Jemaah Islamiyah: Genesis of a Domestic Terrorist Group

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

Jemaah Islamiyah: Genesis of a Domestic Terrorist Group

Most Indonesian Muslim militant groups could trace their lineage, or at least had a connection to Kartosuwirjo’s original Darul Islam movement in West Java. Darul Islam has had broad influence due to its single-minded, populist agenda to create an Islamic State. Ali Moertopo’s intelligence men infiltrated and manipulated the militant group in the late-1960s and early-1970s. In spite of – perhaps because of – that manipulation, Darul Islam rose from the ashes of its presumed destruction and was reborn in new forms, always with the supreme goal to create an Islamic State. Conservative clerics Abdullah Achmad bin Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir had sworn allegiance to Darul Islam in 1976 while in Central Java, nine years before their self-proclaimed hijirah to Malaysia. Although inherently anti-western, the Darul Islam network had little interest in terror attacks against western targets.

Sungkar and Ba’asyir started their own radical movement in Central Java after the national trauma in 1965-1966. The two men were about thirty years old. They had belonged to the Indonesian Muslim Youth Movement (Gerakan Pemuda Islam Indonesia, GPII) and were intensely involved in proselytizing activities (dakwah). Funded through private donations, in 1967 they opened a non-profit radio station in Surakarta, Radio Dakwah Islamiyah Surakarta, broadcasting religious music and commentary on Islamic themes. By 1971, they had opened their own boarding school (pesantren), al-Mukmin (Arabic for “The Faithful”), on Surakarta’s southern outskirts, moving a year later to Ngruki, a village two kilometers east of the city. Their boarding school administered a syllabus of strict discipline and radical indoctrination, including lessons in Arabic and English.

Sungkar and Ba’asyir were among an estimated five million Indonesians of Arabic, primarily Yemeni ancestry. Arab seafaring traders and missionaries began arriving in the archipelago during the fourteenth-century, spreading their religion and culture along with their wares. The largest concentrations are in Central and East Java, and in South Sulawesi. Just as some were involved with the Communist Party and leftist groups during the Sukarno era, today Indonesians with Arab blood lead many of the militant organizations that blossomed after Soeharto’s fall from power. With Middle Eastern funding, Indonesian pesantren send hundreds of youth to study Islam in Yemen each year and invite Yemeni clerics to teach in Indonesia, perpetuating the links between Yemen and domestic militants. [1]

Closely aligned with the outlawed Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood, Sungkar and Ba’asyir’s religious philosophy called for a return to pure Islamic teachings and harshly criticized the moral laxity inherent in western secularism. [2] Founded in 1928 amid a backlash to colonialism, the Islamic Brotherhood was a clandestine organization that sought to establish an Egyptian Islamic State. Members provided social services to the Muslim community while engaging in assassinations and bombing attacks against opponents. The organization and its militant philosophy spread throughout the Islamic world. Today the Brotherhood functions as a legitimate political party in many countries, including Egypt. It is closely identified with Iran’s revolutionary Islamic government, providing financial and moral support to regional militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

The two clerics were outspokenly critical toward Soeharto and his New Order government. In a typical anti-government tirade, Ba’asyir declared, “We Indonesians live as if we were riding in an air-conditioned bus. It’s all cool and comfortable but we are actually heading towards Hell. And the driver is…Suharto.” [3] The government closed their radio station in 1975 based on its political content and anti-government themes. Sungkar and Ba’asyir maintained ties to Darul Islam through Komando Jihad Deputy Ismail Pranoto (alias Hispran). After their radio station was closed, they began aggressively recruiting for their own Central Java Darul Islam chapter and in 1976 pledged loyalty to the movement. Sungkar was appointed the Central Java Darul Islam Commander. Together with Pranoto, the clerics idealistically planned to establish a new Jemaah Islamiyah (Islamic Community) in which followers would live strictly in accordance with the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s collected teachings).

In 1977, the government carried out a crack-down against Komando Jihad, arresting Ismail Pranoto and others. Abdullah Sungkar was detained for urging people to boycott the elections. He was released after six weeks. Police again detained both he and Ba’asyir in November 1978 on subversion charges, more specifically undermining Pancasila Democracy, spreading hatred and attempting to overthrow the government. The clerics were held for four years awaiting trial, hardening their resentment toward the regime and enhancing their standing as martyrs for the militant Muslim cause. From Bangkok in March 1981, the Woyla passenger plane hijackers included Sungkar and Ba’asyir among those prisoners they demanded the government release. Authorities did not shut down the Ngruki pesantren. The school continued to operate under supervision from their loyal followers.

