The Army, Radical Islam and the Global War on Terror

Posted by on Nov 28, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Army, Radical Islam  and the Global War on Terror

Soeharto had ruthlessly suppressed political Islam, but during the New Order’s final years attempted to offset his waning popularity by mobilizing Muslim extremist groups. With blessings from his father-in-law, Major General Prabowo Subianto and his regimist allies sought to inflame anti-Zionist, anti-Chinese, anti-western and anti-Christian sentiments in cooperation with hard-line groups like Husein Umar’s Indonesian Islamic Proselytizing Council (DDII), Ahmad Sumargono’s Indonesian Committee in Solidarity with the Muslim World (Kisdi) and Eggi Sudjana’s Indonesian Muslim Workers Association (PPMI). It was a destructive strategy. Soeharto’s backing encouraged those radicals to become more aggressive. Despite generous regime patronage for B.J. Habibie’s Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia, ICMI) throughout the 1990s, modernist Muslim leaders turned against Soeharto and played a central role in forcing his resignation. The sudden lifting of Soeharto’s restraining hand gave the radicals freedom to act in a variety of ways detrimental to the secular state. Militant groups and new Islamic parties like the Crescent and Star Party (PBB) called for an Islamic State, marking the return of political Islam with a vengeance after decades of suppression. The chaotic, lawless period after Soeharto’s fall allowed groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, FPI), Laskar Jihad and the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, to recruit and thrive. The phenomenon caught many by surprise since Indonesia – the world’s largest nation of Muslims – was considered peaceful and tolerant, its Islamic majority flavored with elements of Hinduism, Buddhism and Javanese mysticism. Almost exclusively Sunni, most Indonesian Muslims were from the marginal abangan variant, broadly tolerant and law-abiding. The large and growing modernist, or santri community was also considered moderate. Those championing radical Islam were and continue to be a small minority. The modernist Muslim socialization process during the 1990s brought army leaders closer to a spectrum of Islamic institutions. Courting those groups was part of a new strategy. With Soeharto’s tacit blessings, senior officers – including regimists like Feisal Tanjung, Hartono and Prabowo, and secular-nationalists like Wiranto – cultivated conservative Muslims to accrue political power. Throughout the New Order, military and civilian elites had mobilized criminals (preman) and militant groups, regardless of ideology, to maintain their political and economic interests. Past collaboration with civilian militias irrespective of creed or legitimacy – and the steady “greening” among the senior ranks over the previous decade – had prepared military leaders for such partnerships of convenience with radical Islam. The Army had come full circle since Lieutenant General Ali Moertopo’s malicious manipulation of political Islam during the 1970s and General Benny Moerdani’s brutal security approach toward conservative Muslims during the 1980s. In the post-Soeharto period, the patronage provided by President Habibie, Armed Forces Commander General Wiranto and others inside and out of the government gave hard-line Muslims renewed energy and self-confidence. Groups like the FPI and Laskar Jihad became vehicles for political mobilization, participating in quasi-official projects like Wiranto’s Pam Swakarsa volunteer security force. After religious violence erupted in Maluku during early-1999, those militants did not hesitate to organize a jihad campaign to avenge their Muslim brethren on Indonesia’s remote eastern islands – and received support in those efforts from politicians...

