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Lt Rahman Zulkarnaen

Tribuana Task Force (Kopassus) base commander, Laruara, Lospalos

The Tribuana Task Force of the Kopassus special forces had bases in Lautem district at Laruara and at Mes Gula, both in Lospalos town. Both were used as detention and torture centres.[1] Little is known about how these troops were integrated into the military command structure. Since Lospalos fell within Combat Sector A, it seems likely they answered primarily to the sectoral commander, in 1999 first Col Sunarko then Col Irwan Kusnadi, rather than to the territorial district commander in Lautem (LtCol Sudrajat A S). It is also possible that they answered to SGI commander in Dili, LtCol Yayat Sudrajat.

Lt Rahman Zulkarnaen was in charge at the Laruara Kopassus base. That this was also the Alfa Team base indicates how closely Kopassus controlled this militia. In 1999 Alfa Team had 300 members with 300 arms - an exceptionally complete arming level. Kopassus gave new militia members a bank account with Rp 500,000 (US$60) and a monthly wage. Besides rice and cash salaries from Kopassus, members received supplements from the provincial budget via the district head Edmundo Conceicao Silva. Its healthy bank balance was managed by the head of Lautem's District Investment Coordinating Board.[2]

Tim Alfa was established in 1986 by Captain Luhut Panjaitan, a Kopassus officer acting under the instructions of Prabowo Subianto. Indonesian army documents leaked in October 1998 list Tim Alfa together with other militias as regular armed forces personnel.[3] The Jati Merah Putih militia, sometimes mentioned as a separate unit, seems to be an alternative designation for the same Alfa Team.

Appendix 5 of the KPP HAM briefly mentions six events in which Alfa Team was implicated. They included the murder of four independence activists in different incidents beginning in April 1999, and the burning of more than a hundred homes and the expulsion of residents in Leuro village, west of Lospalos, 8-12 September 1999.

On 15 November 2002, Rahman Zulkarnaen was indicted in absentia before the Dili Special Panel for crimes against humanity for the murder of CNRT leader Verissimo Dias Quintao on 27 August 1999. Indicted with him were his deputy Sgt Syaful Anwar, and six Alfa Team members:[4]

  • Tomas da Costa, Alfa Team company commander (Danki)
  • Inacio Oliveira, Alfa Team section commander
  • Joaquim Januario
  • Gilberto Fernandes
  • Jose Da Costa
  • Lamberto dos Santos

Also indicted were three BRTT members, listed under BRTT district chairman and Lautem district chief, Edmundo Conceicao Silva (who was also indicted). All those indicted except Gilberto Fernandes (in prison on other charges) remain free, most in Indonesia, which is not cooperating with the East Timor legal process.

On the evening of 27 August 1999, Lt Rahman Zulkarnaen and Sgt Syaful Anwar ordered Alfa Team militia members to attack the house of CNRT leader Verissimo Dias Quintao, a respected aristocratic figure. The CNRT office was located within Quintao’s residential compound. A celebration with 150 people had been held there that day to mark the end of the campaigning period before the ballot on 30 August. CNRT had only recently reconstituted itself after being pressured into closing down earlier.

Syaful Anwar drove the vehicle, also picking up several BRTT members before launching the attack (for their names see Edmundo Conceicao Silva). Verissimo Dias Quintao was slashed to death by BRTT militia members Martinho da Costa and Jose Solari, who were themselves also injured in the attack. Quintao had urged the remaining 30 guests to hide in his house, and they survived.

Afterwards Syaful Anwar ordered the men back into the vehicle and he returned them to the Kopassus/ Alfa Team base. There Rahman Zulkarnaen ordered them to place their rifles in a box so they could be hidden, as ‘white men’ would be checking the base.

On 3 September 1999, according to the Dili indictment, Rahman Zulkarnaen and Syaful Anwar met with about twenty Alfa Team members at the Kopassus base to review past performance. Edmundo Conceicao Silva was also present. The three senior figures warned the Alfa Team militia members to be as clean and careful as possible during operations such as kidnapping.

On 25 September 1999 Team Alfa members led by Joni Marquez murdered a church delegation at Lautem Junction. Marquez suggested that his Kopassus superiors [Rahman Zulkarnaen and Syaful Anwar] may have ordered the operation.

Extra Information

Implicated in Events:
Lautem Junction - 25/09/1999 - Murder of a church delegation of nine in Lautem district

Current Status:
T - Committed for trial in East Timor, some already sentenced.

See map of location

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Lt Syaful Anwar
Edmundo Conceicao
Joni Marquez
LtCol Yayat Sudrajat
LtCol Sudrajat A S
Col Sunarko

[1]Further information on Extra 19/98 (ASA 21/18/98, 4 March 1998) - Possible arbitrary arrest / Fear of torture or ill-treatment EAST TIMOR’, Amnesty International (ASA 21/39/98), 23 April 1998.

[2] 'East Timor: Stop bank loans until militias disarmed', Human Rights Watch, 20 April 1999. 'Sama susahnya, menang atau kalah', Tajuk, ed.12 yr.2, mid-August 1999, inflated Tim Alfa's membership to 2000; 'East Timor under the Indonesian jackboot: An analysis of Indonesian army documents', Tapol, 15 November 1998; Yemris Fointuna, 'Militiamen get warm welcome in East Timor', The Jakarta Post, 2 April 2002; 'The General Prosecutor V Joni Marques and 9 others (the Los Palos case): A JSMP trial report', Dili, East Timor: Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP), March 2002,

[3] 'East Timor under the Indonesian jackboot: An analysis of Indonesian army documents', Tapol, 15 November 1998.

[4] Indictment available online at under ‘Team Alpha/ BRTT’.


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