Prosecutors tended to treat Darul Islam, Komando Jihad and other militant groups as identical entities with the same long-term goal, using violence to overthrow the government and create an Islamic State. Ismail Pranoto was tried in 1978, sentenced to life in prison; he died in 1995 while interned at Jakarta’s Cipanang Prison. During their 1982 trials (photo inset), Sungkar and Ba’asyir admitted plans to establish Jemaah Islamiyah but cleverly maintained it was a religious front to oppose the spread of communist atheism. They were convicted for subversion and sentenced to nine years, reduced on appeal to time served. Both were released in late-1982. Unrepentant, they intensified recruitment efforts and networked with other fundamentalist groups. [4]

The 1979 Iranian Revolution, followed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the same year, inspired idealistic young Muslims, rejuvenated and further radicalized the militant movement – and gave conservative Muslims fresh hope that Indonesia might also become an Islamic State. Indeed, there were similarities between Soeharto’s Indonesia and Iran under the Shah, where the only place dissidents could find sanctuary was in the mosques. Along with other Muslim figures, Sungkar and Ba’asyir vehemently objected to Soeharto’s insistence in 1982 that all organizations and groups accept Pancasila as their sole ideological basis; they considered the law an affront to Islam. They protested against family planning and other programs that conflicted with their concept of pure Islamic practice. They attracted a following among university students through the network of campus mosques and created a cell structure – characterized as usroh (study groups) – mostly in Central Java, similar to the Egyptian Brotherhood’s underground organization. The study groups provided cover to plan robberies and terror attacks.

Authorities arrested forty usroh members in 1983 on subversion charges while military intelligence kept the Ngruki pesantren under tight surveillance. Authorities suspected Ngruki was linked to the January 21, 1985 bombing at Borobodur Temple, apparently to protest the September 1984 Tanjung Priok massacre. Expecting to be re-arrested, Sungkar and Ba’asyir fled to Malaysia with pesantren staff. After a brief respite at Ngruki alumnus Anwar Warsidi’s pesantren in Lampung District, South Sumatra, they escaped to Malaysia. Comparing their flight to the Prophet Mohammad’s exile, the clerics referred to it as their hijirah. Later, in February 1989, soldiers under then-Lampung Resort Commander Colonel A.M. Hendropriyono staged a two-day assault against Warsidi’s Muslim community, killing several dozen and destroying the settlement.

The government arrested many of Sungkar and Ba’asyir’s followers; several received hefty prison sentences; others followed them to Malaysia. The two men spent fifteen years in Malaysia, then a more receptive place for Muslim activists than Soeharto’s Indonesia. They made several moves before settling in Sungai Manggis, a village in Negeri Sembilan State, about two hours drive south from Kuala Lumpur on the west coast, an area with a large Indonesian migrant population. From their new home, Sungkar and Ba’asyir maintained communications with the Ngruki community and continued their outreach and recruitment programs. They supported themselves as itinerant preachers (ustad) and propagators of the faith (pendakwah). They made plans to visit Saudi Arabia to seek support for their utopian ideal of a righteous Islamic community.

Embittered by their persecution under the Soeharto regime, the two men became more radical in their religious philosophy and were influenced by contact with another Indonesian exile, Abdul Wahid Kadungga, the late South Sulawesi Darul Islam Commander Kahar Muzakkar’s son-in-law. Kadungga had just returned from the Pakistan frontier, where the Soviet-Afghan War was in its sixth year. He had been in contact with Osama bin Laden and Arab volunteers – progenitors for the global al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Kadungga advocated the al-Qaeda ideal of an anti-western, pan-Islamic movement, in general, and a transnational Southeast Asian Islamic State, in particular, one that would encompass Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Thailand and the Philippines. Creating an international caliphate was also a favorite theme for Hizbut Tahrir, a Jordan-based militant organization with a large and growing following in Indonesia.

Kadungga had spent most of the 1970s in the Netherlands, where he established ties to radical groups, including the Egyptian Brotherhood. He returned to Indonesia in the late-1970s and worked for the Indonesian Islamic Proselytizing Council (DDII), but returned to the Netherlands in the early-1980s after attracting government attention through his opposition to the marriage law. He took Dutch citizenship and during the Soviet-Afghan War traveled between Europe, Pakistan and Malaysia, working to support the Afghan mujahidin. With Kadungga’s encouragement, Sungkar and Ba’asyir started recruiting Indonesian and Malaysian militants to join mujahidin forces fighting against the Soviets. It was seen as an honorable holy war (jihad) and a valuable training ground in guerilla tactics.

