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Ismail a.k.a Minak Radin: Hunger takes over other considerations
Ismail a.k.a Minak Radin. TEMPO/Febriyan
Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 | 16:38 WIB
Ismail a.k.a Minak Radin: Hunger takes over other considerations

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - In the past two decades, the name Minak Radi has often come up in police investigations. Minak, 43, is known as a veteran begal or robber, often operating in the big cities. He would not only steal motorcycles, but would also steal from offices. Every time a crime is committed, the police's first suspicion always falls on Ismail alias Minak. "But I've seen the light," Ismail told Tempo at his home in East Lampung, two weeks ago.

Ismail is now preoccupied with his sand quarry, which stretches over 100 hectares. But the police still suspect him whenever a crime occurs. Ismail, who has been in and out of jail, is feared by the younger thugs.

Many of the begal or criminal thugs come from Lampung ...

Actually, they don't all come from here. They come from all over. Maybe they claim to come from Lampung.


Why do the police describe Melinting and Jabung as begal villages?

It's true that some people become criminal thugs and I cannot deny that. But those who say the two villages are dominated by thugs cannot understand the frustration and bitterness of youths over here. They have no money and are disenfranchised.


You are still suspected of committing crimes.

I've been clean since 2008. Thanks to God, I now earn a bit of money from mining sand and rocks. I asked about 80-100 people to join me in my quarry and they work well. None one of them wants to be bandits.


How did you get your capital? From committing crimes?

Not all of it, only the initial part. I also got something from my plantations and used my savings.


When did you first begin committing crimes?

In 1992, after I was fired from a factory in Tangerang. I operated in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and even as far as Singapore and Malaysia. But over there I didn't steal motorcycles, I only stole from houses.


How is a gang formed?

Thugs have lots of friends because they go in and out of prisons often. After a stint in prison, they call each other then they meet. Usually it's through a friend asking if we want to join.


How many would take part in one operation?

In my day, to steal a motorcycle, there would be two of us. When we raided a home, six or more people would be involved, depending on the level of difficulty.


Do you have advance teams to survey the place first?

Not for motorcycles. We usually just took them. But robbing houses or shops needs a prior survey. For example the location of the target, how far was the closest police precinct, how frequent the police patrolled the area and what would be our escape route.


Why do begal always carry sharp objects or guns?

I rarely carried weapons. When I set out to steal a motorcycle, there were only two of us. One would be a jockey, the other would grab the motorcycle. We never had big gangs of six or eight people, as they have now, and always in pairs.


Why did that change?

Maybe because they must be more alert. The police and the people are tougher today. Our principle is: better they die instead of us.


Are you acquainted with Is Kambing, a veteran from Jabung?

I know him well, we were good friends once. He was the fence for stolen goods, and two of his younger siblings were with me but they're now dead, shot by the police. Is Kambing is now a drug dealer in East Lampung. (*)

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