua, as well as on some occasions in the capital Jakarta itself), for most people of Indonesia, their last involvement of disgraced kidnaping activities of democratic activists in 1998 riots won’t erase their great and unpaidable services to the country from their very beginning formation until now.
Indonesia is the country that formed and declared the independence proclamation from former colonialists in 1945 after long struggle against of colonialism by several European countries like Portuguese, Spanish, Britain, Dutch and Japanese. Indonesia is a state that encompasses the Indonesia archipelago with some area were infamous for their spicy/clove product, the important commodity for European countries due to its rare and purpose for seasoning the food and medicine at that time.
Even the Indonesia had declared the independence, Dutch still did not accept that fact and came back to re-conquer Indonesia and named their military acts as police acts. Due to intensive diplomatic works and military fights from young Indonesian army, Dutch finally accepted Indonesia as independent state in 1949, with West Papua still occupied by the Dutch until 1963. Connecting to 1949 recognition by Dutch, the reactions in the field was not always easy for the new Republic of Indonesia. One of them was insurgency from some ex-Dutch formed army, KNIL (Koninklijk Nederland-Indisch Leger, The Dutch East Indies Army). Many KNIL members were from Eastern people from Sulawesi and Moluccas that generally had closer relationships with Dutch because their more privileges in economy, politics and education during the Dutch colonialism due to their faith, mixed blood and became closely similar habits. Knowing that the new formed Republic of Indonesia would reduce their status than they had before, the insurgency begun by some ex-KNIL members and eastern politician leaders. That ex-KNIL and eastern politician leaders rebel became serious threat to central government in Jakarta with the movement called RMS (Republik Maluku Selatan; Republic of the South Moluccas).
During the eradicating of the RMS immunity, Lieu. Col. Slamet Riyadi and Colonel Alexander Evert Kawilarang who in the front line commanding the troops were inspired and amazed by effectiveness and combat ability (especially in men’s sniping) of ex-KNIL members that also helped by KST (Korps Speciale Troepen) during insurgency. They then inspired to build a similar force for Indonesia. However, at that time, neither of the Indonesian commandants had any experience or skill in special operations. (However, Lieutenant Colonel Slamet Riyadi would not see his dream realized due to his death in a battle against the troops of the RMS).
Not long after, with the use of military intelligence, Colonel Kawilarang located and met with Captain Major Rokus Bernardus Visser – a former member of the Dutch Special Forces who had remained in independent Indonesia, settled in West Java, married an Indonesian woman, and was known locally as Mohamad Idjon Djanbi. He was the first recruit for the Indonesian special forces, as well as its first commandant. He later re-positioned to become Major after his request to be at least one rank higher than any his trainee. Due to him, the unit adopted a Red Beret similar to that of the Dutch Special Forces, which is still in use by the present Kopassus.
Col. A. E. Kawilarang, Lieu. Col. Slamet Riyadi and staffs arrived in Ambon, 1950
Brig. Gen. Slamet Riyadi & Col. Kawilarang & Maj. M. Idjon Djanbi
1. DI/TII (Darul Islam/Tentara Islam Indonesia)
2. The Talang Betutu Operation against the rebellion in Tentara Teritorium (Territorial Troops) IV
3. Destroying operation PRRI/Permesta
4. Kahar Muzakkar Rebellion
5. The Trikora Operation (to invade Netherland New Guinea in 1962)
6. The Dwikora Operation/Konfrontasi (to oppose the formation of the Federation of Malaysia from Britain)
7. The Naga Operation (to guarantee a 100% yes vote for integration with Indonesia by the Papuans in the so-called Act of Free Choice or Pepera in 1969)
8. The Seroja Operation in East Timor since in 1975
9. The Aceh Operation against of GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or Aceh Liberation Movement)
10. Woyla Operation, Bangkok 1981
Indonesia Flight 206 was a domestic Garuda Indonesia Airways flight that was hijacked on Saturday, March 28, 1981.
