Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jemaah Islamiyah Adopts the Hezbollah Model. Part III


by Zachary Abuza

3rd  part of 3


The Hezbollah model is not new to terrorist organizations, but it is new to Jemaah Islamiyah. Jemaah Islamiyah has taken advantage of an opening: Political will in Indonesia to dismantle terrorist infrastructure has waned as the nature of the group's militancy has become apparent. Released from prison, the group's leaders have been able to focus on political, religious, and charitable work. The civilian infrastructure they have developed will make the group—still committed to terrorism—more durable over the long term.

Policymakers in Indonesia need to understand precedent. The existence of charities and social service networks has not made Hamas or Hezbollah any less violent although they have contributed to de-legitimization of governments. The Indonesian government should do what the Lebanese, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority governments did not: They must uproot social networks. Few governments have put forward a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the phenomenon of the inverse triangle, and most disaggregate the terrorist and social welfare arms and fund raising.

There is intense international pressure on the Indonesian government to ban Jemaah Islamiyah, but no politician in the world's largest Muslim community has the political courage to do so. As Indonesia's top counterterrorism official, Ansyaad Mbai, stated, the reason there is no ban on Jemaah Islamiyah "is because the political situation is still very sensitive."[52] Complacency and political expediency rule the day in Jakarta. As long as Jemaah Islamiyah members do not blow things up or simply target Western interests, Jakarta will do little.

It is not just courts and counterterrorism officials who have grown frustrated. A handful of Muslim reformers and liberals have been at the center of a push to rewrite Law No. 8 (1995) on nongovernmental organizations to tighten both the process of NGO incorporation and increase oversight. The proposed law will make fundraising by unregistered (or de-registered) NGOs illegal. The proposed law would make Jemaah Islamiyah's fundraising illegal under Indonesian domestic law.[53]

This unwillingness to take on terrorist infrastructure is regrettable. First, like Hezbollah and Hamas, Jemaah Islamiyah has a long-term timetable. Second, by pursuing overt strategies, Jemaah Islamiyah is able to forge closer ties and common cause with Islamists who might otherwise eschew their violence. Many Indonesians no longer see Jemaah Islamiyah as a radical fringe organization even though the group's agenda has not changed. Third, there is little evidence that Jemaah Islamiyah will abandon terrorism. Tactics may shift, but strategy does not. Herein, Hamas again provides an example that should worry Indonesian authorities. Its assumption of political control in Gaza has not tempered its commitment to terrorism; indeed, Hamas has become even more aggressive since the January 2006 Palestinian elections.

Herein, Washington and other Western governments have an interest. Indonesia may be half a world away from the United States, but any Islamist gains in the archipelago nation will have profound repercussions on U.S. national security. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, and the United States should not cede the Indonesian population to the same Saudi-funded Islamists who radicalized their Arab brethren, recruited unencumbered for years in Afghan and Pakistani refugee camps, and profess an inflexible hatred of the United States, Israel, and the West. Washington should pressure Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines to uproot Jemaah Islamiyah's overt presence and cede them no political space where they can recruit and indoctrinate anew. Targeting their financial and social networks is essential to the long-term fight against terrorism.

Zachary Abuza is a professor of political science at Simmons College and author of Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror (Lynne Rienner, 2003), Muslims, Politics and Violence in Indonesia (Routledge, 2006), and Conspiracy of Silence: Islam and Insurgency in Thailand (U.S. Institute of Peace, forthcoming 2009).