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Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Born in Pacitan, East Java in September 1949, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono celebrated his fifty-fifth birthday a few weeks before his inauguration as Indonesia’s sixth President in October 2004. He was the only child of an army noncommissioned officer in the Brawijaya territorial organization, Raden Soekotjo, and maternal grandson to the founder of the local Tremas Pesantren (a Nahdlatul Ulama boarding school). Known as “Sus” or Bambang to friends, he was cadet corps commander and top graduate from his 1973 Military Academy class. Yudhoyono was engaged to and later married Military Academy Governor Major General Sarwo Edhie Wibowo’s well-educated and charming daughter, Kristiani Herawati (Ani). Fatefully thrown into the national spotlight during the 1965-1966 crisis, as Army Commando Regiment (RPKAD) Commander Sarwo Edhie had led the massacre of communists on Java and Bali, laying a bloody foundation for Soeharto’s New Order. Marriage into the legendary (some would say notorious) general’s family reinforced the young officer’s Javanese sense of destiny. Yudhoyono reportedly wanted to follow his father-in-law into the red berets. Since no officers from the 1973 class were commissioned into the Special Forces, he opted for the green berets and served exclusively in Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad) units until posted to Army Headquarters in 1981. Recognized as bright and capable, his early career suffered, ironically, due to his status as Sarwo Edhie’s son-in-law. Soeharto insiders Ali Moertopo, Yoga Sugomo and Benny Moerdani held a grudge against the popular and charismatic red beret. As Armed Forces Commander, Moerdani allegedly had Yudhoyono sidelined to unimportant positions. Sarwo Edhie died in November 1989. With patronage from Generals Edi Sudrajat and Feisal Tanjung, Yudhoyono’s career took off after Benny Moerdani departed the scene in the early-1990s. The two red beret generals were sympathetic to Sarwo Edhie’s plight and recognized his son-in-law had been treated unfairly. After graduating from the Army Staff and Command School (Seskoad) in 1989, once more at the top of his class, Yudhoyono was selected to attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He worked as a speech writer for Army Chief Edi Sudrajat and briefly as his staff coordinator when Sudrajat became Armed Forces Commander in February 1993. Sudrajat intervened to select Yudhoyono as commander of the Jakarta-based Kostrad 17th Infantry Brigade, the Army’s most prestigious brigade-level unit, succeeding presidential son-in-law Prabowo Subianto. Yudhoyono advanced rapidly through a series of key postings. He was operations assistant in the Jakarta Command in 1994-1995 and spent a few months as Yogyakarta Resort Commander, where he established contacts with academics, student activists, journalists and civil society groups. Yudhoyono earned his first star during 1994 during a one-year posting as Chief Military Observer with UN Forces in Bosnia. He was chief of staff in the Jakarta Command during the July 1996 assault on the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters, South Sumatra Sriwijaya Regional Commander from August 1996 to August 1997, Armed Forces Assistant for Social and Political Affairs from August 1997 to March 1998, and then Chief of Staff for Social and Political Affairs (Kasospol) – later re-designated Chief of Staff for Territorial Affairs (Kaster) – from March 1998 to November 1999,...

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Kontras Chairman Munir’s Murder

Posted by on Sep 2, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Kontras Chairman Munir’s Murder

Just thirty-eight years old when he died, Munir Said Thalib (photo inset) had founded the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and was executive director for the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial). He died aboard Garuda Airlines Flight 974 from Singapore to Amsterdam on September 7, 2004. Munir was headed to the Netherlands to study law on a one-year scholarship sponsored by the Dutch Inter-Religious Organization for Development Cooperation. He became violently ill, stricken with vomiting and diarrhea. A doctor among the passengers gave him a sedative but Munir died before the flight landed in Europe. An autopsy in the Netherlands found he had been poisoned with a lethal dose of arsenic. Munir was a prominent critic and persistent thorn in the military’s side. He and his Kontras associates were advocates for the victims of military abuses in Aceh, East Timor and Papua. He had called for then-Army Chief General Endriartono Sutarto to be placed on trial after the July 1999 Bantaqiah massacre in Aceh. He was outspoken in charging military involvement in the Christmas Eve 2000 bombing spree. In response to a TNI proposal to establish a new antiterrorism agency after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., Munir alleged military leaders were trying to resurrect the Soeharto-era Operational Command to Restore Security and Order (Kopkamtib) security apparatus. He questioned why military members were tried before closed military tribunals for civil offenses rather than more objective civilian courts. Munir was involved in revising two draft bills before Parliament – an intelligence law submitted by the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) that would have allowed the agency to detain suspects without involvement by the police or courts and a defense law that would allow the TNI to take military action during an emergency without first notifying the President or Parliament. A bomb planted at Munir’s family home in Malang, East Java failed to explode, while the Kontras office in Jakarta had been attacked on three occasions between 2000 and 2003. In March 2002, two days after Kontras organized a protest at General Wiranto’s residence, the thugs-for-hire Betawi Brotherhood Forum (Forum Betawi Rempug, FBR), led by local jawara (strongman) Fadloli el-Muhir, attacked Kontras offices, hospitalizing seventeen persons. The assailants demanded Kontras halt its investigation into the disappearance of political activists during Soeharto’s final days. Two weeks before Kontras attack, apparently on Governor Sutiyoso’s orders, the FBR had assaulted flood victims picketing in front of City Hall. During the months before the 2004 general elections, the FBR joined former Jakarta Police Chief Noegroho Djajoesman’s Save Indonesia Alliance, a coalition of thuggish groups backing General Wiranto. [1] Munir had been an advocate for International Crisis Group Country Director Sidney Jones, deported in June 2004 on orders from BIN Chief Lieutenant General Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono based on her reporting about Jemaah Islamiyah and domestic extremist groups. Earlier, she had dug into the February 1989 Lampung massacre when troops under then Colonel Hendropriyono gunned down dozens of Muslim fundamentalists. In February 2002, on the massacre’s thirteenth anniversary, Munir had called on the government to remove Hendropriyono from BIN. Kontras was...