This was the first serious Indonesian airline hijacking, since an earlier case in 1972 which was a desperate amateur hijacker (his name was Hermawan, who was failed entered the marine corps) and was then hijacked Vickers Viscount 613 flight number MZ-171 of Merpati Nusantara Airlines headed to Jakarta from Surabaya and killed at that episode by the pilot himself (Captain Hindiarto). Note: that pilot graduated from TALOA (Trans Ocean Airlines Oakland Airport Academy of Aeronautic, Bakersfield, California, USA) and believed he was familiar how to use the gun. Finally, captain Hindiarto could finish the hijacking incident after he waved his arm out of cockpit window and gave a code to one police officer whom surrounded the airplane that understood the given code to give his revolver Colt .38 from underneath the cockpit.
In 1981, some group of people hijacked the DC-9 “Woyla” Garuda Airways with 48 passengers, en routed from Palembang (South Sumatera Province Capital) to Medan (North Sumatera Capital), and ordered the pilot to fly the plane to Colombo, Sri lanka. The plane started to be hijacked at 10.10 a.m. after the pilot Captain Herman Rante threatened with gun.
But since the plane did not have enough fuel, it refueled in Penang, Malaysia. After Malaysian authority provided food and maps and hijackers released one passenger at 16.05 local time, the plane took off from Bayan Lepas Airport, Penang, Malaysia. In fact, Malaysian government initiative to easily let the DC-9 plane flew from Penang to Thailand was deplorably for Indonesian government. If hijackers insisted to fly farther, it would be more very-very difficult to do military option. Even more, if that plan could reach the Arabian countries,the situation would be the worst situation (there was a speculation that the plane would fly to Libya). Fortunately, they then flew to Don Muang International Port, Thailand and landed at 17.05 local time. The plane then parked at spot A terminal, Royal Thai Air Force base.
While that problem sounded to Jakarta, most senior officers of Indonesian Armed Forces (at that time still named ABRI, Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia) was gathering a senior officer meeting in Ambon, Moluccas. There was only Admiral TNI Sudomo, deputy commandant of the armed forces (ABRI), who still stayed in Jakarta. The news regarding that situation was received by Sudomo and then passed to Lieu. Gen. TNI Moerdani (assistant of defense and security and chief of strategic intelligence center) in Ambon. Then Gen. TNI M. Yusuf, the ABRI commandant, ordered Admiral Sudomo to coordinate eradicating of the hijacking. Immediately, From Ambon, Moerdani went back to Jakarta to prepare the work.
After considering the potential available officers, ABRI then ordered Lieu. Col. Sintong Pandjaitan, a Kopassandha (a former name of Kopassus) officer from Bataknese ethnic group from Northern Sumatera province, who recently injured his legs from advanced freefall training with MTT (Mobile Training Team) from US Army’s Special Forces. While Sintong received the order, he was using crutch to support his legs after two weeks bed rest in army hospital. He was assistant 2 or Operation in group 2 of Kopassandha. Shortly, he prepared anti terror squad. (The order given to Sintong was reasonable because he had enough long study on an anti terror course for 20 years after he attended some anti terror trainings such as in Hereford with SAS,visited anti terror training in KCT, Roosendal- Dutch, then France, Germany and Korea). At the beginning, he made team from 72 soldiers from Group 4/Sandiyudha, however after they knew the hijacker consisted of only 5 persons, finally Sintong shrunk the team to be only 30 commandos. They consisted of 24 from group 4, three officers from Kopassandha headquarter office and three from Group 1/Para commando. A strong policy from government was very clear, Republic of Indonesia insisted to rescue the hostages at any cost.
Lieu. Gen. Yoga Sugomo, flew to Bangkok from Jakarta with five crews (pilots and technicians) as reversed crew, acted as RI’s special envoys to meet with Thailand government regarding this situation. Meanwhile, after Moerdani arrived in Jakarta, he with Sudomo met President Suharto at 22.00. When Suharto asked Let. Gen. Moerdani about the probability of success, Moerdany vastly responded, ” fifty-fifty, Sir”. However, Suharto still insisted to order the operation had to go on. In contrast, in Bangkok, Thai’s Prime Minister Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda would not let go any forces against the hijacking. This potentially came from his impression of the successful handling by Israeli Embassy in 1972 against of Israeli Embassy hostage without such force.
