2003 January 20 Monday
Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia

The Janes.com site has an article describing a recent report by the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs on the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group.

Of particular note are findings on the JI methods of recruitment and indoctrination. Potential candidates were first identified through religious study groups, where they would be introduced to discussion of Jihad and the world-wide plight of Muslim populations. Students demonstrating a particular interest in Jihadi theology were then engaged specifically over a period of around 18 months, and made to feel a sense of exclusivity by their recruiters.

Certain students were selected as JI members and gradually subjected to well- documented techniques of escalating commitment, the report states. They were first taught that anyone who left the group was an infidel, and that all Muslims who did not subscribe to Jihad were also infidels - a dogmatism designed to convince group members that even the killing of innocent Muslims was justified.

If you want to read the full report from the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs it is available as a zip of a PDF file entitled White Paper: The Jemaah Islamiyah Arrests And The Threat Of Terrorism. Unfortunately it is an image made of the actual published hardcopy document and so it is not possible to select text from it to post. Still, here are excerpts I typed in:

The relationship between the Al-Qaeda and the leaders of these indigenous South East Asian groups continued actively after the Soviet-Afghan War. Even while Taleban Afghanistan provided sanctuary for the Al-Qaeda to conduct terrorist training for members of such militant groups from all over the world, the Al-Qaeda leaders were already searching for new training bases elsewhere, including in South East Asia. They also secreted key operatives like Omar Al-Faruq into South East Asia. Several operatives acquired new identities indigenous to these countries. They acted as "sleepers" as well as advisers and resource persons who transferred funds and expert knowledge on terrorist tradecraft, including bomb-making, to the local groups linked to the Al-Qaeda. In addition, there are indications that some of the local leaders were co-opted into the Al-Qaeda organisation even as they continued to hold their positions in their indigenous organisations. Some analysts believe that the JI is the group which enjoys the closest relationship with the Al-Qaeda in the region.

In 1999, the JI regional leadership formed a secret caucus called the Rabitaul Mujahidin (Mujahidin Coalition) to bring together the key leaders of the various militant Islamic groups in the region. Representatives from the MILF, JI, various extremist groups active in Aceh and Sulawesi in Indonesia, as well as the Rohingyas (a predominately Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar), attended the Rabitaul Mujahidin's meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2000.

Through this brotherhood of Afghanistan/Al-Qaeda "alumni", Al-Qaeda enjoys secure, reliable, and easy access into South East Asia. For instance, the two Al-Qaeda operatives who eventually crashed a plane into the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 stayed with Malaysian JI member Yazid Sufaat when they visited Malaysia in January 2000. Yazid and another Malaysian JI member Faiz Bafana are also believed to have provided assistance to Zacarias Moussaoui (the French national of Moroccan descent, currently indicted in the US for his involvement in the September 2001 attacks) when Zacarias visited Malaysia in September and October 2000.

The Singaporeans see a long-term threat from Al Qaeda's allies even if Al Qaeda is dismantled.

Al-Qaeda's links with the regional brotherhood of militant Islamic groups have given it a strong foothood in South East Asia. The US-led military campaign in Afghanistan may have disrupted its bases there, but Al-Qaeda is still able to launch terrorist attacks by tapping the network of militant groups in the region.As investigations into JI revealed, some Singapore Muslims have already been drawn into this web of terrorism.

Even if the US succeeds in dismantling Al-Qaeda, radical Muslim groups in the region will continue to pursue Al-Qaeda's agenda of global jihad. Some of these groups were started well before Al-Qaeda, and have stubbornly persisted over the years. With their radical agenda and their enhanced skills acquired from Al-Qaeda, these groups, if left unchecked, will pose a grave threat to the security of South East Asia for a long time to come.

Those who think that the movement to create radical Islamic states really only got started with the revolution that toppled the Shah might be surprised by the historical origins of JI:

Historically, JI traces its roots to the Darul Islam (DI or 'House of Islam), an organisation which emerged in the 1940s and which fought together with the Indonesian revolutionary army against Dutch colonial rule. After Indonesia gained independence in 1949, DI continued its armed and violent struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government tried to suppress the group after independence but never completely succeeded. In 1985, several radical DI elements fled to Malaysia to avoid arrest by the Suharto government. They settled there, and later regrouped and renamed themselves Jemaah Islamiyah. They expanded the group's membership through recruitment in Singapore and Malaysia. After the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, several of these JI leaders returned to Indonesia.

JI members are fairly intelligent and not poor or ignorant. Though I wish the quantified what was meant by the terms used to describe their intelligence:

Independent teams of psychologists have interviewed the 31 detainees. All except two were assessed to have average or above average or above average intelligence. About one-third had intelligence above the population norm, including two with superior level intelligence. These men fully understood that they were not dabbling in childish play. Certain items among their possessions, including topographical maps with detailed markings (showing observation posts and "kill zones"), hunting knivs (for knife-throwing and jungle survival), forged immigration rubber stamps and documents for subterfuge, detection-avoidance and bomb-making, showed that they were deadl serious about their actions. Over a prolonged period, they had systematically conducted reconnaissance of key targets and had repeatedly and consciously accepted instructions from foreigners such as "Sammy".

These men were not ignorant, destitute or disenfranchised outcasts. All 31 had received secular education (although one later pursued and obtained a degree in Islamic studies at a university in Malaysia). Like many of their counterparts in militant Islamic organisations in the region, they held normal, respectable jobs.

Terrorist organisations need members. As is the case with other Islamic terrorist organisations the recruitment into terrorism employs Islamic worship services and classes to steer intellectual development toward Jihad and terrorism. Then the enthusiasts are gradually identified and recruited.

