Indonesia: Islamic Terrorists Down But Not Gone


May 21, 2013: In the last week police have continued to make terrorist arrests, apparently based on information obtained during a series of raids on the 9 th. A decade of intense anti-terrorist activity has failed to destroy Islamic terrorists, in part because the government does not want to offend the many Islamic conservatives out there.

Separatist unrest continues in Papua, a large area that is thinly populated by over 300 Melanesian tribes. It is the poorest part of Indonesia, with some thirty percent of the population being extremely poor. The Papuans, who were ruled as a Dutch colony for centuries, were granted independence by the Dutch in 1961, but a year later Indonesia invaded and no one went to the aid of the Papuans. The UN called for a referendum to determine what the Papuans wanted, but Indonesia never allowed that to happen. The UN has continued to protest and pressure Indonesia but nothing has changed, except for growing separatist violence. The government has responded by arresting and prosecuting anyone who openly demonstrates support for separatism. This has provided the incentive for more Papuans to join the non-violent and violent separatist groups.

Most Indonesians do not want Papua (the western half of New Guinea, the fourth largest island in the world) to be independent. In addition to a lot of valuable natural resources, there's a lot of unused land that can be occupied by Moslem migrants from crowded parts of the country. But that causes friction because the native Papuans are Melanesian, who look quite different from the majority Malays. Moreover, the Melanesians tend to be Christian while the Malays are almost all Moslems. The Malays are better educated and run the government and police. The Malays are also very corrupt and have done little to improve the lives of native Papuans over the last half century. There are a lot of Melanesians outside of Papua, and they are increasingly subject to violence by Malay Islamic radicals.

May 16, 2013: Russia delivered two more Su-27 jet fighters. The air force now has six Su-27s and eight more advanced Su-30MK2s. None of these aircraft have their weapons yet, which are on the way.  

May 9, 2013: Counter-terror forces, led by Detachment 88, conducted five raids in central Indonesia, which led to 17 suspects being arrested and seven killed when they resisted. The Islamic terrorists in question were believed to be planning an attack on the Burmese embassy (in response to anti-Moslem acticity in largely Buddhist Burma). This Islamic terrorist group also made themselves targets by conducting a series of armed robberies to support their operations. This included at least one bank robbery.  These raids took place in central Indonesia and the capital and were believed to be connected with Islamic terror groups active on the nearby island of Sulawesi. For two decades this island has been the scene of growing Islamic radicalism and terrorism. That’s because over half the population on the island of Sulawesi is non-Moslem (mostly Christian). In the late 1990s, Islamic militants came along, preaching violence against infidels (non-Moslems). Over a thousand people have died so far, but extra police and soldiers have eliminated most of the violence. Hundreds of Islamic radicals are still on the island and nearby West Java and are still preaching violence. Police activity in Sulawesi kept increasing because it was believed more members of terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) were coming to Sulawesi to hide out.

Christians are a minority nationwide, while 87 percent of the population is Moslem. The tensions in Sulawesi are not entirely religious. The Christian areas used to be almost entirely Christian, but over the last three decades the government has encouraged (with laws, money, and land) Moslems from overpopulated areas to move to less populated Christian areas. This has created friction.

Counter-terrorism efforts appeared to have wiped out the JI presence on Sulawesi but new Islamic radical groups formed. Over the last five years the police have been working their way down an increasingly threadbare list of terrorist suspects. Moreover, it's been years since JI has been able to launch a major attack. This is because counter-terrorism forces have created a good intelligence network. Thus the threat to Burmese embassy was quickly detected. In the last few years, attacks against non-Moslems have resulted in a stronger and stronger backlash from the police and Christians. Five years ago the vigilantes switched tactics and began concentrating on driving Christians into ghettos and reducing the number of Moslems converting to Christianity. Anti-infidel (non-Moslem) violence is a growing problem, as Islamic radicals seek an outlet for their aggression that won't land them in prison. All this Islamic radical activity keeps producing new recruits for Islamic terror groups. With little support from mosques or the larger Islamic organizations, these new Islamic terrorists have to resort to crime to fund their operations.

The recent raids may provide more information on the whereabouts of Santoso, an older JI operative who is believed to be the mastermind behind the new Islamic terrorist groups forming on Sulawesi and elsewhere in central Indonesia. In the last few years the police have been brutal against separatists in Papua but quite lax against Islamic radicals attacking Christians and Moslems who do not follow strict lifestyle rules. The government believes it is following the votes by tolerating the police brutality (which has been common in Indonesia for decades). Many Indonesians (Moslems and non-Moslems alike) believe this policy has allowed Islamic terrorist groups to keep recruiting and avoiding eradication.

May 5, 2013: Hundreds of Islamic radicals attacked an Ahmadiyah community in central Indonesia (West Java) and caused a lot of property damage before police responded to the 1:00 AM attack. For the last decade Islamic radicals have been pushing the government to drop the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and legalize persecution of any religion considered an “insult to Islam.” This has led to local laws being passed to ban the Islamic Ahmadiyah sect, which has 200,000 members in Indonesia and has seen at least four of its mosques shut down in the last month. The sect has been active in Indonesia for about 80 years and is one of dozens of varieties of Islam practiced here. But the other sects are just adaptations of pre-Islamic religious practices to Islam. These also offend Islamic conservatives but are more difficult to get banned.

Islamic radicals demand that the government declare Ahmadiyah illegal. Ahmadiyah was founded in Pakistan over a century ago and is banned there. At first the government banned Ahmadiyah but had to reconsider because of the constitutional issues and the fears about reactions from the 13 percent of Indonesians who are not Moslem and the majority of Indonesian Moslems who practice versions of Islam that would not pass muster with Islamic conservatives. The government was heavily criticized at home and abroad for the Ahmadiyah banning, especially with the recent attacks on Ahmadiyah mosques. The Islamic radicals are using the Ahmadiyah issue as a rallying point.

May 3, 2013: Thousands of Islamic radicals marched on the Burmese embassy shouting “death to Buddhists.”

May 1, 2013: As the government celebrated fifty years of Indonesian rule over Papua, local separatists held their own protests all over Papua. Police killed one protestor and arrested fifteen more. Police are believed to have killed more people in remote villages and kept foreign reporters from getting details. Last year one separatist was killed and 13 arrested on May 1st.

April 30, 2013: In Papua police responded violently to separatist demonstrations and in one case killed two separatists and arrested six others.

April 28, 2013: A prisoner serving 19 years for beheading Christian school girls eight years ago escaped from prison. The convict was on leave to visit his sick wife and was only escorted by one prison guard. The gruesome murder of the three Christian teenagers caused a national outrage and an intensified effort against JI.

February 21, 2013: Unknown armed men killed eight soldiers in two attacks in Papua. An army helicopter sent to recover the bodies was fired on and had to back off.




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