Indonesia: Terrorists Turn To Books


March 6,2008: In East Timor, the remaining rebels have either surrendered, or are negotiating terms for surrender. The February 11 attack on the president and prime minister failed to kill either man, and left the rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado, dead. While this rebel group appears to be broken, the high unemployment and regional (east/west, mainly) antagonisms remain, as do several criminal gangs with political aspirations.

In Papua, local separatist leaders were released from jail after being arrested for demonstrating for independence several days ago. The separatists are not well organized, and the government apparently feels it's better to just let them demonstrate.

March 2, 2008: In Aceh, violence related to the corruption and the distribution of reconstruction aid, led to several hundred people rioting and attacking a group of former rebels (who won elections and are now in charge). Five of the former rebels were killed before police arrived to stop the riot.

March 1, 2008: Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Islamic radical group behind over a dozen terror attacks, and hundreds of deaths over the last six years, still exists. While over 500 JI members have been killed or arrested and prosecuted, the organization has sworn off terrorism and split into factions. The most prominent one calls for a non-violent approach to Islamic conservatism. The government tolerates this faction, while continuing to pursue smaller factions that still back terrorism. What upsets many foreign counter-terror experts is the JI publishing program, which is translating (into Indonesian) and publishing many al Qaeda documents. JI says it is doing this to demonstrate how wrong-headed the al Qaeda approach is.

February 27, 2008: JI leader Selamat bin Kastari escaped from jail in Singapore. This was very embarrassing for Singapore, which has a history of efficiency, especially in security matters. Indonesia fears that Kastari will head their way and rally local Islamic radicals for another round of terrorist attacks.

February 25, 2008: The UN has extended its East Timor peacekeeping until February, 2009. At the moment, it seems like this peacekeeping operation will continue several more years at least.


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