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Jemaah Islamiyah: Damaged but Dangerous

Posted by on Jul 16, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Jemaah Islamiyah: Damaged but Dangerous

By mid-2003, eight months after the Bali attacks, Jemaah Islamiyah had fallen to about a hundred hard-core militants, most based in Central and East Java. The group shelved plans for a Southeast Asian caliphate, returning to the more traditional Darul Islam aim to create an Islamic State. Ties to al-Qaeda were scaled back, if not severed. The new Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Abu Dujana (Ainul Bahri), had trained in the Pakistan and Afghanistan camps and was an instructor at Camp Abu Bakar in Mindanao before it was shut down in May 2000. Faced with the wave of arrests, he cautiously regrouped elements on Java, abandoned plans to attack western targets and turned to recruiting for the anti-Christian jihad in Central Sulawesi. The intensive crackdowns in Indonesia and neighboring countries convinced Abu Dujana and most Jemaah Islamiyah leaders that large, spectacular attacks like Bali were costly and counterproductive because they generated public outrage and harsh retaliation. Rather than attract new followers, such attacks undermined support for an Islamic super-state. Essentially, Jemaah Islamiyah became a domestic group encompassing the old Mantiqi II (Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi). Survivors in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines remained in hiding, while an estimated two dozen militants, including Bali bomb-maker Dulmatin and Umar Patek, had taken refuge with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao. [1] Around twenty radical pesantren, mostly on Java, served as incubators for militant recruits and platforms to spread jihadist gospel. The Hidayatullah Pesantren near Balikpapan, East Kalimantan and Pondok Pesantren Darul Aman in Makassar, South Sulawesi were part of the radical pesantren network. Jemaah Islamiyah had a small presence in Central Sulawesi before the Bali attack. Violence increased sharply in late-2003 after hundreds of fresh volunteers arrived with high-powered firearms and bomb-making skills. The group established a training camp near Ampana, a coastal settlement northeast of Poso, and set about to undermine the Malino accord through bomb attacks and assassinations targeting Christian leaders, local officials and the police, along with armed robberies of non-believers (fa’i) to raise funds. Darul Islam had legitimized fa’i by promising absolution to perpetrators since their criminal actions were for jihad. Jemaah Islamiyah adopted fa’i despite its questionable basis in the Qur’an. [2] In early-2003, a splinter group led by Noordin Mohammad Top and his assistant, Dr. Azhari Husin, both Malaysian nationals, broke with Abu Dujana. Both men had been hiding in Sumatra. Top and Azhari had studied at the Malaysia University of Technology; both were students at Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s Lukmanul Hakiem pesantren in Johore before joining the terrorist group. Azhari had been a mechanical engineering professor at the university. After military training in Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, he became a bomb-making instructor at Camp Abu Bakar in Mindanao, while Noordin Top chaired the Lukmanul Hakiem pesantren before authorities shut down the radical Islamic school in early-2002. Noordin Top fled to Riau and settled in Bukittinggi, where he opened an automobile repair shop. Dr. Azhari and Jemaah Islamiyah comrades from Malaysia joined him. They relocated to Bengkulu, South Sumatra after the Bali bombings. Citing emergency conditions, Top and his small...