As time went by, information from the field becoming clearer, hijacking action conducted by some people who named themself as Komando Jihad (Islam Fundamentalist). Hijackers demanded the release of 80 Komando Jihad members imprisoned in Indonesia, and US$1.5 million, as well as a plan to take those prisoners to an unspecified destination. The hijackers threatened to blow up the plane if their demands were not met by 01.00 pm on March 30, 1981.
To react to this situation promptly, Sintaong and team trained on a spare DC-9 provided by state airline Garuda Indonesia Airways. The team made a tactic with started doing an identification of plane design. It was very important part of the rescuing tactic.The second step is how to approach the plane. They defined approaching the plane from dead sight angle of view that benefited commandos. The third was synchronization plan. During this exercise, Sintong evaluated application of assault plan, either individual performance or coordination among the team members. Unpredictedly, Lieu. Gen. Moerdani visited the exercise.
On Sunday, March 30, 1981, anti terror commando team gathered in General Moerdani’s office to get briefing. There were some body armors on the sofa that would be worn by team member, then he took the pistol and shot the armor to show the effectiveness of those body armors.
There was a remarkable happening prior to the departure of the team in Jakarta while the team met again with Lieu. Gen Moerdani in Halim Perdanakusuma Air force base, Jakarta. After the general saw the team used assault riffle M16A1, Moerdani said to Sintong, “Tong, you must not use that riffle! If you shoot using M16, you gonna blow the plane later on”. The Moerdani gave assault riffle H&K MP5 SD-2, caliber 9mm, made by Heckler & Koch, West Germany. Sintong had shot already MP5 while he was visiting GSG-9 training center, but he realized that no one of his team member had never used it. Moreover as per procedure, every a new weapon must be tested and evaluated prior to its service. Therefore after receiving that weapon, he spontaneously reacted, ” Ouw Sir, this weapon can not be used by team member”. Moerdany replied,” If you get used to hold a weapon, any weapon wanna be the same, right? Open the safety lock, position the gun to the object and fire it, what else?” Sintong still reluctantly accepted that order, although he had to do it as his subordinate. Then he spared the weapon with 9 mm low velocity bullets to his team member. Property of that bullet is deathfull for human yet only create small damaged to airplane wall.
Time has shown 20.00 in the night when McDonnel Douglass DC-10-30 of Garuda preparing the departure to Bangkok. Prior to entering the plane, Sintong plead to Moerdani once again,” Sir, I request you to do shooting practice just a moment to know the riffle characteristic”. (This request was based on his experience when he used new assault riffle AR-15 caliber 5.56 mm that fail to fire just received the weapon, during communist eradicating action in Central Jawa, Indonesia). Because the departure had to race with time, Moerdani commented,” Are you afraid?” Followed with anger voice, he then ordered,” Enter the plane!” The plane was then ready for take off and warmed the engines. In the airplane Sintong walked to Moerdani’s seat to meet his general, however, Lieu. Gen. Moerdani then asked him first,” How?” Sintong replied,” I wanna succeed this operation successfully, Sir. If you wanna me to depart, for sure I will”. Lieu. Gen. Leonardus Benny Moerdani didn’t comment on Sintong’s request. But not long after that, the general woke up from his seat and then went to cockpit and suddenly the engines were faded away. Lieu. Gen. Leonardus Benny Moerdani, a Christian Javanese soldier; a die hard and well known as fearless soldier (also commando veteran), yelled to Sintong,” Hi Batak (yelled to Sintong’s ethnic as illustration their intimate relationship; can not be done if there is no good relationship cause will result in blasphemy)! Quickly go out of this plane, bring along your soldiers!”. Then Sintong and his commandos quickly did shooting practice with their new weapon and the result was all the firings were jammed! Knowing that happening, Moerdany was very surprise, because those weapons were new and becoming standard assault riffle of Germany GSG-9 anti terror team while rescuing Lufthansa Airline in Mogadishu, Somalia. It then believed that potentially the problem came due to inappropriate storage in high humidity of tropical region like Indonesia or the bullets given to the team had been expired. Then Moerdani ordered Lieu. Col. Kuntara to take other bullets from his office that newly sent from Germany. After they used the new bullets, the results were very good. From this experience, Sintong proved himself that he must take a risk to ask for request that sometimes would be difficult, moreover dealing with fearless and famous General Moerdani.
