Posts made in August, 2017

The Maluku Civil War: The Civil Emergency

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: The Civil Emergency

The first 111 Laskar Jihad volunteers left Surabaya’s Tanjung Perak Port on April 26, 2000. A dozen traveled to Ambon aboard a ship with West Java Siliwangi and East Java Brawijaya army troops. During the four-day journey, the militants and soldiers mixed freely. Representatives from Brigadier General Max Tamaela’s Maluku Pattimura Command welcomed the jihad volunteers as they debarked in Ambon. About 1,000 fighters had arrived by late-May, 3,000 by July – “ a strength that remained fairly constant. Considering the rotation by new fighters to replace those leaving, in total about 7,000 Laskar Jihad men made the journey to Maluku. [1] Press accounts suggested as many as 10,000 jihad volunteers arrived in Maluku between May and July 2000. That number appears high. The first wave of Laskar Jihad fighters was consistent with the estimate that 3,000 volunteers received military training near Bogor. Arrivals from other groups were smaller, in the hundreds at most. Smaller militias included the 200-man Laskar Mujahidin (established by the Indonesian Islamic Proselytizing Council, DDII), Laskar Jundullah (part of Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia) and Komando Jihad (affiliated with Darul Islam). Some confusion may have been caused by the large numbers of local recruits, especially in North Maluku. Even after violence escalated, security forces did not stop the jihadists from landing in Ambon. The exasperated (seemingly helpless) Pattimura Commander Max Tamaela complained, “It is giving me a migraine. Why didn’t the officials in Tanjung Perak Port [Surabaya] stop them … and what happened to the other military commanders? We are overburdened with problems here. Why doesn’t anybody understand? Why were they allowed to enter?” [2] He decreed the Muslim volunteers would have to leave within a month, but security forces quickly lost track of the militants. Like Brawijaya Commander Major General Sudi Silalahi and East Java Police Chief Da’i Bachtiar in Surabaya, Max Tamaela was certainly following verbal orders from military leaders in Jakarta. [3] Christians blamed him for allowing unopposed entry by the jihad groups. An Ambonese Protestant officer called him “a black man with a black heart.” Maluku Governor Latuconsina lamented, “As a Muslim and a chief of the administration, I am really disappointed with and concerned about the way they entered Maluku, despite an order from the President to deny them entry. They should have been banned from embarking for this province.” [4] President Wahid charged Latuconsina was supporting the jihad groups, while explaining he could not replace him due to a lack of political support. [5]  Like the militias in East Timor, Laskar Jihad threatened a “scorched earth” campaign if security forces attempted to expel them from Maluku. At first, local Muslims welcomed the fighters, thanks to intercession by politicians like Hamzah Haz, Amien Rais, Ahmad Sumargono, Eggi Sudjana and DDII Chairman Husein Umar. Laskar Jihad established a headquarters near Ambon’s al-Fatah Mosque, close to the DDII, Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) and Muhammadiyah offices. The group set up a barracks and training ground at the State College for Islamic Studies, and started a radio station, Voice of the Struggle of Maluku Muslims. A typical broadcast: “When our national flag is trampled, our hearts...

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