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Jemaah Islamiyah: The October 12, 2002 Bali Attacks and their Aftermath

Posted by on Jun 26, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Jemaah Islamiyah: The October 12, 2002 Bali Attacks and their Aftermath

Jemaah Islamiyah leaders regrouped in Bangkok with Hambali to discuss possible targets in Indonesia, including oil tankers at Dumai Port on the Riau coastline, the PT Arun natural gas facilities in Aceh operated by ExxonMobil, the Newmont gold mine in Sumbawa, and tourist nightspots in Bali. By August 2002, they settled on a bomb attack at Bali clubs frequented by western tourists and Balinese Hindus. The operation was similar to the August 2001 bombing attack on Philippines Ambassador Leonides Caday and employed many of the same people, including Mukhlas (Ali Gufron), Imam Samudra, Zulkarnaen, Amrozi, Dulmatin, Umar Patek, Azhari, Ali Imron, Mubarok and Idris. Mukhlas and Amrozi were brothers. Mukhlas provided oversight, while Imam Samudra was the hands-on supervisor. Al-Qaeda transferred funds to Hambali; Imam Samudra acquired additional money from the brazen daylight robbery of a jewelry shop in Banten, West Java. [1] The conspirators bought an old Mitsubishi minivan, filed off its identification numbers and assembled the massive bomb with more than a ton of potassium chlorate fertilizer, sulfur and aluminum powder for incendiary effect. They recruited and indoctrinated suicide bombers, Arnasan and Fer, uneducated Javanese villagers. In addition to the van bomb, Dulmatin assembled two smaller devices. One was a vest packed with sticks of dynamite weighing roughly five kilograms to be worn by Fer in a diversionary blast before Arnasan set off the vehicle bomb. The vest bomb was to be initiated by a manual trigger, but equipped with a backup timer. Another five-kilogram package of dynamite with a cell phone trigger was placed in front of the American Consulate in Denpasar as a symbolic gesture. [2] After casing nightspots at the Kuta Beach resort, the plotters chose their targets. The van bomb would be positioned on a side street outside the Sari Club. Sitting in the driver’s seat, Arnasan would trigger the van bomb after Fer’s diversionary suicide bombing inside Paddy’s Bar across the street. The operation was set for Saturday evening, October 12, at 11:00 p.m. The package bomb was placed at the U.S. Consulate and detonated just before 11:00 p.m. without casualties or serious damage. Arnasan steered the van into position. Fer dismounted and walked into the middle of the crowded Paddy’s Bar and detonated his vest at 11:07 p.m. Almost immediately after the Paddy’s blast, Arnasan set off the van bomb. The fertilizer bomb did not fully detonate, but burned intensely and set off a massive fire at the Sari Club and adjacent buildings. Not counting the bombers, the attack left 202 dead, including 152 foreigners (among them eighty-eight Australians, twenty-two British, seven Germans, five Swedish, four French, four Swiss and four Americans) and about 350 wounded. Fifty-eight buildings were damaged, nineteen cars and thirty-two motorcycles destroyed. [3] The Bali bombing was the largest and most deadly worldwide terror attack since the September 11 al-Qaeda attacks in the United States thirteen months earlier. Indonesian “experts” suggested the Kuta blast resulted from a “micro-nuclear device.” Senior officers reacted defensively to allegations the military was involved, suggesting the bombs were too complex to have involved military personnel. Former National Intelligence Coordinating Body (Bakin) Chief...

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