Indonesia: Terrorists Seek More Acceptable Image


June 30, 2007: The capture of the senior leaders of Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has destroyed that organization, for the moment. What's still out there are fringe radical groups, and dozens of clerics who still preach jihad against infidels (non-Moslems). Police have most of these clerics under surveillance, trying to find any Islamic radical followers who might be moving towards terrorism. The police and courts have been quick to arrest, prosecute and jail all those involved in terrorist activities, no matter how minor the role. While the sentences are often lenient, the message is clear. Do the crime, you do some time. The biggest problem Islamic terrorists have had in Indonesia is the opposition from most Moslems there. Islam morphed a bit in Indonesia, as it did in most nations (especially those very distant from Arabia, where Islam was born). Indonesian Islam was never all that hard core, and retained many aspects of pre-Islamic religions. This enrages conservative Moslems, whether they be Indonesian, or from abroad. But attempts to get Indonesians to adopt foreign versions of Islam only appeals to some of the urban hipsters. Many of them are now sitting in jail, or under police surveillance, for getting involved in terrorist activities. Islamic conservatives have changed their tactics, and are trying to get counter-terror laws repealed and certain police organizations disbanded. While doing that, Islamic conservatives condemn Islamic terrorist attacks in Indonesia "misguided" unless they hit a target like a Western embassy. The Islamic conservatism line is that terror attacks on non-military targets is wrong (not just morally, but tactically). The Indonesian terrorists are trying to reorganize as a more disciplined organization, that hits only targets guaranteed to increase their popularity with the average Indonesian. That will be difficult, as the average Indonesian wants the Islamic radicals to shut up and go away.

June 20, 2007: Peacekeepers in East Timor have halted the four month search for rebel army officer Major Alfredo Reinado. With elections coming up, it was considered more important to prevent violence between politically oriented gangs, than to chase a small group of fugitives.

June 17, 2007: In East Timor, youth gangs still rule the streets. There are not enough local for foreign police to keep these kids from doing whatever they want. The gangs only attract police attention when there is a large scale fight. The unemployment rate is over 50 percent and about a quarter of the population would starve to death were it not for free food from foreign aid organizations. East Timor's economic and political prospects are bleak. But the UN is determined to make it work, as the UN has signed on to allow more "micro-states" (like Kosovo) to emerge. More nations means more UN members, which is a good thing for the UN bureaucracy.




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