“Expect more Islamist terror in Indonesia”
By Bramantyo Prijosusilo in Ngawi, East Java, Indonesia.
Indonesia is not only failing to protect minorities from the violence of militant Islamism, its government is actively supporting intimidation against the tiny Ahmadiyah sect.
Early this month the government bowed to demands from hardliner Islamist groups like the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), who urge their followers to kill Ahmadiyah believers, and issued a joint ministerial decree, warning the Ahmadiyah faithful to stop activities or face prosecution. The Ahmadiyah has been systematically demonized since 1980, when the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) declared them heretical and deviant.
The politics of demonizing is part of the movement for the establishment of Sharia Law. For some organizations like the trans-national Hizbut Tahrir (HT), Sharia Law in Indonesia is a stepping-stone towards the establishment of a global Caliphate.
Sharia Law propagandists believe that the Islamist parties will set the stage for Sharia Law by playing the democracy game, “To later let the HT take over, like marines take a beach for the infantry”, writes Didi Turmudzi, a lecturer of philosophy and HT sympathizer in Bandung.
The struggle for the enforcement of Sharia Law unite organizations like the Islam’s Ummah Forum (FUI), the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Indonesian Council of Mujahidin (MMI), the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) , and the Qur’an Exegesis Council (MTA) to name a few of the more popular Islamist organisations that operate openly here.
More sinisterly, the utopia of Sharia Law also bonds these groups in a brotherly union with more shadowy groups like the terrorist organizations Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al Qaeda.
People are often members of several Islamist organizations at the same time. Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the alleged spiritual leader of the shadowy JI, is the head of the open MMI. Muhammad Al Khathath, Secretary of FUI, is also a member of the Central Leadership Council of HTI and a figure in the MUI.
The avowed enemies of the Indonesian Islamist groups are America, the UK, and their allies. Their ideological foes are democracy, socialism, secularism, pluralism, and liberalism. They describe the lifestyles they are waging a jihad against as consumerism, free sex and homosexuality, the consumption of drugs and alcohol, satanic music, pornography, and the threat of Norwegian nudism.
The traditionalist Muslims and the Liberal Muslims are the only Islamic groups openly against the establishment of Sharia Law in Indonesia. However, the lack of militancy amongst the traditionalist Muslims means the hardliner Islamists are always outflanking them. The Liberal Islam Network’s (JIL) dependence on American funds severely discredits its efforts.
JIL is widely perceived as a Zionist project designed to destroy Islam from within. JIL’s spiritual leader the young scholar Ulil Abshar Abdalla has a death fatwa on his head.
Habib Rizieq Shihab, the head of the thuggish FPI currently in police custody, has a queue of visitors showing him support, including a cabinet minister, politicians, parliamentarians, celebrities, and fellow Islamist scholars.
The most wanted South East Asian terrorist at large, the Malaysian, Noordin Muhammad Top has eluded arrest for years and is probably hiding in Java.
Several cabinet ministers openly support events organised by HT. These facts demonstrate the level of sympathy and support the Islamists enjoy. Political Islamism has supporters in every level of society. Under autonomy laws, some regions have introduced and enforced misogynist Sharia based regional regulations.
The fact that the government has effectively sided with the Islamists and banned the Ahmadiyah even though that is contrary to the country’s Constitution exposes just how far upstairs the extreme ideas of anti-democratic Islamism have reached.
Islamists have glossy magazines that glorify suicide bombings and Al Qaeda while offering a range of books and graphic videos for sale. The MMI publish their magazine Risalah Mujahidin in which Osama Bin Laden writes a jihad advisory column. Books written by people such Bin Laden and Imam Samudra who masterminded the 2002 attacks on Bali, and also by less famous characters, such as a wife of a convicted terrorist on death row, are best sellers that are sold out within days of being published.
Lately hardliner Islamism has influenced the usually moderate organisations like NU and Muhammadiyah. Leaders from both organizations have uncharacteristically voiced bigoted opinions concerning Ahmadiyah.
In May and early June, daring robberies netted well over 100 kilograms of gold from four jewellers in the cities of Solo, Surabaya, and Semarang. The organisation and the sheer brutality of the robberies are reminiscent of the 2002 jeweller robberies by the Bali bombers, staged to finance their terror operations. The Indonesian police apparently have a similar hunch for the anti-terror Special Detachment 88 is investigating.
It is obvious that terrorism, be it the open vigilantism of the FPI or the clandestine bombings of the JI, is part of the struggle to enforce Sharia Law.
As both types of terrorists (the vigilante thugs and the clandestine bombers) seem to be gaining strength and momentum, Indonesia must brace itself for more attacks in the near future. If terrorist groups committed the gold robberies, it means that they are preparing to launch their biggest attack yet.