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Kopassus , Kostrad

LtGen (ret) Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo

Former commander, Kopassus and Kostrad

Retired LtGen Prabowo is not a suspect in the 1999 violence in East Timor. He is mentioned here only as background, because so many of the suspects were connected with him earlier in their careers.

Although a major influence on Indonesian counter-insurgency tactics in East Timor beginning in 1989/90, he was out of the country throughout 1999. Having been dismissed from his Kostrad command in May 1998, and from the military entirely in August 1998, Prabowo had no TNI position in 1999. Instead he was in self-imposed exile in Jordan, doing business with his wealthy brother. The many rumours, all of them unproven, that he was still in Indonesia anyway, and directing clandestine operations in East Timor, indicate the power he once held.

Among the many 1999 militia leaders who were Prabowo's proteges were Eurico Guterres, Lafaek Saburai, Martinho Fernandes, and Joni Marquez. Governor Abilio Soares owed his career largely to Prabowo's support. Many of the soldiers (especially in Kopassus) who directed the militias in 1999 had been Prabowo's subordinates at some stage. Among them were: MajGen Adam Damiri, MajGen Mahidin Simbolon, BrigGen Amirul Isnaeni, Col Gerhan Lentara, and LtCol Wioyotomo Nugroho. Others had been his colleagues: Gen Subagyo H S, MajGen Zacky Anwar Makarim, MajGen Sjafrie Syamsuddin, MajGen Kiki Syahnakri, LtGen Johny Lumintang, and Col Pramono Edhie Wibowo.


Prabowo was born on 17 October 1951 in Jakarta, the son of noted economist (and dissident politician) Professor Sumitro Djojohadikusumo. While his father was on the run for supporting a failed regional revolt in 1957, Prabowo grew up in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Britain. He graduated from the military academy in 1974.

In 1976 he went to East Timor as part of Tim Nanggala X, a special forces unit that belonged to Kopassandha, later called Kopassus. He undertook anti-terrorist training in the US (Fort Bragg, 1980; Fort Benning, 1985), and in West Germany (GSG-9, about 1981), scoring 'top graduate' each time. In 1983 he married the daughter of President Suharto, Siti Hediati Harijadi (Titiek). In 1983, sent to East Timor as a major in charge of Kopassus Detachment 81 (D81), he established the Tim Alfa militia in Lospalos. He was involved in the Kraras massacre of September 1983.[1] In 1988-89 he was in East Timor again, in command of the Kostrad combat Battalion 328. He turned it into such a highly trained unit that it was chosen as the best battalion in East Timor.[2]

After eight years in Kostrad he returned to Kopassus in 1993 as commander of its Group 3, a special forces training unit in Batujajar, West Java, that also played a role training militia leaders. He rose to Deputy Commander of Kopassus in 1994-95, and to Kopassus Commander in 1995-98. In March 1998 he was moved back to Kostrad, becoming Kostrad Commander.

However, with Suharto gone his fortunes quickly declined. He was exposed as having organised the kidnapping of anti-Suharto activists early in 1998, and was finally dismissed from the armed forces in August 1998 after an internal inquiry (DKP).

Extra Information

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Sgt Joanico Belo
LtGen Djamari Chaniago
Manuel de Sousa
District head Martinho Fernandes
Eurico Guterres
Col Gerhan Lentara
MajGen Zacky Anwar Makarim
Joni Marquez
Leonito Martins
MajGen Muchdi Purwopranjono (PR)
LtCol Nus RN Rahasia
Abilio Soares
Col Tono Suratman
Col Pramono Edhie Wibowo
MajGen (ret) Yunus Yosfiah
Lt Rahman Zulkarnaen

[1] Jill Jolliffe, 'Torture evidence mounts against Indonesian general', The Age, 26 April 2001.

[2] Gatra, 28 March 1998.


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