Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Indonesia’s Homegrown Radicals

Once again the Taliban displayed their evil will for all to see
when they marched to Buner, attacked a Pakistani paramilitary
post and kidnapped its officers in a blatant violation of their
peace deal with the government.
Their actions revealed the extent to which Pakistan has lost
control over their own creation-turned-nemesis. Around the time
of the Afghan war, the Pakistani government had, through its
intelligence agency, helped create and support the Taliban to
serve its own interests. Yet despite its support, the government
today is an enemy to the Taliban for ideological reasons.
Indonesia needs to learn from what is happening in Pakistan. It
would be dangerous for a number of reasons if the Indonesian
government failed to take firm action against radical and
extremist groups that act outside of the law and in ways that
challenge government authority.
Extremists are freely sharing information through jihadi forums
like Arrahmah, At Tawhed and At Taubah, including by exchanging
manuals on making bombs and other weaponry. These forums provide
a place for potential homegrown terrorists and self-starters to
enhance their skills — skills which may well be used against
national interests in the future. Many extremists also
participate in illegal military training in the mountains on the
weekends. Never mind that they substitute sticks for weapons;
the activity itself is of concern.
Indonesian radical groups have moved into what the late Israeli
expert, Ehud Sprinzak, called the second phase of terrorism: the
conflict of legitimacy. They have become more militant and more
willing to resort to violent means as they begin to feel that
their purely nonviolent, civil politics have failed to achieve
the results they desire.
Although their activities remain largely peaceful and lawful,
they have begun to flirt with small acts of violence. In doing
so, they undermine the credibility of the government.
The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) attack against the National
Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion during a rally to
commemorate Pancasila on June 1, 2008, showcased to the world
the failure of the Indonesian government to protect religious
freedom and uphold citizens’ human rights. Though many
kidnapping and murder plans do not see the light of day, they
indicate a similar desire and intent to become more violent.
Radical groups in Indonesia have much contempt and disrespect
for national law, as they view it as non-Islamic. As a result,
they can justify any violations. Unfortunately, Indonesian
police have often turn a blind eye when radicals commit crimes
such as destroying Ahmadiyah mosques or physically abusing
Ahmadiyah members.
Government ignorance and inaction has confirmed the idea that
radicals are above the law or too powerful to police. It also
reinforces the radicals’ illusion that God is helping their
cause and that it is only a matter of time before they will
someday overthrow the government.
Radical groups have given the government nothing but trouble.
Some politicians, especially those from Islamic political
parties such as the United Development Party (PPP), the Crescent
Star Party (PBB) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), might
think that in order to further secure their positions it is
important to support radical groups. However, they should be
aware that radicals themselves see politicians as infidels, and
never actually support them, finding them useful only for
financial security.
Groups like the FPI and the Indonesian Mujahideen Council might
agree to work with the government today because they can garner
influence that provides them with a certain level of protection.
But when they feel they have the necessary members, skills and
equipment, they will not hesitate to sever their ties with the
government in order to implement Shariah law.
This is something that will never change. No matter how limited
the actions or training of radical groups may be from to lack of
funding or pressure from security agencies, their ideology will
remain steadfast. They will always, despite what they may say or
do in public, consider the Republic of Indonesia as the Infidel
Republic of Indonesia and will never have any sincere
relationship with the government.
Today, the situation in Indonesia is still far from that in
Pakistan. However, unless the government bans and withdraws all
support for radical groups, it risks losing control over both
them and the sovereignty of the nation.
Muh Taufiqurrohman
The Jakarta Globe
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

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