Sungkar and Ba’asyir dispatched the first dozen volunteers to Pakistan in late-1985; most were Ngruki graduates. Along with volunteers from Arab and European countries, Thailand, and the Philippines Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Indonesians underwent military training at Camp Sadda, located near the Afghanistan border in the Kurram Agency, Pakistan Tribal Areas. A coalition of Arab jihadists, Maktab al-Khidmat (MAK), also known as the Afghan Bureau, funded and operated Camp Sadda. Osama bin Laden belonged to the MAK group and built upon it to establish his own al-Qaeda organization after Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan. Sungkar and Ba’asyir sent a second group with thirty volunteers to Camp Sadda in early-1986, again mostly Ngruki alumni. A third thirty-man group left for Pakistan before year-end, including Ridwan Nurjaman bin Isamuddin (alias Hambali), later a top Jemaah Islamiyah commander.

In late-1987, Ajengan Masduki was elected the Darul Islam Amir (commander or ruler). He was one of Kartosuwirjo’s original Darul Islam fighters and a Komando Jihad militant arrested in 1982 and imprisoned for two years. Masduki appointed Abdullah Sungkar as Darul Islam Foreign Minister and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir as Justice Minister. The three went to Pakistan and Afghanistan in early-1988 to visit Camp Sadda. They met Osama bin Laden and militants who later became top al-Qaeda leaders. After Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in February 1989, Pakistan evicted the foreign militants. Most moved across the border. Al-Qaeda set up six new camps in Afghanistan, where the group continued to train foreign volunteers, including Indonesians sent by Sungkar and Ba’asyir. [5]

Most, if not all, Indonesian volunteers spent their entire time in Pakistan and never participated in actual combat, despite exorbitant boasts some later made. Indonesian intelligence estimated nearly 200 Indonesians received military and terrorist training at Camp Sadda and the al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan between 1985 and 1994. Al-Qaeda kept the Asian volunteers segregated from Arabs and the few westerners; the Indonesians developed links with fellow Asian jihadists, especially those from the MILF, through their shared experiences. Over half the Indonesian trainees returned home, put their youthful adventure behind them and took up normal lives, while a substantial minority joined the domestic jihadist movement.

Following the Ngruki model, Sungkar and Ba’asyir opened the Pesantren Lukmanul Hakiem in Johore state, Malaysia in 1992. They split with Darul Islam over ideological differences and competition to control the militant movement, establishing Jemaah Islamiyah in 1993. They relied heavily on veterans from the Pakistan and Afghan training camps, and Ngruki graduates. Since Indonesian and Malaysian intelligence had infiltrated larger militant groups, Jemaah Islamiyah adopted a lengthy and cautious vetting process, with emphasis on proper Islamic education. Starting in 1994, Hambali set up an al-Qaeda front organization in Malaysia, a palm oil export business used as a cover to transfer Arab money for Jemaah Islamiyah training and operations.

While Osama bin Laden ended up in Sudan, Al-Qaeda recruited among veterans of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan to support its pan-Islamic agenda. The organization offered finances and training to the MILF and Abu Sayaf in the Philippines, the Malaysian Mujuhidin Group (Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia, KMM) and to Sungkar and Ba’asyir’s Jemaah Islamiyah. Those groups expanded rapidly after Osama bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in 1996. By then, most Jemaah Islamiyah volunteers were taking part in military training at the MILF-run Camp Abu Bakar in the remote Mindanao jungles of southern Philippines. Al-Qaeda provided instructors. Alongside Arab and regional jihadists, Jemaah Islamiyah recruits underwent training on firearms, military assault and bomb-making techniques.

In 1995, Abdullah Sungkar declared himself the Jemaah Islamiyah Amir. He divided the organization into two regions (mantiqi) – Mantiqi I (Malaysia and Singapore) under Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Mantiqi II (Indonesia) under Abu Fatih (alias Ibu Thoyib) – with a stated goal to establish a transnational Southeast Asian Islamic State. Pesantren Lukmanul Hakiem was Mantiqi I headquarters. Besides Sungkar, Ba’asyir and Abu Fatih, Zulkarnaen, Abu Rusdan and Ali Gufron (alias Mukhlas) – all Camp Sadda veterans – took leadership roles. By 1997, the group had carved out another, mostly notional Mantiqi III, comprising eastern Indonesia, Sabah in Malaysian North Borneo and Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Sungkar returned to Afghanistan in 1997 and met bin Laden to discuss cooperation between Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda. After he promoted Ba’asyir to deputy Amir in late-1997, Hambali took over as the Mantiqi I Commander. [6]

