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Letters from Tokyo
Indonesia and Islamic Terrorism
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
An Islamic school in Indonesia

The government of Indonesia faces many internal problems because of the geographical reality of this nation and ethnic and religious tension does engulf Indonesia from time to time. However, what is worrying is the possible collusion between radical Sunni Islamists and the security services of Indonesia. Therefore, is collusion happening in places like Sulawesi and West Papua (Irian Jaya) or is it a long-term goal of containing Christians and ethnic minorities?

If we turn the clock back to 2001 and focus on events in that year, then it is clear that either collusion was happening or events happened because it was a direct policy of the government of Indonesia?

This applies to Laskar Jihad because this brutal Sunni Islamic terrorist organization sent even more fighters to central Sulawesi in order to persecute Christians. Laskar Jihad, like other past or current Islamic terrorist organizations, is brutal, barbaric, and cowardly.

Laskar Jihad, just like other radical Sunni Islamic terrorist organizations, believe that it is their Koran-Hadith inspired duty to kill innocents and to install fear. Therefore, the region of Sulawesi was a paradise for them to cause mayhem and to create a major gulf between both communities. Given this, events spiralled out of control and inter-religious clashes erupted because these outsiders to Sulawesi desired to kill in the name of Islam.

However, much more disturbing is the role of the government of Indonesia or elements within the security services and military. After all, Laskar Jihad was given a free reign to enter the region and this radical Sunni Islamic terrorist network was not removed from this delicate region. Therefore, surely collusion was taking place, if so, then how can religious or ethnic minorities feel secure in Indonesia?

After all, it is noticeable that in Sulawesi and West Papua that Islamists and the government of Indonesia do have vested interests which overlap. Also the situation in East Timor in the past mirrored covert operations based on systematic terror and fear.

Yet East Timor belonged to the “old world” of nationalism and preserving the nation state of Indonesia. However, just like the Palestinian situation, it became clear that Islamic terrorism and militant organizations were on the rise. The secular nature of Palestinian resistance now lies in tatters because Hamas and others now have a clear Islamic agenda, therefore, Sulawesi and West Papua are seeing a “new world” whereby Islamists have an ideological motive in spreading hate and dhimmitude.

Zachary Abuza, the author of Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, Crucible of Terror, states “The government never prevented the Laskar Jihad militia from coming, nor did it try to expel them. Muslim paramilitaries were reportedly armed with machine guns (including M-16s) and rocket-propelled grenades, forcing thousands of Christians to flee.”

This raises serious issues because it appears that the government of Indonesia and various radical Islamic organizations do share a common ground. Of course, many Indonesian political leaders do not share the same theme but important elites within powerful institutions do share similar concerns, albeit from different perspectives.

Zachary Abuza comments that “First, Jafar Umar Thalib and the Laskar Jihad have considerable political support. Vice President Hamzah Haz has been a staunch defender of the organization and helped get Thalib acquitted in January 2003.” Zachary Abuza also states that “…while the military has at times had to employ force against the Laskar Jihad, the reality is that the two organizations have the same goal in preventing secessionist movements from succeeding, as happened with East Timor.”

However, the Indonesian government will clampdown when vested interests are threatened and this applies to Islamic terrorist attacks in Bali or against hotels, and other economic based attacks. Also, it appears that the government will take action against international Islamic jihadists rather than home-grown Islamists.

Once more, Zachary Abuza comments that “Until the Bali bombing, Indonesia took few constructive measures in the war on terrorism. The Singaporean, Malaysian, Philippine, and U.S. governments all expressed utter frustration with the Indonesian government, and despite many appeals, the Indonesians did not arrest any Indonesian suspects wanted abroad.”

Therefore, just like the government of Pakistan which manipulated radical Sunni Islamists to cause mayhem in Afghanistan and Kashmir; the government of Indonesia had similar vested interests when it applied to domestic issues.

However, the Pakistan government can no longer control elements within Pakistan because Islamists have been emboldened and they desire to enforce Islamic Sharia law and dhimmitude throughout the nation. Indonesia does not face this problem because the centre is much stronger but it is a dangerous game to play and it is clear that religious minorities and secularists in Indonesia are worried about this.

Also, Islamists will have ample opportunities to stir mayhem because various parts of Indonesia remain tense and another major incident could easily ignite tensions. The people of West Papua may also witness Islamization because of increasing Muslim migration and Islamic organizations which have a shared agenda with the government of Indonesia.

In an article published by Asia News in 2006 it stated that “Islamic extremist groups are entering West Papuan territory, with the consent of elements of the Indonesian army, to set up bases there.” Therefore, this part of Indonesia faces severe problems and Islamic radicals and government agencies have similar objectives. Given this, many Papuans are worried about religious persecution and state-sanctioned persecution.


Therefore, Christian areas of Indonesia face a frontal attack against them and this applies to Javanization, Islamization, direct government policies, and the threat of Islamic terrorism in sensitive parts of Indonesia is always possible.

This policy does not apply to the whole of Indonesia and it must be mentioned that this nation is very complex because Christians have much greater freedom in Indonesia than in the majority of mainly Muslim nations. Yet for Christians in sensitive areas of national interest or in areas of distinct divisions, then the situation is very different.

Despite this, it is clear that the implementation of Islamic Sharia law is a worry for all religious minorities, moderate Muslims and secularists. Therefore, radical Islamic organizations must not be given a free reign because if this happens, then the only victory will be for the dark forces of humanity and this means radical Sunni Islam and the implementation of Sharia Islamic law.

It is now vital that pressure is put on all nations which are colluding with radical Islamic terrorist organizations or with radical Islamic educational institutions because this is where the brainwashing begins. Therefore, more pressure must be put on Indonesia to clampdown against radical Islamic institutions and to stop the manipulation of these networks when it comes to secessionist problems within Indonesia.



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. Website at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com where work is published.

 

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