… at 21.50 Jakarta Time, 30 commandos by DC-10 airplane without wearing their uniform departed to Bangkok after 2 days intensive training in Garuda’s hangar. They arrived in Dong Muang Airport at 02.25 local time, March 30, 1981. All commandos still seated in airplane, meanwhile Lieu. Gen. Moerdani left the plane immediately. In Don Muang, that DC-10 was assigned as tactical commando center of Kopassanda team.
Initially, Thai’s official proposed to do joint operation between Indonesian commando and Thai commando. That proposal was refused by Indonesian officials because the hijacked plane was Indonesian plane, most passengers were Indonesian citizens and the hijackers were also Indonesian. Analyzing from military perspective, if joint military operation without joint training is performed, it will very likely be dangerous for all team members. (For example, rescuing operation of 50 hostages inside DC-8 Egyptair in Larnaca International Airport, Cyprus, in February 1978 had resulted in 15 Egyptian commandos were death after they exchanged fires with Cyprus officers. That accident happened due to no coordination, yet no joint training previously). The coordination with Thai Armed Forces was managed by high level officers, such as some body armors lent by them and ladder for approaching the aircraft body. Knowing the body armors already sufficient in number, the only one body armor from CIA office in Bangkok immediately was sent back by Moerdani to them to purge the assumption that Indonesia got help from USA.
(Note: to save the Thai Armed Forces’s honor, they also let to be participated in indirect operation as a protection force in hijacked plane’s perimeter).
On March 30, 1981, again the team practiced using DC-9 “Digul” of Garuda Indonesia Airways in Royal Thai Air Force hangar. That practice by simulating night assault was a repetitive drill about the technical job, especially about how to open the door and attack faster and effective. While negotiating and preparing the assault, there was a new occurrence that one hostage, an English passenger namely Robert Wainwright, had successfully escaped from the emergency exit door. It case changed slightly the assault scenario. In the attack plan, sub team recon 2 had a task to enter the plan thru emergency exit above left wing. Sintong ordered,” Once the door opened, anyone there must be shot quickly”. One of the team member asked,” What about if that person is a passenger, Sir?” Sintong answered firmly,” I don’t care. If that person is passenger, you have no choice instead of shooting him. It’s his fate already. I take the responsibility”. In Sintong’s logic, after one hostage escaped from airplane wing, it very likely in surrounding the emergency seat row was emptied by hijackers.
In shooting skill, definitely anti terror team member had much better skill than any hijackers, they were skillful commandos. In contrast, hijackers were fearless and drastic people, cause they were ready to die for their action. In Sintong calculation, their fearless attribute had also a weakness. If there is something noisy sound, any hijacker member must likely raise his head higher than any passenger as any normal people will duck into inside the seat row when shooting action happened. So, Sintong ordered his team member to fire their weapon level to the passenger seat height. “If seen people raise their head from the head rest, you must shoot him!”, ordered by Sintong with also instructed to give order to any passenger to crouch once commando enter the plane.
Finally, after negotiation with Thai’s government, Thai’s PM Prem Tinsulanonda gave green light to let the military option that will be performed by Indonesian. Because this operation was considered as open operation type, so all commandos changed their suit to their pride BDU and their red beret. Some experienced team member said,” If I must die, I choose to die by wearing this commando BDU”. Moreover, that uniform will be easily distinguished with any other people inside the hijacked plane.
