Thursday, August 27, 2009

Indonesia: Noordin Top’s Support Base


Jakarta/Brussels. The 17 July 2009 Jakarta hotel bombings have produced calls for a strengthened security apparatus and harsher laws, but the more urgent priority is to understand the terrorists’ local support base and target government programs accordingly.

Indonesia: Noordin Top’s Support Base,* the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines the backgrounds of those arrested, killed or on the run in connection with the July attacks. It looks at how individuals close to Noordin Top, self-styled leader of al-Qaeda Indonesia, draw on their friends, family, co-workers and schoolmates to expand the local support network.

“Most Indonesians are outraged by terrorist attacks on civilians, but the ideology that legitimises those attacks is hard to eradicate”, says Sidney Jones, Crisis Group’s Senior Adviser to the Asia Program. “One individual with the right contacts can create a security cordon for Noordin that extends to several different towns and villages”.

The report looks at the information made public thus far about the men involved in the 17 July bombings and the possible role of Middle Eastern funding. In this operation, Noordin Top seems to have relied on an inner circle of long-term Jemaah Islamiyah associates, each of whom brought new people into the mix. One family in particular has emerged as pivotal, with four members deeply involved in the plot. By recruiting just one of them, Noordin got access to the others and to a wealth of skills and contacts.

The report also looks at some of the institutional foundations of Noordin’s support base, including JI schools, local mosques where jihadi preachers have managed to recruit local youth, and Islamic medicine clinics. The government has not come up with a plan for addressing the problems posed by the schools in particular, says Crisis Group, but the answer is not closing them down – it is rather providing much more intensive oversight than is currently taking place. Public information campaigns in vulnerable villages, greater information-sharing among security agencies, and improved pre- and post-release monitoring of “high risk” prisoners are needed as well.

Read the full report at:

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