The first stage of JI recruitment involved religious classes organised for a general mass audience. The potential JI recruit was usually recommended quite innocuously to Singapore JI leader and spiritual advisor Ibrahim Maidin's classes by their friends, relatives, and colleagues. The majority of JI members were introduced to JI in this way and many continued studying not only because of the search for religious knowledge but also the sense of Muslim fraternity and companionship. The JI teachers would employ the tactic of inserting into lectures quotations from the Quran and Hadith, discussion on jihad and the plight of suffering Muslims worldwide.

The second stage of JI's recruitment involved identifying those who were captivated enough to find out more about the plight of Muslims in other regions suh as the Malukas, Bosnia, and Mindanao. Ibrahim Maidin identified potential members from those who were curious enough to remain after classes to enquire further. He engaged these students' interest and compassion further and finally invited those he deemed suitable to join JI. This recruitment process would usually take about 18 months. The few who were selected as members were further made to feel a strong sense of exclusivity and self-esteem.

The members were taught that anyone who left the group was an infidel. On the other hand, those who remained enjoyed a sense of exclusivity and commitment in being in the in-group of a clandestine organisation. Secrecy, including the secrecy over a true knowledge of jihad, helped create a sense of sharing and empowerment vis-a-vis outsiders. Esoteric JI language or "JI-speak" was used as part of the indoctrination process. Code names for instance resulted in a strong sense of "in-group" superiority especially since JI members were said to be closer to Allah as they believed in the "truth" (JI doctrine); even Muslims who did not subscribe to militant jihad were seen as infidels. This dogmatism convinced many JI members that in the course of jihad, innocent lives (Muslim or non-Muslim) could be sacrificed.

The members get a feeling of higher status and empowerment. They also get a sure route to heaven (bold emphasis below mine):

The psychologist concluded that many JI members turned to leaders like Ibrahim Maidin as they wanted a "no fuss" path to heaven. They wanted to be convinced that in JI they had found "true Islam" and free themselves from endless searching as they found it stressful to be criticial, evaluative and rational. They believed they could not go wrong, as the JI leaders had quoted from holy texts. The psychological profile of the JI members (e.g. high compliance, low assertiveness, low in the questioning of religious values, and high levels of guilt and loneliness) suggested that the group of JI members was psychologically predisposed to indoctrination and control by the JI leaders and needed a sense of belonging without close attachments. Some where altruistic and wanted to help the ummah. Others wanted to accumulate "points" for a place in heaven.

There's no shortage of people in the world who fit that psychological profile. This isn't a problem if the religion they believe doesn't have pretensions of being destined to rule the whole planet and doesn't see killing of non-believers as a doctrinally correct way to achieve global rule. Unfortunately there are too many Muslim clerics throughout the world who are willing to encourage those who are predisposed to be attracted to that message.

the Council on Foreign Relations has a useful site called terrorismanswers.com that provides good brief overviews of a variety of terrorist organisations including Jemaah Islamiyah.

What is Jemaah Islamiyah?

A militant Islamist group active in several Southeast Asian countries that’s seeking to establish a Muslim fundamentalist state in the region. Jemaah Islamiyah (“Islamic Group” in Indonesian) is alleged to have perpetrated attacks and crafted plots against U.S. and Western targets in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. In the fall of 2002, an alleged member of the group, Imam Samudra, confessed to organizing the October 2002 bombing that killed nearly 200 people at a Bali nightclub. Governments in Southeast Asia have taken a range of approaches to the group, from aggressive law enforcement to ambivalence. Following the Bali bombing, the United States—which suspects the group of having ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network—designated Jemaah Islamiyah a foreign terrorist organization.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 January 20 09:09 PM  Terrorists WMD

April Catherine Fernandez said at February 26, 2004 7:29 AM:

Our differences in religion should should not be the reason for us brothers and sisters of God be the reason for the war/ conflict between different nations with different religions. In case a certain country has its own religion and beliefs, we should respect them and their culture/ traditions. We should always rember the GOLDEN RULE:Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.
God Bless......

Kebo Ireng said at September 17, 2004 2:53 AM:

I am Indonesia Moslem, and have learned that there is no such Jihad ( Fight ) that kills innocent people like what happened in Indonesia e.g. ( Big ones ): Philipine Embassy - Jakarta - August 2000, Bali - October - 2002, JW Marriot Hotel - August 2003, In front of Australian Embassy 9 September 2004 ( with no Australian victim ). Many innocent Indonesian Moslem were killed by the coward local accomplice of Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden misleads innocent Moslem to understand Jihad in wrong way and this will be cursed by the God. It is also obvious that Osama is an Agent of Israel and the US to ruin Islam he is paid by Israel and The US. Islam image is at stake for death of Innocent people, Osama sacrifice Indonesian people, we are already miserable and he makes it even worse. We will revenge, his network in Indonesia ( Azahari and Noor din M top ) will be tortured by our people before turning them into police as Terrorist without arms and legs but still alive ( there is also prize of 6 Billion Rupiah for those giving information that enables the arrest of those 2 chicken hearted culprits ).
We are all angry with the Indonesian Terorist, some of Indonesia angry people will take revenge by killing the family of the terrorists ( now already in Jail ). The terrorist have to see their beloved wives and children also burnt and they have to feel how they feel to have lost their beloved ones in a horrible deaths. Osama bin Laden, Dr Azahari, Noor Din M Top, and their Indonesian recruits are actually Jewish who always try to undermine Islam.
Osama bin Laden .............we from miserable country Indonesia will revenge!!!!!.

Gilingwesi ( Nightmare from Java Island )

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