In the last briefing before assault on March 30, 1981, at 22.00 (night), Moerdany reminded the team not to take risk too heavily and prioritized their safety first. But soon after that three-star general left the room, Sintong gave different order than Moerdani did before. Sintong affirmed,” If this mission is merely to kill the hijackers, we can bom this plane!. Finish. However, our mission here is to save the hostages, air crew and the airplane. Sintong accentuated, all team member’s safety must not be counted. We come here to save hostages. Hostages’s life are much valuable than your life, than my life, because this has been our fate as soldier!” All words by Sintong in fact had heard directly by Moerdani as he still there outside, not far from the briefing room.
Meanwhile the hijackers becoming impatient, another Indonesian general, Lieu. Gen Yoga Sugomo was still trying to pay out the time by pretending their pressures were being processed. The last decision was taken that assault would be conducted at 03.00 (morning), March 31, 1981. Sintong knew that all team members were exhausted. To help little within the constraint time, he told his team that the mission was canceled and he let them to take a rest and switched off the room lamp. No long after that, all member had slept, even some of them snored heavily. After around one hour, Sintong woke them up in fresher condition and ordered to prepare for the operation.
Information from a CIA-provided listening device prompted Lieu Gen. Moerdani to order the assault at 03.00 in the morning when the hijackers were tired and had eaten. At 02.00, all lights around the hijacked plane were shutdown, and assault time was decided by Moerdani. In 500 meters distance, the commandos approached using VW combi. Knowing there were so many journalists, most team members instructed to lie down inside the car and Moerdani sat on their soldier’s body. However, Sintong was very surprise when the commandos left the car, Moerdany moved and followed into the soldier’s march. It was not including in the scenario. Moerdany’s body was very clear in the middle of the uniformed commandos. He wore a black jacket and his hand held his pistol. That general looked very different because he was the only one not used the BDU and the red beret. Sintong whispered to his next commando,” So, Roso (it was commando’s name), get him out. Don’t let Mr. Moerdany go with us!” Capt. Roso replied by whispering also to Sintong,” I don’t dare, Sir”. In Benny Moerdany’s interview, he told that he just thought that his best place was with his soldiers. Off course neglected the reality, that he was three-star general. He did not care of the risk of getting the hot fatal bullet. But Moerdany insisted in his private doctrine, a leader must together with his soldiers. A something that he had proved so far along his services in any battle fields. He thought at that time, psychological value was very great, “If I were shot and die, it would prove that Indonesian government never surrendered from any hijacker pressures”, told Benny Moerdani.The, Sintong told that they then walked to airplane calmly without pointed the gun and unlike the commandos who would rescue the hostages. One reporter from Bangkok Post described the march of Indonesian commando like Sunday picnic walk (and it was agreed by Sintong after all).
Assault sub team was assigned to enter the plane, support and sniper sub team were assigned to surround the plane in 30 meters radius and prepared to support the main sub team. In the same time, Royal Thai Air Force armies stood by in 200 meters radius to be ready for any possible situation.
Even though the action was planned to be at 03.00, but at 02.40 Sintong whispered his sub team commandants to begin the assault via handy talkie,” enter … enter!” Six soldiers by holding assault riffle H&K MP5 and Beretta M951 caliber 9 mm entered the plane as per their scenario.
