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troung
06 Dec 05,, 06:17
Muslim leaders in Indonesia denounce suicide bombings

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PM - Monday, 5 December , 2005 18:38:00
Reporter: Peter Cave
MARK COLVIN: Some of Indonesia's most radical Muslim leaders have denounced the use of suicide bombings, and said they have no place in Jihad, or holy war, in the country.

They were attending a weekend seminar on suicide bombings in the capital organised by the National Council of Clerics.

From Jakarta, Foreign Affairs Editor Peter Cave.

PETER CAVE: Speaking to reporters, the leader of the Indonesian Mujahedin Assembly, Abu Jibril, said the clerics had agreed that suicide bomb attacks could not be accepted as Jihad and that recent suicide bombings in Indonesia were out of context because they weren't carried out in defence of Islam.

He said that Indonesia was not a conflict zone, and that the suicide bombings had been used to attack targets rather than defensively.

Abu Jibril succeeded the founder of the Mujahedin Assembly, Abu Bakar Bashir, jailed for being involved in the conspiracy to carry out the 2002 bombings in Bali.

Another of those who attendant the seminar was Achmad Junaidi Ath Thayyibiy of the Islam Defenders Front, another hardline Islamic Group.

He said the suicide bombing were "haram", or forbidden under Islam. If the bombers targeted the US and its allies as enemies they should not make women and children and other innocent people their victims.

Their comments have been praised by the former head of Indonesia's National Intelligence Agency, BIN, at the time of the bombings.

Writing for the Jakarta Post, A M Hendropriyono said that enlisting the help of the countries most respected religious authorities was long overdue. And when the dust finally settles, it may emerge that the epitaph for Jemaah Islamiah may have begun with the November 18th declaration of Jihad against extremism by the National Council of Clerics.

Hendropriyono, who stepped down as head of BIN after the election of the Yudhoyono Government, was scathing in his criticism of his former colleagues in the security forces and the Government of Megawati Sukarnoputri, in which he served as a senior minister.

He says the Government's response to extremism after the first Bali bombings was half-hearted and, he says, he can vividly recall senior security officials repeatedly pulling their punches against the radicals.

Praising the new President for finally showing some backbone to confront the remnants of Jemaah Islamiah, Hendropriyono says enlisting the help of Muslim scholars is arguably the most important step.

He says this is because of the disturbing ability of terrorist recruiters like Noordin M Top and Imam Samudra, to corrupt Islamic teachings to recruit suicide bombers.

He said Indonesia's intelligence forces had discovered after the bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004 that JI had even altered the teachings of Middle Eastern groups, which promised suicide bombers 72 virgins in Paradise after their martyrdom.

To give their promises more resonance amongst Indonesian recruits they had changed that promise to say that martyrs could instead take 72 friends and relatives along with them to Paradise.

Hendropriyono said the Government needed a crucial counterbalance to the shrill intolerance of clerics like Abu Bakar Bashir, who could be released from prison next year.

And he foreshadowed the possibility of bringing Bashir up for trial for a third time upon his release. He said the Government should be exploring whether the cleric was responsible for the bombings of the Philippines Embassy and a series of Christmas Eve Bombings in 2000.

This is Peter Cave reporting from Jakarta for PM.

troung
06 Dec 05,, 06:18
U.S. closes Manila embassy after threat
Tue Dec 6, 2005 11:32 AM IST

By Manny Mogato

MANILA (Reuters) - The U.S. embassy temporarily shut its doors on Tuesday after a security threat, with Philippine police warning of potential suicide bombings by Jemaah Islamiah, a regional network of militants linked to al Qaeda.

The embassy did not specify the "plausible threat information" in a statement on its Web site -- http://manila.usembassy.gov.

Television channel ANC quoted a guard at the embassy as saying a mobile phone text message was received on Monday night from someone named "Evita" threatening to blow up the embassy.

The Philippine government, fighting homegrown Muslim and communist insurgencies as well as Jemaah Islamiah, is a staunch security ally to Washington.

But anti-American sentiment in the Philippines, a former U.S. colony, has risen in recent weeks with six visiting U.S. soldiers being investigated over allegations they raped a Philippines woman on Nov. 1 after joint military exercises.

"An attack on any U.S. embassy in the world is every Islamic militant's dream," said a Philippine intelligence official, adding that two leading foreign militants hiding on the southern island of Mindanao wanted Indonesians to carry out attacks.

Citing information shared by Jakarta, the police official said Dulmatin and Umar Patek had asked a contact in central Java, Abdullah Sunata, to send Indonesian recruits to Mindanao to launch suicide bombings in the Philippines.

Dulmatin and Umar Patek, the main suspects in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed nearly 200 people, are high on a U.S. terrorism blacklist. Washington has offered a reward of $10 million for the arrest of Dulmatin and $1 million for Umar Patek.

Sunata was arrested in June during a sweep by Indonesian police in Jakarta and on the island of Sulawesi.

