March 12, 2010:
In Aceh province, Indonesia, police finally caught up with terrorist leader Dulmatin. He was killed in the subsequent gun fight, and positively identified. Dulmatin had a $10 million price on his head, dead or alive. Dulmatin led the terrorists who committed the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia, which killed over 200 people. Most of the victims were Australians, and the attack angered Australians considerably. Dulmatin was the son of a wealthy Malaysian family, and typical of the well-educated Moslem men who become infatuated with Islamic terrorism.
Dulmatin was thought to be hiding out in the Philippines. Two years ago, an informer led police to a shallow grave on Tawi-tawi island, and claimed the dead man was Dulmatin. But DNA from the body was tested, and proved that the body was not of Dulmatin. It was not surprising that he returned to Indonesia and headed for Aceh. But Dulmatin apparently misunderstood what was going on in Aceh. This bastion of Islamic conservatism has changed.
Several years of Islamic terrorism in Indonesia, after 2001, were followed by a backlash that has still not abated. Islamic conservatives refused to accept that most Indonesians are very moderate, and eclectic, Moslems. Despite years of effort, only one (of 33) provinces (Aceh) has adopted Sharia (Islamic) law. One result of this was teams of men acting as lifestyle police, and looking for couples displaying affection, or women who are not covered up. Sharia is more of a hassle for women than men, and was instituted, in theory, mainly to deal with corruption. But the usual suspects were able to bribe the Sharia judges as easily as their predecessors. So the only victims are people caught kissing in public, or women wearing tight jeans, and no scarf on their heads. This has further discredited Islamic conservatives, and those who advocate Islamic terrorism as a tool for positive change. Thus there were plenty of people in Aceh willing to turn in someone like Dulmatin.
Islamic radicals tried to get public enthusiasm for Sharia by claiming that Islamic law would deal with corruption and the spread of AIDs. But most voters were not impressed, and still see Islamic radicals as, for the most part, a source of Islamic terrorism. This kind of violence is very unpopular with most Indonesians, and that makes it very difficult for Islamic terrorists to recruit, much less operate, in the country. Those who have fled to Malaysia and the Philippines have found equally toxic conditions, which was why Dulmatin returned to Indonesia. He had assembled a team of 15-20 like minded Islamic radicals, but 14 of these are already dead or under arrest, and the rest are on the run, now fully aware that they are not particularly popular with most Indonesians.