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


[1] "How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates," Asia Report, no. 43, International Crisis Group, Jakarta/Brussels, Dec. 11, 2002; "Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous," Asia Report, no. 63, idem, Aug. 26, 2003.
[2] The New York Times, July 4, 2008.
[3] Lawrence Wright, "The Rebellion Within," The New Yorker, June 2, 2008.
[4] "Indonesia Backgrounder: Jihad in Central Sulawesi," Asia Report, no. 74, International Crisis Group, Jakarta/Brussels, Feb. 3, 2004.
[5] The Observer (London), Nov. 20, 2005; SperoNews, Nov. 9, 2006.
[6] Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2004.
[7] "Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Publishing Industry," Asia Report, no. 147, International Crisis Group, Feb. 28, 2008.
[8] See parallels, for example, in Israel Elad-Altman, "Democracy, Elections, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood," Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Feb. 2006.
[9] Raphael Israeli, "The Islamic Movement in Israel," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Oct. 15, 1999.
[10] See, for example, Augustus Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), pp. 152-60.
[11] See, for example, Alistair Crooke and Vanessa Shields, "The Road Ahead: Perspectives on Disarming Hamas," Conciliation Resources, London, June 2005.
[12] Author interview with Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, Ngruki, Solo, June 11, 2002.
[13] Author interview with Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia officials, Yogyakarta, June 12-13, 2002; Korgres Mujahidini Dan Penegakan Syari'ah Islam (Yogyakarta: Widah Press, 2001); "Should Not Fear Being Called ‘Radical,'" Farish Noor interview with Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, Al-Jazeera television (Doha), Aug. 21, 2006.
[14] Al-Jazeera, Aug. 21, 2006.
[15] Fatima Astuti, "Speculation on Formalizing Jemaah Islamiyah," IDSS Commentaries, The Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore, Aug. 9, 2006.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Luthfi Assyaukanie, "The Rise of Religious Bylaws in Indonesia," RSIS Commentaries, Rajarathnam School of International Studies, Singapore, Mar. 29, 2007.
[18] The Sunday Times (London), July 30, 2006.
[19] Ba'asyir, "Should Not Fear Being Called ‘Radical.'"
[20] Author's copy of video, untitled and undated.
[21] Author interview with Irfan Awwas, Yogyakarta, July 13, 2002.
[22] See for example,, Sept. 20, 2006.
[23] Author interviews at Al-Haramain's office, East Jakarta, Apr. 2004.
[24] "Interrogation Report of Omar al-Faruq," Badan Intelijen Negara (State intelligence agency) Jakarta, June 2002.
[25] Author's personal observation.
[26] "Security Council Committee Adds One Individual, One Entity to Al-Qaida Sections of Consolidated List," Security Council, SC/8801, Aug. 4, 2006.
[27] Time, Sept. 23, 2003.
[28] Author interview with H. Asep R. Jayanegara, secretary, Komite Penanggulangan Krisis, Dewan Dakwah Islam Indonesia, Jakarta, Jan. 8, 2003.
[29] Zachary Abuza, "Funding Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Financial Network of Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah," NBR Analysis, The National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, Dec. 2003.
[30] The Jakarta Post, Jan. 10, 2006.
[31] Abdullah Sunata, Philippine National Police, debriefing report, Aug. 12, 2005.
[32] "Baasyir's Mujahidin Bound for Aceh," Laksamana.Net, Jan. 4, 2004.
[33] Kyodo News International, Inc., Dec. 9, 2002; The Australian (Sydney), Feb. 24, 2005.
[34] "Military Expels Some Mujahidin from Aceh," Laksamana.Net, Jan. 11, 2005.
[35] "Baasyir's Mujahidin Bound for Aceh," Laksamana.Net, Jan. 4, 2004.
[36] Associated Press, Jan. 7, 2004.
[37] "Database of Terrorist Organizations and Activities," The Information Project, accessed Oct. 7, 2008; Eusaquito P. Manalo, "The Philippine Response to Terrorism: The Abu Sayyaf Group," (MA diss., Naval Postgraduate School, Dec. 2004), p. 56. The MERC website has been closed or moved.
[38] "Pasir Hitum Teluk Galela" and "Dan Kesaksian Pun Menangis," previously available from the MERC website.
[39] Executive Order 13224, U.S. Treasury Department; U.N. 1267 Committee, Aug. 3, 2006.
[40] The Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2008.
[41] "PKS Wants Foreign Troops Removed," Laksamana.Net, Jan. 11, 2004.
[42] Associated Press, Jan. 14, 2005.
[43] Uriya Shavit, "Al-Qaeda's Saudi Origins," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2006, p. 3-13.
[44] Qods (Tehran), Nov. 11, 2007; Islamic Student News Agency (Tehran), Mar. 2, 2008; Sobh-e Sadeq (Tehran), June 12, 2008.
[45] The Jakarta Post, Sept. 21, 2006.
[46] The New York Times, Aug. 1, 2006.
[47] Free Aceh Movement (GAM), news release, The Acheh Times, Jan. 10, 2005.
[48] "Downer Complains to WFP over Bakar Bashir," Unity, United Nations Association of Australia, Garran, no. 465, June 16, 2006.
[49] Associated Press, June 14, 2006.
[50] ABC News, June 15, 2006; (Australia), June 16, 2006.

 [51] Associated Press, June 14, 2006.
[52] "Jemaah Islamiyah to be Banned,", Mar. 21, 2005.
[53] Author interview with a drafter of the proposed law and a consultant to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Jakarta, July 8, 2008.


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