The New Order’s collapse provided an opening for al-Qaeda to establish contact with groups like Laskar Jihad and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). Both rejected al-Qaeda advances due to differences in ideology and interests. Relations between Ja’far Umar Thalib’s Laskar Jihad and Jemaah Islamiyah – and by extension al-Qaeda – were antagonistic. Ja’far claimed he had turned down offers of money and support from al-Qaeda, while admitting his group accepted donations from charities in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in amounts no greater that 200 million rupiah (about $27,000), with no strings attached. Indeed, most groups affiliated with Darul Islam rejected al-Qaeda overtures although they accepted money from Middle Eastern charities. Their agenda was domestic, they desired to remain independent, and they disagreed with al-Qaeda’s indiscriminate terror tactics.

Islamic terrorism escalated on a global level with the al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 and the suicide attack on the USS Cole near Aden, Yemen in October 2000. Those incidents – along with the Soeharto regime’s collapse – provided inspiration to the jihad movement. Despite its ambitious plans and military-style organization, Jemaah Islamiyah was essentially a fringe group. Hambali went to Afghanistan to broker a training agreement with al-Qaeda and in 1999 advanced plans for a joint- Jemaah Islamiyah-al-Qaeda attack on service members at the U.S. Navy Logistics Base at the Sembawang wharf in Singapore. Lacking a funding commitment from al-Qaeda, the plans were shelved. Similarly, Jemaah Islamiyah abandoned plans to attack the American Embassy in Bangkok because it proved a difficult target.

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir returned to Indonesia in April 1999 under an amnesty program for religious dissidents. Abdullah Sungkar developed heart problems and decided it was time to return to his homeland. He died in Bogor on October 23, weeks after returning. Ba’asyir became the new Amir. The sixty-one-year old cleric tended to be bookish and cranky; he lacked Sungkar’s charisma and speaking skills. Nonetheless, Jemaah Islamiyah began an aggressive recruitment campaign and eagerly sought support for a regional Islamic state from other Southeast Asian groups, with little success. The organization was small compared to other jihad groups, with no more than 500 members at peak strength. After the religious conflict in Ambon started in early-1999, Jemaah Islamiyah collected $18,000 at mosques to support the Maluku jihad, but its participation in the conflict was limited.

Between 1997 and 2002, al-Qaeda provided Jemaah Islamiyah with over 1.35 billion rupiah (roughly US $170,000 although exchange rates fluctuated dramatically during that period), including 700 million rupiah during 2000. [7] Aside from Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda’s primary conduit in Indonesia was the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, MMI), established in August 2000. Abu Bakar Ba’asyir headed both organizations. Another domestic group, Laskar Jundullah (Army of God) under Agus Dwikarna, affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah and the MMI, also accepted al-Qaeda assistance. A civil engineer from South Sulawesi, Dwikarna was a Camp Sadda veteran who served as South Sulawesi DDII chapter head. In August 1998, he established Kompak (Komite Aksi Penanggulangan Akibat Krisis, literally “Crisis Management Committee”) in Makassar as the DDII’s independent arm for administering humanitarian assistance. In addition to charitable works, Kompak financed jihad groups in Maluku and Central Sulawesi, and became a conduit for al-Qaeda donations to those causes.

The first jihadists started arriving in Central Sulawesi in July 2000, a month after reports that an estimated 200 Muslims had been slaughtered in Poso. In August, Agus Dwikarna established Laskar Jundullah in South Sulawesi. By December, Dwikarna had sent 2,000 militants to Poso, mostly recruited in South Sulawesi, armed with machetes and clubs; violence escalated dramatically. Focused more on its international goals, Jemaah Islamiyah leaders chose not to become extensively involved in the Maluku and Central Sulawesi conflicts, although they were associated with Abu Jibril (Mohammed Iqbal Rahman) and his Surakarta-based Laskar Mujihidin who fought in Maluku, and with Agus Dwikarna and his South Sulawesi-based Laskar Jundullah in the Poso conflict. Laskar Jundullah was the largest Islamic combatant in Central Sulawesi, while Laskar Jihad (active in the Maluku conflict) and Jemaah Islamiyah sent small contingents to the region. [8]

Pakistani expatriate Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and Kuwaiti Omar al-Farouq were the primary al-Qaeda links to Jemaah Islamiyah. Both were associated with Hambali. Al-Farouq had married the daughter of former Darul Islam militant Haris Fadillah (Abu Dzar), who joined jihad forces in Maluku and was killed there. Hambali returned to Afghanistan in early-2000 with Khalid to discuss a possible attack on the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. Like the American Embassy in Bangkok, the two men ultimately decided the target was too difficult due to heavy security and the chancery’s standoff from the road. Hambali developed plans for suicide bombings at nightclubs and bars at the Phuket beach resort in southern Thailand, but once again dropped those plans because he lacked local support.