FITTING THE BILL

Zachary Abuza, a U.S.-based terrorism expert, said there was an exchange of e-mails by Umar Patek and Sunata in April about sending "suicide bombers to be used in the Philippines".

"The five people that were arrested trying to enter or get into Mindanao in December 2004 and June 2005 fit the bill for this request," Abuza told Reuters, saying two Indonesians -- Ahmad and Abu Nida -- were able to slip in to the Philippines.

"It appears as if Jemaah Islamiah, the Abu Sayyaf group and some members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are preparing for an offensive."

Abu Sayyaf, the smallest of four Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines, is blamed for the worst terror attack in the mainly Roman Catholic country -- the bombing of a ferry near Manila in February 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim separatist group, is in peace talks with the government but rogue members are believed to be working with Jemmah Islamiah.

Police intelligence authorities said Jemaah Islamiah had been plotting to hit the U.S. embassy in Manila since 2000, when Riduan Isamuddin, alias Hambali, came to the Philippines to plan attacks on the American, Israeli and British missions.

Hambali and other foreign militants abandoned the plan due to tight security around the embassies but continued to search for ways to hit the three targets, police said.

Hambali, an expert bomb-maker, was arrested in Thailand in 2003 and is now in U.S. custody.

Last year, three Abu Sayyaf militants arrested in Manila told police they were sent to the capital to survey the U.S. embassy.

The U.S. embassy said it would resume visa and other public operations "when deemed appropriate".

Emergency assistance for U.S. citizens was still available.

(With reporting by Dolly Aglay)

troung
06 Dec 05,, 06:19
Indonesia clerics to fight militants in "war of ideas"
Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:20 AM GMT

By Dean Yates

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A move by Indonesia's mainstream Muslim groups to form a special team to fight militant ideas and work with police marks an important step but must involve more than just rhetoric, a leading terrorism expert said on Monday.

The team was set up late last week after the discovery of videos showing three suicide bombers using Islam to justify attacks on restaurants in Bali on October 1 that killed 20 people.

It is the first time moderate groups have agreed to play a decisive role in tackling terrorism. In the past, they have been reluctant to criticise militants or have said fighting terrorism was the responsibility of the government and the police.

Sidney Jones, director of the International Crisis Group in Indonesia and an expert on the country's radical fringe, praised Vice President Jusuf Kalla for summoning mainstream clerics to view the videos of the young suicide bombers last week.

"That's a real new step and we haven't had this level of government involvement before in any of the cases that have come up from Bali onwards," Jones said, referring to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people.

"It's taken this long for some of the (Muslim) organisations to realise the extent of the problem in Indonesia and to realise it's got a kind of staying power."

All major bomb attacks in Indonesia in recent years have been blamed on Jemaah Islamiah, a shadowy network seen as the regional arm of al Qaeda. It usually recruits young, poor Muslims from teeming Java island as its foot-soldiers.

Jones said it would be interesting to see how the team challenged militant arguments and whether it addressed issues of how and where bombers and others were recruited.

"I don't think we can say it's a seachange until we see whether it moves beyond the rhetoric," she said when asked about the significance of the team.

AGAINST THE RELIGION

Clerics have said the aim was to educate young Muslims and the poor to understand that the Islam used by militants was deviant and against the religion's basic teachings.

It gathers top preachers from the two mainstream Islamic groups in the world's most populous Muslim nation, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, that have a combined 70 million members.

The minister of religious affairs said the team would be involved in tracking information about terror suspects and search for books that promote radicalism so they could be banned, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Monday.

However, it was unclear if the team would review curriculum in Islamic boarding schools.

The International Crisis Group has listed several boarding schools where Jemaah Islamiah members send their children and where some convicted bombers studied.

The videos shown to the clerics were found earlier this month in a series of raids in which police killed Malaysian Azahari bin Husin, master bombmaker of Jemaah Islamiah.

Anti-terrorism campaigns in Indonesia have often faced challenges because of a widespread belief that the United States wants to attack Islam.

While Islamic groups across the spectrum condemn bombings, memories also remain fresh of the persecution of Muslim leaders and activists by former President Suharto during 32 years of military backed rule that ended in 1998.

Indeed, officials are still reluctant to use the term Jemaah Islamiah, which means Islamic community, believing it could be misinterpreted as putting the general Muslim populace under the microscope.

And Indonesia has not followed Western countries in banning Jemaah Islamiah. Officials say they cannot ban an organisation that does not have a concrete structure or address.

Indonesia is officially secular and recognises Christianity and several other religions in addition to Islam.

Ray
06 Dec 05,, 09:50
It is an encouraging move in the right direction.

However, this has been said elsewhere too, but there has been no cognisable results. Hence, the doubt.

The silver lining is that the majority of Indonesia is not that fundamentalist Islamic in psyche and hence there could be some poistive effect, at least in Indonesia.