by Zachary Abuza
2nd part of 3
Jemaah Islamiyah used or co-opted many of these charities between 1999 and 2001, during a period of sectarian bloodletting in the Molucca Islands between Jemaah Islamiyah's paramilitaries and Christian and Hindu citizens. Dewan Dakwah Islam
Of the thirteen regional directors of KOMPAK, at least three were top-level Jemaah Islamiyah operatives. KOMPAK, however, only came to the assistance of Muslim communities, which it worked to radicalize. KOMPAK officials, while acknowledging that they operate in regions struck by sectarian conflict such as Aceh, Poso, the
As with other jihadist organizations and corollary charities in
Aris Munandar, a top KOMPAK and Al-Haramain official, was a key financial conduit between Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. Agus Dwikarna not only served as head of KOMPAK for
The Indonesian crackdown broke KOMPAK into disparate cells, but the organization did not cease its commitment to radicalization. One such splinter group, KOMPAK in
It is clear, therefore, that the KOMPAK network, funded by Saudi charities, helped develop Jemaah Islamiyah. It also illustrates clearly that terrorist organizations can be created from social networks.
Hambali, Jemaah Islamiyah's top operative in
Tsunami and Earthquake
The December 2004 tsunami and the May 2006 earthquake in central Java, both massive humanitarian crises, provide a window into just how Jemaah Islamiyah and its charities operate to further Islamist agendas.
On December 26, 2004, an earthquake off the coast of
Abdurrahman's Laskar Mujahidin also used the tsunami to propel itself to new relevance. Founded in January 2000 by Abdurrahman and Hambali, both of whom had experience fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the group fielded approximately 500 armed combatants in the Moluccas who were equipped with high-speed motor boats, which they used to attack remote Christian and Hindu communities. After the tsunami, they established four base camps in Aceh including one outside the airport, adjacent to the camps of other domestic and international relief organizations, beneath a sign that read, "Islamic Law Enforcement." Unlike Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, which was more concerned with providing "spiritual guidance" and restoring "infrastructure in places of religious duties," the Laskar Mujahidin was deeply involved in relief work, including the distribution of aid and especially the burial of corpses. Though the organization is vehemently anti-American, it gave cautious backing to the presence of
Joining Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia and Laskar Mujahidin was the Medical Emergency Relief Charity (MERC), an Indonesian executor agency for Saudi funding. Established on August 14, 1999, amidst sectarian fighting, MERC now has twelve offices in
The Islamist charities flocked to Aceh for three reasons. The first was to garner good press and media attention, providing a needed makeover for groups associated with terrorism and sectarian violence while simultaneously highlighting the secular government's failure. Second, the Islamist charities sought to counter any Western influence. Hence, Din Syamsudin, the head of the quasi-official Indonesian Ulema Council and president of the second largest Muslim organization in the country, Muhammadiyah, who has subsequently acted as a fundraiser for Hamas, warned:
All nongovernmental organizations, either domestic or international ... This is a reminder. Do not do this [proselytize] in this kind of situation. The Muslim community will not remain quiet. This is a clear statement, and it is serious.
Paranoia about Western influence has become a prime motivator for Islamist groups in the
Third, these groups saw the disaster as an opportunity to proselytize. Several groups in addition to Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia indicated that their primary goal was to provide "spiritual guidance" to victims, ensure that Islamic law was being followed, and to assist in the reconstruction of mosques. With 400,000 refugees and mosques at the center of rural community relief efforts, the potential for influence was great.
The cynicism of the Islamist parties grated on local political movements. While Aceh is nearly 100 percent Muslim, the Acehenese secessionist movement, the Free Aceh Movement known by its acronym GAM (Gerakan Aceh Meredeka), urged the international community to force the Islamist groups to leave in apparent frustration with the government's unwillingness to do so:
We therefore call on the international community to demand that the FPI [Front Pembela Islam] and Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia leave Acheh … The FPI and Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia are not welcome in Acheh and have never been supported by the Achenese people, nor has their presence been requested. The FPI has been involved in sectarian killings in Maluku and
Tsunami relief efforts provided a template for subsequent operations, most notably in the May 27, 2006 earthquake in central Java. The magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 6,000 people, injured 78,000, and left up to 1.5 million homeless. The United Nations' World Food Program moved quickly into central Java and chose Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia as one of eight partner organizations to deliver ninety-five tons of food aid. The Australian government immediately protested Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia's contract, but World Food Program spokesman Barry Came said, "We don't pick groups to distribute aid based on their religious or political beliefs. We choose based on the ability to deliver, and so far they've performed up to standard. We have no complaints." He backed down, however, under international pressure. Both Ba'asyir and Abdurrahman had been proscribed under U.N. Security Council 1267 Committee lists as specially designated terrorist financiers, and Ba'asyir, just released from prison, was reportedly planning to deliver the World Food Program aid personally.
The episode highlights a major problem facing the West when combating Islamism: The United Nations and international agencies either refuse to perform due diligence or use moral equivalency to justify support for Islamist organizations. Not only do such organizations receive Saudi support as they pursue sectarian radicalization, but too often they also indirectly receive subsidies from Western taxpayers who fund international organizations.