Masters of Terror
Home | Map | Search
Browse list of major EVENTS
Suspects by NAME
Suspecs by STATUS
Suspects by RANK
Map of East Timor
Elite Forces

  Suspect outline
Home unit:
Assistant for operations to Army chief of staff

MajGen (Inf) Kiki Syahnakri

Operations Assistant to Army Chief of Staff; Martial law administrator 7 September - 27 September 1999

Kiki Syahnakri was the East Timor expert on the staff of army chief of staff Gen Subagyo. The Dunn Report concluded that his involvement in human rights violations in East Timor in 1999 may have been 'peripheral'.[1] It is more likely to have been substantial, first as a Jakarta coordinator for a special military team for East Timor (headed by MayGen Zacky Anwar Makarim), then briefly as post-ballot Indonesian martial law administrator responsible directly to armed forces commander Gen Wiranto, and finally as Indonesian regional military commander for Udayana, a territorial command that included West Timor, which became the base for retreating pro-Indonesian militias. On 24 February 2003 he was charged in absentia with crimes against humanity before the Dili special panel. Indicted with him were six other senior military officers including Gen Wiranto (where the indictment is summarised), as well as Governor Abilio Soares.

In March 1999 Syahnakri met several East Timorese pro-Indonesian militia leaders, including Tomas Goncalves, at Abri headquarters in Jakarta. Goncalves, who defected in April 1999, said Kiki impressed on them the need to go ahead with the militias. The TNI, said Syahnakri, 'was getting weaker and the only way for the pro-autonomy forces to defend themselves is by organising the militia. If there are any sons of Timorese who wanted to fight for the red-and-white flag, they would support them with guns and money.'[2] Goncalves named Kiki Syahnakri as one of nine senior military officers implementing the militia strategy within Abri.[3] The Dili indictment against him was no doubt describing the same meeting when it said Syahnakri met with pro-Indonesian East Timorese leaders at Abri headquarters in Jakarta in March 1999. He told them TNI would support their pro-Indonesian efforts. He said MajGen Zacky Makarim was responsible for coordinating activities leading up to the ballot. Firearms had been sent to East Timor, he said, and they should contact Col Tono Suratman upon their return to Dili to arrange distribution.

On 29-30 March 1999 Syahnakri joined the Indonesian delegation to a closed-door meeting with East Timorese and other international actors at Chatham House in London. He was one of only two senior Indonesian military officers there, the other being Air Vice-Marshal Graito Usodo.[4] A confidential source who was there told us the entire Indonesian delegation was 'fully involved' with the pre-ballot militia strategy, as well as 'informed' about the post-ballot contingency plans.

On 14 April 1999 Syahnakri arrived in Dili on a 'working visit' that saw him conduct high level meetings until at least 20 April, the day a powerful military delegation led by General Wiranto arrived from Jakarta to dine with militia leaders.[5]

Immediately after the militia attack on the home of Manuel Carrascalao in Dili on 17 April 1999, Kiki Syahnakri, Zacky Makarim and East Timor commander Col Tono Suratman visited Bishop Belo. All three assured him of their readiness to guarantee the safety of the people, 'down to the level of the village'.[6] However, a report he and Zacky Makarim were asked to write for armed forces headquarters on the Liquica massacre of 6 April was far less reassuring for the Timorese. The death toll, they concluded, was only five, and the cause was fighting between the Timorese themselves.[7]

Compelling evidence therefore links MajGen Kiki Syahnakri with a three-mean team in East Timor led by MajGen Zacky Anwar Makarim. Its two other members were Kiki's former assistant BrigGen Glenny Kairupan, and the East Timor police chief from Kiki's days as East Timor military commander Col (Pol) Andreas Sugianto.[8] The team's likely mission, to attempt to slow down the drift towards independence by reviving the militias, went back to November 1998.[9]

Syahnakri acknowledged that it was he who drafted the telegram of 5 May 1999 that was signed by his immediate superior LtGen Johny Lumintang and sent to a wide range of senior military and government officials. The telegram envisaged a major evacuation from East Timor in the event of the pro-independence option winning the ballot.[10]