At 02.45, two soldiers from support sub team stepped the ladder and opened the front left door. He kept the emergency sliding rubber that slowly emerged from its storage space. Before the front door fully opened, two commandos entered the plane swiftly by taking advantage of the raid and yelled,” Commando!!”. That had a purpose to send shock therapy to hijackers. For trained people, the raid like that will create astonishment about 2 or 3 seconds before reacting, but for the normal people they normally will react more than 10 seconds. The first commando then ambushed into cockpit followed by the second commando to protect his fellow by yelling to the hostages to seek protection from their last position. Several seconds later, one fire was heard and apparently a hijacker namely Abu Sofyan had shot the captain pilot Herman Rante that seating in the left seat. Abu Sofyan shot him using Colt .38 at his head, whereas the co-pilot Handy Juwantoro could jump thru his right emergency door and quickly protected by Capt. Untung Suroso whom stood by underneath the cockpit. Another hijacker who ran from cockpit to passenger cabin collided with the commando no. 1 (the first commando) then wrestling resulted in. The hijacker attempted to seize the gun from the soldier, but before the commando no. 2 started firing, the hijacker had expelled to outside the plane. He slipped on the sliding rubber and felt on the apron. He then shot by the commando that had been ready besides the plane. Then he was death and soon later his name was known as Abdullah Mulyono.
Heindrik Seisen, a Dutch passenger who also one of the hostages, described,” I woke up when I heard a lot of noise and what certainly looked like shooting (sic!). It seemed like in the time of two seconds the whole plane filled up with commandos. He added,” When the shooting started we ducked below the seats. I didn’t want to look. I was terrified”.
In seconds count later after commando no. 1 and 2 entered the plane, the second ambush was performed by two commandos through left emergency exit door. The first group still stood by and acted firmly in their order to shoot anybody whom positioned in emergency exit door. And it was happened, when one commando shot the somebody closed to that door. Sintong’s analysis was correct, that fallen person was hijacker, namely Wendy Mohammad Zein, the youngest hijacker.
There was also grenade throwing by hijacker, fortunately he did not do well because the pin was not correctly pulled out. One hostage namely Wawan Irawan told that hijacker whom threw the grenade was Zulfikar. Wawan added,” If that grenade successfully exploded, I have already been like chopped meat”. Zulfikar escaped through left emergency exit door that already opened by the second group. Escaping from that door, Zulfikar jumped from leading edge to apron without invitation and then got shot from assault riffle M16A1 from the support sub team underneath the plane.
A few seconds later, the third group entered the plane through hydraulics back door. Due to slow movement of that opening, one hijacker had been prepared for ambush. It resulted in the first commando who entered from the back door, namely Achmad Kirang, was then shot at his stomach just above his male vital organ that not covered by body armored. The second soldier followed the fallen commando also been shot at his chest/body armor and only created bruise damage. He then swiftly opened fire using H&K MP5 to hijacker and resulted in his falling nearby the stewardess whom besides him. The hijacker name was Mahrizal. After the six commandos entered the plane, a support sub team then approached the plane to help the recon sub team. In short time, a rescue team performed the medical evacuation for Achmad Kirang whom shot by hijacker and rescued him to preparation site. Sintong evaluated, Achmad Kirang got shot due to his movement was too fast and it was suspected due to Achmad Kirang movement, a very experienced commando, was very aggressive.
After all hijackers were demolished, all hostages then been ordered to line up and go out from the plane by raising their hand. Abu Sofyan, one of hijackers, attempted to diffuse in the line up. But unlucky for him, three rescued hostages told the commandos that he was one of the hijackers. Abu Sofyan then shot after he attempted to runaway and then he died on the apron.
In that operation, three hijackers were death outside the airplane and other two hijackers were heavily wounded inside the airplane cabin. First lieutenant dr. PL Tobing and his medical team could not save their life. Therefore, all five hijackers were death at that operation. In cleansing period inside the airplane, Lieu. Gen Moerdany quickly entered the airplane by holding his pistol although that action had not been finished. From inside the cockpit, Moerdani then pointed upward his thumb as the victory sign.
He then made a call to his comrade Lieu. Gen. Yoga Sugomo,” This is two zero six, could I speak to Yoga please?”
“Yes, Yoga here”.
“Mr. Yoga, this is Benny!”, yelled Benny Moerdani.
“Damned! Where you have been?”, Yoga Sugomo asked.
“Inside the plane”, Moerdani replied.
“Pls, don’t be kidding in this situation”, Sugomo said.
