Will Indonesia’s Jemaah Islamiyah Bounce Back?: Global Politician

August 28, 2007 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indonesian police arrested the country’s most wanted terrorist Zarkasi from Yogyakarta city on 15 June, 2007. Zarkasi, the Indonesian born terrorist was leading the Southeast Asian terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah since 2004.

Just two days earlier to this, police exposed that they had captured Jemaah Islamiyah’s military chief Abu Dujana, during a raid in the island of Java. These two arrests will disrupt Jemaah Islamiyah’s network for sure, but whether it will stop the group’s destructive activities remains a question.

Jemaah Islamiyah is responsible for a string of violence in the Asia Pacific region, including the 2002 bombings on the island of Bali, which left 202 people including 80 foreigners dead. Jemaah Islamiyah meaning ‘Islamic Group’ is dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic State in Southeast Asia incorporating Indonesia, southern Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Over 900 active members are incorporated in the group while thousands other remain as supporters. Leaders of the group are mostly Indonesian nationals who fought or trained in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s.

Several researches indicate that, in addition to raising its own funds, JI receives money and logistic assistance from Middle Eastern and South Asian contacts, Islamic minded nongovernmental organizations and other terrorist groups including the al-Qaida.

The recent arrests of Jemaah Islamiyah’s leader and military boss surely gave its network a major blow but it still possesses the ability to bounce back as it did after the arrest of Hambali in 2003. Keeping JI’s past record in mind, it is predictable that the group will try to regroup very quickly and will mark its presence in the region with a bang. In the process, existing leadership will definitely try to find new techniques of operation so that their network will not be easily detected by the security forces in future.

The capture of Riduan bin Isomoddin Hambali, Jemaah Islamiyah leader and al-Qaida’s Southeast Asia operations chief in August 2003, damaged the group’s strengths but could not reduce its ability to carry out bomb attacks. On September 2004, JI activists activated a car bomb near the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and left 11 people dead.

Intelligent reports suggest that some JI leaders currently are recruiting activists and holding military training in the southern Philippines. One of the main players – Abu Bakar Bashir, considered as the religious leader of the group faced couple of years behind the bars till 2006 and now living in Java.

Additionally, Indonesian police are still looking for Malaysian born Noordin M Top, now heads a breakaway faction of Jemaah Islamiyah. As long as these two persons roam free and preaches new recruits, danger of destructive attacks remains wide open.

Foreign governments, specially Australia, human rights groups and corporate houses operating in Indonesia criticized the government for failing to control Jemaah Islamiyah’s violent activities.

The government admitted that detecting JI militants in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, where administration is open to mass corruption, is very hard. The recent arrests will bring a fair share of relief to the government but it must not lie back for a single moment as the ideology of JI is still intact and it remains a legal organization in Indonesia.

Capturing the most wanted criminals will not do much if the judicial system does not provide support to it. Indonesian government therefore needs to continue its search to arrest other militants and has to improve both legislative and judicial systems of the country to root out Jemaah Islamiyah for ever. (Subhan Choudhury)

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