After the Philippine Army shut down the MILF Abu Bakar training camp in late-May 2000, Jemaah Islamiyah leaders set forth to build their own training camp on remote Morotai Island in North Maluku. The site was abandoned before any training took place when the local army command discovered their activities. Working through al-Farouq (who fled Mindanao after Camp Abu Bakar’s closure), al-Qaeda established a small training camp on Ambon Island’s Hitu peninsula, rotating small numbers of Saudis, Yemenis, Egyptians and Pakistanis through the camp starting in 2000. Jemaah Islamiyah established several small training sites on neighboring Seram and Buru Islands, operating a twenty-foot speedboat for gunrunning operations.

Indonesia had been plagued by domestic terrorist incidents well before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Jemaah Islamiyah leader Imam Samudra planned the bomb attacks on several Medan churches during services on Sunday, May 28, 2000. After the first shrapnel-laced bomb went off, injuring twenty-three, authorities discovered and defused time-bombs at two more area churches. Samudra had hoped to spark a religious war in mixed religion North Sumatra, similar to the conflicts in Maluku and Central Sulawesi. Instead, he brought religious and community leaders together with joint warnings for residents to remain vigilant against provocation.

In retaliation for closing the Abu Bakar training camp in Mindanao, Hambali planned and executed the August 1, 2000 car bomb attack against Philippine Ambassador Leonides T. Caday in Jakarta. He assembled a Jemaah Islamiyah team that included Amrozi, Ali Imron, Dulmatin and Fathur Rahman al-Ghozi, the latter two explosives experts. Planning and preparation took about a month. The group purchased an old Suzuki van, partially filed off the serial numbers, and assembled the 250 kilogram bomb from potassium chlorate fertilizer, sulfur, aluminum powder, kerosene, detonating cord and blasting caps. Dulmatin rigged the car bomb for remote detonation using two walkie-talkies with about a one-half kilometer range.

The terrorists noted Caday followed the same routine, leaving the Embassy for lunch each day between 12:00 noon and 12:30 p.m. for the short drive to his Menteng residence on Jalan Imam Bonjol. The car had to wait for the gate to be opened before entering the residence. Team members parked the van on the street in front of Caday’s residence late morning, August 1, and waited for the Ambassador. The explosion killed three bystanders and injured twenty more on the crowded street. Caday survived with serious injuries, broken bones and lacerations.

Just days after the Jakarta car bomb attack, 1,500 fundamentalist Muslims gathered in Yogyakarta for a three-day congress to promote Islamic law. Opening on August 5, the fifty-first anniversary of Kartosuwirjo’s Islamic State proclamation, the congress attracted support from leading Muslim politicians. Those present established the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) as an alliance for jihadist groups led by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir as Amir and Agus Dwikarna as his secretary. Groups under the MMI umbrella included Dwikarna’s Laskar Jundullah, Ahmad Sumargono’s Indonesian Committee in Solidarity with the Muslim World (Kisdi), the Islamic University Students Association (HMI), the Islamic Student Movement (GPI), the Indonesian Muslim Student Action Association (Hammas), the Indonesian Muslim University Student Action Front (Kammi), the Surakarta Islamic Defenders Front (FPIS) and the Indonesian Muslim Family Union (IKMI).