“Yes, I am inside the airplane, the mission is succeeded well”, informed by Moerdani.
After the raid was finished, Sintong ordered his commandos to do consolidation in front of Royal Thai Post Command, then they entered another parked DC-10 airplane of Garuda Airways. (Previously, Lieu. Gen Leonardus Benny Moerdani had ordered 17 coffins as predicted from that operation. Fortunately that prediction was missed because from the result, there were only five casualties onsite). At 05.00, all commandos team had been withdrawn from Bangkok to Jakarta in the same day. The only victims in that operation from the commandos and hostages were Achmad Kirang in King Bhumiphol Air Force Hospital, Bangkok, two days after the operation and captain pilot Herman Rante who died six days later.
After that successful operation, there were some coverages from several newspaper, mostly from ASEAN countries, about the mission. The Asian Wall Street Journal published in their headline,” It isn’t that Indonesians don’t deserve the same credit and honor that Israel and the West German commandos earned for similar gallantry at Entebbe and Mogadishu. It is a pity because there is a broader point to be made”. They also added that the third world countries always been underestimated, not having such discipline and can not work efficiently. The also commented on the Indonesian soldiers performance,” Well, it took a high order of soldiering to rescue a planeload of hostages without taking one innocent life. From hijack to the last gun shot, the entire operation lasted about 60 hours. It required a high degree of organization and planning. It also required courage, efficiency and discipline”.
One of anti terror team, TJP Purba, had been interviewed by The Bangkok Post and said,” Our principle is simple: silent, decisive and aggressive”.
After all, from the evaluation, the team concluded that all victims were caused by hijackers, like Achmad Kirang that was shot by .38 inch bullet, not from the weapon that held by any team member, neither from H&K MP5 nor 9 mm bullet from berreta pistol during the raid. Another evaluation of successful operation was the commandos did execution with very effective and fast action and it also had very high surprise attack value. It resulted in no chance of any hijackers member to explode their dynamites that might create total loss; people and airplane.
Profitable from the intensive training by exploiting the logic and persistence, the raid by Indonesian commando only took three minutes, less than 3-1/2 minutes plan!
Finally, all remaining team members got promotion one rank higher after the mission, while Achmad Kirang got two ranks higher promotion posthumously. Besides that, all team members got star medal from the Indonesian government.
Since that operation, Sat 81 Gultor (counter-terrorist group within Kopassus; an elite within an elite group) was formed by the TNI-AD. Code 81 of that group name was inspired from the year of the Woyla mission was undertaken.
11. Mapnduman, West Papua
Mapnduma Hostage Rescue 8 January 1996. The mastermind for this case was the OPM (Papua Liberation Organization or Organisasi Papua Merdeka), led by Kelly Kwalik. He took a number of Western and Indonesian researchers in the Lorentz National Parc hostage. The OPM demanded that the Indonesian government would give independence to West Papua. At that time the Kopassus commander was Brigadier General Prabowo Subianto, an ex GSG 9 student, and son-in-law of President Suharto. For the safety of the hostages, Prabowo preferred a negotiation process rather than a military operation. Negotiations were first conducted by an American missionary and the bishop of Jayapura and then by the ICRC led by Henry Fournier, the ICRC head of mission for Indonesia. The negotiations broke down, and Prabowo had to resort to force. The mission involved 100 soldiers from Kopassus and 400 soldiers from the Navy, Kostrad, Kodam VIII Trikora, and Penerbad. The mission was a success. Two hostages, were killed by OPM guerillas. There were no casualties among other hostages and Kopassus and others army members. During this mission Prabowo also retrieved help from other countries, who sympathised with Indonesia, among other Singapore, which lent its UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Mazlat Scout and Night Vision Goggles, and, possibly, Western mercenaries.
Credit to wikipedia, Ken Conboy’s book about Kopassus, Hendro Subroto for his book about Sintong Pandjaitan (a former Kopassus commandant), militarypohotos.net.
To be continued …