Indonesia: March 21, 2002


The radical Islamic organizations are, however, growing in numbers (thousands of active members) and some have openly proclaimed support for al Qaeda. This, plus the widespread unrest in Indonesia, makes it possible for al Qaeda to set up operations in Indonesia. But, technically, any such al Qaeda operations are illegal and the government is inclined to take action if the terrorist operation is identified. 

Several police detectives are going to the Philippines to interrogate three Indonesians held there on terrorism charges. One of the three suspects, Agus Dwikarna, is an official in the Indonesian Islamic militant group, Laskar Jundullah. This group advocates an Islamic government for Indonesia. The government is not too concerned about the various militant Islamic groups in the nation (some of them armed.) The reason is twofold. First, with all the ethnic and religious strife going on, the government does not want to start another fight. Perhaps more importantly, the government feels, with some justification, that most Indonesian Moslems are not in favor of  Islamic rule. The nations Moslems are basically divided in two quite different halves. The rural Moslems retain many pre-Islamic traditions and don't take their Islam as seriously as urban Indonesians. In the towns and cities, many Moslems have been influenced by foreign, and stricter, forms of Islam. Even in the cities, most Moslems practice a more relaxed form of Islam. Attempts by militants to shut down bars and discos often meet with violent resistance. Attempts by militants to hold religious demonstrations are often resisted or sparsely attended. Although Islamic militants say that Islamic law will reduce government corruption, most Indonesians are not so sure. Moslem clerics have been caught stealing public funds and the feeling is that clean government should be a civil, not a religious, matter.




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