On 18 June 1999 he reportedly took part in a meeting at the East Timor military headquarters (Korem) with Zacky Makarim, Glenny Kairupan, Tono Suratman and several militia leaders. The meeting developed two detailed contingency plans. The first aimed to derail the vote through coordinated violence. The second, far more complex, plan was prepared in case the vote was held and went against Indonesia. This involved using the militias to reject the results and to demand that East Timor be partitioned.[11]

Although there were reports claiming he spent a lot of time in East Timor in the last two months before the ballot,[12] Unamet chief executive Ian Martin makes no mention of Syahnakri's presence in East Timor after Unamet's arrival in early June and a Syahnakri visit in late August. On 25 or 26 August Unamet did helicopter Syahnakri from Dili to a Falintil base in the mountains in a last-ditch attempt to head off violence through dialogue.[13] However, Syahnakri probably played a low-key coordinating role between Jakarta and Zacky's team in those months.

On 30 August, the day of the ballot, realising the vote would go against Indonesia, the Zacky team allegedly met at the official residence of the East Timor military commander (by then Col Nur Muis). Syahnakri was in attendance, according to one report. They decided that a massive riot would break out on the day the ballot result was announced - at that stage thought to be 7 September 1999. Telephone and electricity would be cut. The Dili-based Aitarak militia would have the major role of controlling all transport points in and out of East Timor.[14]

On 5 September, the day after the result was announced, he attended a meeting of nearly all the top military officers mentioned in this book, including Gen Wiranto. It was held in the official Dili residence of the East Timor commander, Col Nur Muis. The meeting took place while militias and troops were attacking the Catholic diocesan chambers only 2 km away (see Mateus de Carvalho). 

As martial law administrator between 7 September (or in practical terms, 8 September, when he received his orders) and 27 September 1999 he was often credited by foreign observers as one TNI officer who tried his best to reign in militia violence. However, the fact remains that some of the worst post-ballot atrocities took place under his command. If his role in planning that violence was indeed as important as it is described above, his failure to reign in the violence is not merely a sin of omission but one of commission.

Kiki's deputy as martial law administrator was LtCol (CZI) Lilik Kushadiyanto, who may have played a role in the Suai massacre of 8 September.

More importantly, Kiki was assisted by Col Gerhan Lentara and Col Irwan Kusnadi, both commanders within the Kostrad combat Airborne Brigade and both with extensive East Timor experience. In effect the appointment restored the old Kolakops system in which a commander outside the territorial apparatus commands combat operations.[15] It is thought that these sectoral commands were a key element in the militia strategy throughout 1999.[16]

Kiki's deputy at this time was Brig-Gen Amirul Isnaeni, a Kopassus counter-insurgency expert who later went on to command Kopassus.

According to Alan Nairn in a radio interview just before he was deported from East Timor on 15 September 1999, the Aitarak militia were operating out of the Korem 164/ Wira Dharma (East Timor) headquarters which Kiki was using as a base for the martial law command. Nairn added it was obvious that the militias were working closely with Kiki.[17]

On 27 September 1999 Syahnakri handed over security control in East Timor to Interfet commander MajGen Peter Cosgrove and withdrew to Bali, where he replaced Adam Damiri as Udayana regional military commander. The region includes West Timor, which had become the base for East Timorese militias.

Following a militia attack in Atambua, West Timor, on 6 September 2000 that left three foreign UN humanitarian workers dead, US ambassador to Indonesia Robert Gelbard called for Kiki Syahnakri's dismissal as Udayana commander for failing to control militia violence. The murders caused worldwide outrage and led to UN humanitarian workers among the refugees pulling out of West Timor.[18]

In July 2000 he was mooted for commander of the Jakarta military area, but failed to win the appointment. However, in November 2000 he did even better, being appointed deputy army chief of staff. He attributed the promotion to strong support by 'prointegration' people. Glenny Kairupan echoed the sentiment, saying Kiki had 'widespread' support within the armed forces.[19]

Just after the announcement that he would move up to Jakarta, four dissident militia leaders, fearing assassination by the TNI, made moves to cross over to Untaet, offering the UN information about military backing for the militias in exchange for immunity. Syahnakri threatened to arrest them. In response, one of the dissidents, Nemecio de Carvalho, hinted that Kiki was responsible for the refugee exodus from East Timor and that his appointment to deputy army chief of staff would only invite further international pressure on Indonesia.[20]

