Indonesia: Terrorists Flee, Tourists Return


January7, 2007: Government security forces managed to keep Islamic terrorists, and Islamic radicals in general, under control in 2006. There were no major terrorist attacks, and the sectarian violence was kept down as well. While Islamic conservatism has some appeal to many, if not most, Indonesians (mainly as a counter to the corruption so rampant in the government), extending that to Islamic radicalism and terrorist operations, does not have wide support. In fact, most Indonesians are quite hostile to Islamic terrorism, and have been willing to turn in terrorists. This has made life difficult for Islamic terrorists, and most have fled the country. Those that remain, must move very carefully, lest they be detected and caught. On the downside, this strategy includes a lot of leniency towards confessed terrorists, and short prison terms. It's still unclear if many of the Islamic radicals, who have served their time, will go back to the dark side.

January 6, 2007: Another senior member of Jemaah Islamiah was killed in the Philippines, by counter-terror operations. Most of the senior leadership of Jemaah Islamiah is believed to have fled the country, many of them taking refuge in Moslem areas of the Philippines. But the Islamic terrorists in the Philippines, mainly Abu Sayyaf, are not all that powerful, just hard to find. Jemaah Islamiah operatives have been teaching Filipino Islamic radicals how to make bombs, and this has led to some more attacks, but not a lot of casualties.

January 3, 2007: During the first eleven months of 2006, 3.59 million foreign tourists arrived, a decline of 4.6 percent from the previous year. An Islamic terrorist attack in October, 2005, led to many foreign tourists canceling their trips. Australians, in particular, stayed away in large numbers. But, as with past terrorist attacks, the tourists eventually return (incentives, like large price cuts, help). Thus while the overall decline in 2005 is five percent, arrivals late in the year are actually up. For Indonesia, tourism is a major part of the economy, generating billions of dollars of business each year, and over a million jobs.

January 1, 2007: In Papua, police are going after Christian clergy, accusing them of providing support for separatist rebels. Most Papuans are Christian, or practice traditional religions. The clergy are a target mainly because the churches are centers of social activity, and most Papuans would like more autonomy, and less interference from Malay officials from other parts of Indonesians (Papuans are Melanesians, a different ethnic group than the Malays who dominate in Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia.)


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