Posts made in July, 2017

The Maluku Civil War: Laskar Jihad

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: Laskar Jihad

Laskar Jihad founder Ja’far Umar Thalib (inset photo) adhered to the fundamentalist Salafi Sunni Islamic variant, closely related to Wahhabism, including its uncompromising anti-western and anti-Zionist aspects. The Salafi movement emerged in Indonesia during the mid-1980s. Its followers adopted traditional garb and sought to segregate themselves from secular society. They shunned political involvement and strived to live a pure existence as exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad. Salafism and its related militant ideology rejects western culture, seen as corrupt and destructive to Islamic values. The 1990-1991 Gulf War and the arrival by American forces on Saudi soil stimulated the worldwide Salafi-Wahhabi movement, including in Indonesia. The Salafis and other hard-line groups were further radicalized after the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 and the American-led military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ja’far’s grandfather was a Yemeni trader who came to Indonesia and stayed to raise a family. His father was a laskar militia fighter in East Java during the Revolution, an activist in the fundamentalist al-Irsyad movement, and later a Masjumi and Muhammadiyah cadre. He provided basic military training and a strict Islamic upbringing to his children. In 1983, Ja’far entered the Saudi-funded Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Islam dan Arab, LIPIA) and led the al-Irsyad student movement, but dropped out after arguing with a teacher. With financial support from the Indonesian Islamic Proselytizing Council (Dewan Dakwah Islam Indonesia, DDII), he continued studies during 1986 at the Salafi Maududi Institute in Lahore, Pakistan, dropping out the following year to join the Mujahidin fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Ja’far maintained he met Osama bin Laden and professed extraordinary combat experiences. He claimed to have fought with two mujahidin groups during 1987-1988, including Gulbudin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i Islami, and boasted to have shot down five Soviet helicopters with a single surface-to-air missile. Those claims appear exaggerated, at best, or patently false since most Indonesian volunteers spent their time in border area training camps and never saw combat. [1] That said, exposure to jihad fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan was a formative experience for Ja’far, combining the exhilaration of battle with his innate religious fervor, and preparing him to lead his own jihadist group. Other Laskar Jihad leaders also spent time in the Middle East and claimed combat experience in Afghanistan. After returning to Central Java in 1989, Ja’far taught at the al-Irsyad pesantren in Salatiga for two years before leaving again to continue Salafi studies in Yemen under Syaikh Muqbil ibn Hadi al-Wadi’l di Dammaz. It was Syaikh Muqbil’s edict that Laskar Jihad had strayed from Salafism’s true path that prompted Ja’far to disband the group in October 2002. After returning to Central Java in 1993, he established the Ihya’us Sunnah Pesantren in Degolan village, sixteen kilometers north of Yogyakarta, with Saudi assistance, surprisingly on land endowed for religious purposes by Admiral Widodo Adisucipto, later the Armed Forces Commander. [2] Ja’far and fellow Salafists offered a four-year program for prospective clerics to study Islamic Law, Arabic language and Qur’anic interpretation. Top students went on to study in Yemen or at the Medina Islamic University...

Read More

The Maluku Civil War: The Jihad Movement

Posted by on Jul 5, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: The Jihad Movement

Radical Muslims embraced the theory that the U.S. and Israel had plotted to sabotage Indonesia’s economy, smear its reputation with rhetoric about human rights, destroy its Armed Forces, and engineer the secular-leftist reform movement that brought down Soeharto and destabilized the nation. They believed the West had covertly provoked separatism in East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya, and the religious conflict in Maluku. They claimed the international Christian community, in collaboration with the Republic of South Maluku (RMS), was plotting to expel Muslims from eastern Indonesia and create an independent Christian state. The conspiracists depicted Presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri, even B.J. Habibie, as puppets of the Zionists and Christians. Retired Army Brigadier General Rustam Kastor, an Ambonese Muslim who divided his time between Ambon and Yogyakarta, became an unofficial jihad spokesman and proponent for such theories. Before retiring in the early-1990s, Kastor had been Ambon Resort Commander and chief of staff for the Irian Jaya-Maluku Trikora Regional Command. Published in early-2000, his provocative book, Facta, Data dan Analisa, Konspirasi Politik RMS dan Kristen Menghancurkan Ummat Islam di-Ambon-Maluku (Facts, Data and Analysis of an RMS-Christian Conspiracy to Destroy Muslims in Ambon, Maluku), circulated among fundamentalist groups. Muslims were legitimately angered by the government’s inability to halt the bloodshed in Maluku. Stories and photographs of the carnage prompted thousands of young men to sign up with jihad groups promising to defend their Muslim brothers. The release of Rustam Kastor’s book coincided with reports about atrocities in North Maluku. He encouraged Muslims to join Laskar Jihad and other groups intent on conducting a holy war. Kastor was close to Laskar Jihad commander Ja’far Umar Thalib, and was featured on the group’s website. He had ties to Major General Kivlan Zen and other Islamist officers, while retired Ambonese Protestant officers, including former Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad) Commander Lieutenant General Leo Lopulisa, were said to be patrons for the Maluku Christian militias. [1] More than 10,000 militants gathered Friday, January 7, 2000 for a rally at Merdeka Square in Central Jakarta. Prominent Muslim politicians, including Speaker of Parliament and National Mandate Party (PAN) Chairman Amien Rais, United Development Party (PPP) Chairman Hamzah Haz, Indonesian Committee in Solidarity with the Muslim World (Kisdi) Chairman Ahmad Sumargono (later deputy speaker of Parliament) and Indonesian Muslim Workers Association (PPMI) Chair Eggi Sudjana, organized the rally to support Maluku Muslims. Speakers denounced President Wahid’s indifference to the slaughter. Several demanded he and Vice President Megawati end the conflict within a month or resign. Sumargono called on the military to court-martial Maluku Pattimura Regional Commander Brigadier General Max Tamaela (a Christian) for failing to halt anti-Muslim violence. The Merdeka Square rally marked the start for a national jihad movement. Anti-Christian riots erupted ten days later on Lombok. A week after the Merdeka Square rally, the thirty-eight-year old Laskar Jihad Commander Ja’far Umar Thalib held his own rally at the sports stadium in Yogyakarta, Central Java. He called for a holy war in Maluku as his followers chanted “Revolusi Jihad.” The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Indonesian Muslim Student Action Union (Kesatuan Aksi Mahasiswa Muslim Indonesia, Kammi), Indonesian Muslim...

Read More