Syahnakri appears to have played a leading part in allowing, if not organising, the expansion of militia activities in West Timor since his appointment as Udayana commander. US ambassador Gelbard publicly attacked him on 25 September 2000, saying that 'Syahnakri has not been able to disarm the militia groups in the last 10 months, since he was appointed military commander. The question now is how come that the armed groups are even stronger than ten months before?'[21]

The militia dissidents also said Kiki Syahnakri had money to run a campaign to prevent refugees from returning to East Timor.[22]

Syahnakri always denied that the TNI armed or organised the militias. In October 2000 he challenged militia leader turned dissident, Joanico Cesario Belo, another one of the four, to prove his assertion that he (Kiki Syahnakri), as a Timor veteran, knew precisely who was arming and training the militias.[23] Rather than by a TNI plan, Syahnakri said the territory was devastated by both East Timorese sides, 'running amok'.[24]

His first job as deputy army chief of staff was to prevent Untaet officials from interviewing TNI officers over human rights abuse in East Timor. 'We will never hand over our soldiers for questioning conducted in the interests of Untaet,' he said.[25]


Kiki Syahnakri (Sjahnakri Yudha Kusuma) was born in 1947 in West Java. He graduated from military academy in 1971. His career has been in Kostrad, mostly in East Timor, where he speaks the local language. In 1994-95 he was in charge of the East Timor territorial command (Danrem 164). One source says he was close to Prabowo and 'was linked with various unsavoury things that Prabowo's units used to get up to, in Timor and elsewhere’.[26] He was removed from his East Timor command in 1995 on the recommendation of the Military Honour Council investigating the murder of six East Timorese in Liquica by a Korem officer.

Extra Information

Implicated in Events:
Battalion 745 withdrawal - 21/09/1999 - Battalion 745 withdrawal

Cailaco - 13/04/1999 - Public execution of 5 (6?) suspected pro-independence supporters, Cailaco, Bobonaro

Carrascalao - 17/04/1999 - Murder of 12 at home of Manuel Carrascalao, Dili

Diocese - 5/09/1999 - Attack on Dili diocesan office

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

Liquica - 6/04/1999 - Liquica church massacre

Maliana - 8/09/1999 - Maliana police station massacre

Passabe - 10/09/1999 - Massacre at Passabe, Ambeno (Oecusse enclave)

Suai - 6/09/1999 - Suai church massacre

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

D - Dunn. The report of James Dunn, consultant to the Untaet Prosecutor General Mr Mohamed Othman, April 2001.

See map of location

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
LtGen Djamari Chaniago
MajGen Adam Damiri
LtGen (ret) A.M. Hendropriyono
LtCol Hisar Richard Hutajulu
MajGen Amirul Isnaeni
BrigGen Glenny Kairupan
LtCol Lilik Kushadiyanto
Col Irwan Kusnadi
Col Gerhan Lentara
LtGen Johny Lumintang
MajGen Zacky Anwar Makarim
MajGen Mochtar Ma'ruf
Col Nur Muis
Gen Subagyo Hadi Siswojo
Laurentino ('Moko') Soares
LtGen (ret) Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo
Col (Pol) Andreas Sugianto
Col Tono Suratman
MajGen Endriartono Sutarto
Gen Wiranto
MajGen (ret) Yunus Yosfiah

[1] James Dunn, 'Crimes against humanity in East Timor, January to October 1999: Their nature and causes', Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2001.

[2] Marian Wilkinson, 'Justice must be done', The Age [Melbourne] and Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 2000.

[3] Radio Hilversum interview 6 October 1999. The nine can be divided into a group of five from Abri headquarters clustered under the Abri chief of staff and military intelligence BIA - namely Zacky Makarim, 'BrigGen Amirut' (BrigGen Amirul Isnaeni), Glenny Kairupan, Kiki Syahnakri, and Tyasno Sudarto - then two in the territorial structure - Adam Damiri and Tono Suratman - plus the SGI commander. Goncalves named Tono Suratman and the SGI commanders, first (Wiyotomo) Nugroho then Yayat Sudrajat, as the two chief executives, who always said they acted in the name of the other more senior officers. Tomas Goncalves was a militia leader who had fought alongside the Indonesian military in the 1975 invasion, and had since had a local government career in East Timor. He knew all these military men well. But he became disillusioned with the gruesome task when asked to do it again in 1999.