Jemaah Islamiyah and the MMI groups – along with the KMM in Malaysia and MILF in the Philippines – shared the al-Qaeda vision for a global caliphate and considered the jihad in Maluku and Central Sulawesi as training grounds for an international Islamic revolution. Ja’far Umar Thalib’s Laskar Jihad and Muhammad Rizieq Syihab’s FPI refused to associate with the MMI, objecting to the organization’s al-Qaeda ideology. Laskar Jihad and the FPI were opportunistic domestic groups with weak ideological moorings and patronage relationships to the security forces. Despite their Islamic orientation, they behaved like criminal organizations and shared characteristics with non-Muslim mafia groups, like Pemuda Pancasila and Pemuda Panca Marga, which were openly aligned with the Soeharto family and military interests. MMI-affiliated groups reportedly received sophisticated weapons from Abu Sayaf and MILF in the southern Philippines, whereas Laskar Jihad obtained most of its weapons from the military. [9]

By mid-2000, the government was making progress toward reconciliation in Maluku and Central Sulawesi. Less than three weeks after the car bomb attack on the Philippine Ambassador, Imam Samudra and a Jemaah Islamiyah cell launched fresh attacks targeting Medan churches and clergymen, again largely ineffective. Hambali and Imam Samudra proceeded with plans for a more ambitious campaign to simultaneously bomb thirty-eight churches and related facilities in eleven Indonesian cities during Christmas Eve services. All the bombs were set to detonate between 8:00 and 10:30 p.m. Out of sixty-two bombs placed at thirty-two locations, only twenty-four exploded. The others were either duds or were discovered and neutralized. Nineteen died – six in Jakarta, seven in Riau, the remainder at other locations – and 120 were seriously injured. Four Jemaah Islamiyah bombers were killed in Bandung when one bomb went off prematurely. Another bomber died and a second was seriously injured in Ciamis, West Java when the bomb they were transporting by motorcycle detonated.

Jemaah Islamiyah did not claim credit for the Christmas Eve bombings or the earlier attacks in Medan. Despite the sloppy operation and evidence left behind, only later did the police and intelligence agencies piece together the connection to the group. Apparently Jemaah Islamiyah was not involved in the September 13, 2000 bombing at the Jakarta Stock Exchange in South Jakarta that left fifteen dead and forty-six injured. Tommy Soeharto was the primary suspect. The Christmas Eve bombing campaign was a disappointment to Jemaah Islamiyah leaders. Less than a week later, on Rizal Day, December 30, the group collaborated with MILF partners in the Philippines to stage several bombings that left twenty-two dead and several dozen injured.

Fearing arrest, Hambali fled to Pakistan in early-January, and then onward to Afghanistan, where he again met Osama bin Laden. Jemaah Islamiyah leaders considered additional church bombings, an assassination attempt on Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, attacks on American warships docked in Singapore, and on busses carrying students to the Singapore International School. For the first time, the group contemplated employing suicide bombers, something thought alien to Southeast Asian culture. Imam Samudra organized bombings at two Jakarta churches on July 22, 2001, injuring fifty-six persons but causing no deaths, followed by another bomb attack a week later, on August 1, at the Atrium Mall in the Senen business district, just one kilometer from Merdeka Square. The time-bomb went off prematurely and severely injured the Malaysian bomber, Taufik Abdul Halim, who lost a leg. Taufik revealed connections within the terrorist network that led to more arrests and conclusively linked the bombing attack on Philippine Ambassador Leonides Caday to Jemaah Islamiyah.


[1] Dini Djalal, “War-on-Terrorism Spotlight has Fallen on Indonesia,” The Far Eastern Economic Review, November 14, 2002.

[2] Many of the details in this section are taken from Ken Conboy, The Second Front: Inside Asia’s Most Dangerous Terrorist Network, (Jakarta: Equinox, 2006).

[3] Cited in “The Travails of Ngruki Two,” Tempo, November 4, 2002, p. 19.

[4] Conboy, The Second Front, pp. 28-30, and International Crisis Group, “Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Embassy Bombing” (Brussels: ICG, Asia Report No 92, February 22, 2005), pp. 9-13.

[5] Conboy, The Second Front, pp. 43-44, and 51, and International Crisis Group, “Recycling Militants in Indonesia,” p. 21.

[6] Conboy, The Second Front, pp. 66-67, and International Crisis Group, “Recycling Militants in Indonesia,” p. 22.

[7] Derwin Pereira, “Is there an al-Qaeda Connection in RI?” The Jakarta Post, January 21, 2002, p. 3.

[8] Agus Dwikarna’s Laskar Jundullah should not to be confused with another group by the same name in Surakarta. Malaysian police arrested Abu Jibril in January 2002.

[9] Noorhaidi Hasan, Laskar Jihad: Islam, Militancy, and the Quest for Identity in Post-New Order Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 2006), pp. 18-20. Abu Sayaf became mostly a criminal enterprise specializing in kidnap for ransom after the group’s commander, Abdurajak Janjalani, died in a shootout with Philippine police in December 1998.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *