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Expert warns of new Indon terror links
Karlis Salna, AAP South-East Asia Correspondent
February 15, 2011
An analyst with the International Crisis Group has warned of new alliances being forged between so-called “non-violent” Islamic groups and terrorist organisations in Indonesia.
Sidney Jones, an expert on the now dismantled Jemaah Islamiah (JI), warned of increasing alliances between what she described as “moralist thugs, the people that have been engaged in terrorist violence and the non-violent radicals who also preach intolerance towards people of other religions”.
“One of the dangers is that we’ve begun in the last two or three years to see more alliances among at least those three groups,” Ms Jones told AAP.
Advertisement: Story continues below “And what we’ve seen is that there’s certain issues, and the Ahmadiyah issue is one … that can bring those three strands together.”
Her warning follows two frenzied attacks in the past 10 days, including one in which three members of the Ahmadiyah Muslim sect were clubbed and stabbed to death in a village in West Java.
Just days later, violence erupted in Temanggung in Central Java where 1000 people rioted, burning churches and demanding a Christian man sentenced to five years in jail for insulting Islam be executed.
“I think anti-Ahmadiyah sentiment has been building here unchecked for the last five or six years for a variety of reasons,” Ms Jones said.
Ms Jones said there was “no question” that the Indonesian government had the will to combat terrorism.
She said the latest charges against Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir showed a political will to address terrorism.
Bashir, the JI co-founder, is being tried on terrorism-related charges for the third time following the discovery of a new terrorist cell in Aceh province last year.
He appeared in the South Jakarta District Court on Monday, where prosecutors read out a 93-page indictment detailing the seven charges against him, the most serious of which carries the death penalty.
“The interesting thing if you read through that indictment is that they cite Bashir for provocation, criminal incitement in a way that they’re not willing to speak of when dealing with very similar speeches inciting people to commit violence against Ahmadiyah and some Christian churches,” Ms Jones said.
“What they need to do is take the very clear political will to address terrorism and extend it to addressing some other forms of incitement that lead directly to violence.”
Bashir claims the charges have been fabricated and that the Aceh camp was established to defend Islam.
It is the third attempt by authorities to convict Bashir, who spent 26 weeks in jail for conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings, but was later acquitted.
Ms Jones said the latest case, however, was the strongest yet.
“I think that they shouldn’t have any problem this time around in convicting him on the basis of the evidence they’ve got,” she told AAP.
“They’ve got multiple sources and multiple types of evidence that clearly show that he was the major fundraiser for the camp in Aceh that involved the purchase of illegal guns and the protection of fugitives like Dulmatin.”
Dulmatin, killed in a police raid in March last year, was the explosives expert who helped assemble the bombs used in the 2002 attacks in Bali which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Bashir will face court again on February 24.