[4] Sabam Siagian, 'Diskusi tentang transisi di Indonesia', Suara Pembaruan, 3 April 1999; 'Intelligence' Far Eastern Economic Review, 8 April 1999.

[5] '"Operasi  Sapu Jagad" –  Indonesian military’s  plan to disrupt independence', East Timor Observatory (FA10-1999/10/21eng), 28 October 1999; 'Wiranto gagal temui kubu prokem', Jawa Pos, 21 April 1999.

[6] 'Renewed violence rocks troubled East Timor capital', AFP, 18 April 1999; 'Belo sesalkan bentrok fisik di Timtim', Kompas, 19 April 1999.

[7] Don Greenlees and Robert Garran, Deliverance: The inside story of East Timor's fight for freedom, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2002, p.126.

[8] 'Mayjen Zacky Anwar Makarim ditarik dari Dili', MateBEAN, 31 August 1999; ‘Operasi pasca jajak pendapat’, Xpos, 6 September 1999.

[9] Some reports have connected their operation with one code-named 'Hanoin Loro Sae' ('Skenario bumi hangus di Loro Sa'e', Tempo, 19 September 1999, pp28-29). However, Hanoin Loro Sae seems to have been a purely police affair, albeit one whose line of command was unusual in that it involved police units sent to East Timor directly from Jakarta (see Timbul Silaen).

[10] 'Alatas: There was nothing suddenly in the East Timor problem: TNI admitted that the troops were not yet ready', Kompas, 6 January 2000.

[11] Douglas Kammen, 'The trouble with normal: The Indonesian military, paramilitaries, and the final solution in East Timor,' in Benedict Anderson, ed., Violence and the state in Suharto's Indonesia, Ithaca, NY: Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 2001.

[12] 'Tugas khusus Zacky Makarim di Timor Timur', MateBEAN, 7 August 1999; 'Xpos: TNI ancam perang di Timor Timur', SiaR, 18 August 1999.

[13] Ian Martin, Self-determination in East Timor: The United Nations, the ballot, and international intervention, Boulder (Col): Lynne Riener, 2001, p77 fn7.

[14] 'Xpos: Operasi pasca jajak pendapat', SiaR, 6 September 1999. District head and militia leader Rui Lopes, who defected shortly after the 30 August ballot, also named Kiki and Zacky, as well as SGI, as the main ones who planned the post-ballot mayhem ('Para jendral Indonesia perintahkan pembantaian', MateBEAN, 14 September 1999).

[15] 'Mengenal Panglima Wilayah Darurat Militer Timtim', TNI Watch! posted to SiaR News Service, 10 September 1999.

[16] 'Kiki Syahnakri, Sang Pembantai', Xpos, No. 32/II, 12-18 September 1999.

[17] ‘PM’ ABC Radio National (Australia), 15 September 1999.

[18] 'House members stage a peaceful rally against Gelbard', The Jakarta Post, 16 October 2000.

[19] 'TNI, analysts defend Syahnakri's promotion', Indonesian Observer, 8 November 2000.

[20] 'Military commander and NTT Attorney General have different views: Matter of Cancio and friends' arrest' (translation), Surya Timor, 2 November 2000. See also other items in this paper this day.

[21] 'Syahnakri should concentrate on his task: Gelbard', Jakarta Post website news update, 25 September 2000.

[22] Joanna Jolly, 'Fear and loathing spreads in militia ranks', South China Morning Post, 21 October 2000.

[23] 'Anak muda yang bangkit dari wacana berbahaya', Gamma, 17 October 2000. Joanico Cesario was a Kopassus sergeant in charge of the Saka militia in Baucau.

[24] 'Zacky's testimony deemed "mystical"', Indonesian Observer,  5 January 2000.

[25] 'Indonesia army, MPs rally behind Timor violence suspects', AFP, 9 December 1999. His name appears on a list of officers who should be investigated for atrocities committed in East Timor ('Komisi Ham PBB daftar nama jenderal Indonesia', TNI Watch! posted to SiaR News Service, 29 September 1999).

[26] David Jenkins, 'Nervous about Mr Nice Guy', Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September 1999.


Home | Copyright | About