Posts made in November, 2017

The Maluku Civil War: The Jihad Campaign in North Maluku

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: The Jihad Campaign in North Maluku

Since the Bloody Christmas massacre on Halmahera had triggered the jihad movement, it is not surprising that at least as many Muslim fighters (roughly 3,000) entered North Maluku compared to those in Ambon. The media barely noticed the militants passing into relatively more remote and inaccessible region. Despite a substantial navy presence on Ternate, security forces made no effort to stop jihad fighters and their weapons from entering the province. Laskar Jihad commanders in Ternate and Tidore, Abu Bakar Wahid al Banjari and Mohammed Albar, both from North Maluku, absorbed smaller jihad groups and staged a successful recruiting campaign at local mosques and in the refugee camps, where virtually every able-bodied adult male joined the jihad. They negotiated an alliance with Makianese Muslim leaders, who dominated the government in Ternate and Tidore. North Maluku jihad forces referred to themselves as mujahidin, often identifying themselves as Pasukan Jihad (Jihad Troops) instead of Laskar Jihad. With the legion of local recruits, the Jihad Troops grew to an estimated 20,000 men. Under pressure not to oppose the militants, Governor retired Army Brigadier General Abdul Muhjie Effendie dropped reconciliation efforts. Ternate Resort Commander Colonel Sutrisno openly sided with the Jihad Troops and even allowed wounded fighters to be treated at the military hospital. Many underpaid and poorly motivated troops on Halmahera accepted the Muslim militia’s offer of one million rupiah (more than $100) to join in the fight against Christians. The Jihad Troops mounted an effective campaign against Christian communities, starting with coordinated attacks in northern Halmahera during mid-June 2000 that killed over 200. About 35,000 Christians were evacuated by ships to camps in North Sulawesi, where they related horror stories about the brutal attacks on Christian villages, forced conversions and the unconcealed cooperation between army units and the jihad volunteers. [1] Dozens of organic Christian police and army troops, along with their families, ended up in the North Sulawesi camps, abandoned, receiving no pay and living just like displaced civilians. The North Sulawesi Minahasa Christian community was exceptionally generous in supporting the displaced Maluku Christians based on traditional ties between the two groups. Marines and sailors replaced Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad) units in North Maluku in June 2000. Marine Colonel Muhammad Alfan Baharudin (photo inset) replaced Colonel Sutrisno as North Maluku Sector Commander on September 10. Previously commander of the elite Navy Denjaka Special Forces Detachment (Detasemen Jala Mangkara, named after a mythical guardian of the sea, commonly known as the “Sea Ghosts”), the Batak Muslim Alfan was known as “a tough guy.” Unlike Sutrisno, he had no sympathy for the jihad militias. By late-2000, Muslim and Christian forces on Halmahera had reached a standoff, with military deployments blocking main routes between their respective strongholds. Most Laskar Jihad forces left North Maluku in early-2001 without a fight after Alfan threatened to shoot them down “like dogs.” The capitulation may be explained by the fact the group had already concluded its campaign and was starting to run out of money to support thousands of volunteers in the field. At any rate, the overall security situation improved dramatically. Many displaced Christians returned to rebuild...

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