SPECIAL REPORT December 5, 2001
Campaign of Terrorism in Indonesia
SOME ENCOURAGING NEWS FROM POSO/TENTENA, INDONESIA
In response to Christians responding to a call to prayer and advocacy, many elected officials have been contacted and there have been encouraging signs that, at least for now, the looming threat against the more than 63,000 Christians of the Tentena area has been averted. While the threat of a massive attack and great loss of life still remains, recent action on the part of the Indonesian government appears to have, at least for the moment, thwarted the plans of the jihad forces.
The president of International Christian Concern (ICC), Steven Snyder, returned from Tentena just 14 days ago after delivering aid and conducing a fact-finding mission. Following first hand reports and visually examining the damage caused by the Laskar Jihad terrorists, ICC has issued numerous alerts to the worldwide Christian community and government agencies. Steven Snyder reported that a ranking police officer had said that six foreigners, four from Pakistan and two from Afghanistan, had been detained after they were discovered to have been involved in the training of Indonesian Muslims for the movement known as the Laskar Jihad. All six were ordered released by the police leadership in Palu before the police in Tentena could interrogate them.
As of Wednesday, December 5, the following has developed:
- There has been an attack (an intended large-scale massacre) launched against the 63,000 plus Christians in the area of Tentena of the Poso region. However, the Laskar Jihad have caused destruction and loss of life since ICC’s team witnessed previous destruction prior to November 23.
- The Indonesian government has dispatched at least 2,600 military troops and another report indicated that the government will dispatch additional troops for a total of 4,000 in order to deal with the crisis in the Poso region. ICC was told that the military would remain in the region for at least 6 months. However, there is still concern about the involvement of the military also carrying out atrocities against the Christians, since the majority are Muslim and in several other incidents the military assisted the Jihad forces in their attacks against Christian communities. Nevertheless, the effort on the part of the government may indicate that more oversight will be provided, which may result in a reduction of such hostile involvement on the part of certain military units.
- The Indonesian government has dispatched several high-level Indonesian government ministers to the area who have met with religious and civic leaders in the Poso region and were to report back to President Megawati. The Indonesian government is considering declaring a state-of-civil-emergency in the Poso region, which would give the military total authority over the police, essentially installing martial law. Again, there are some positive aspects to this, but it depends upon the degree of fairness and justice demonstrated by the military leaders placed in charge. The Christian leadership is demanding that the military remove all Jihad forces from the region in order to assure long-term security for the Christian community. Only then can daily life return to normal.
THE CHRISTIANS ARE NOT OUT OF DANGER YET!
A “BLOODY CHRISTMAS” STILL REMAINS A REAL THREAT as promised by Jihad leaders before the Muslim holy period of Ramadan ends on December 15.
Also, there are about 30,000 refugees living in Tentena who fled after the Jihad attacked and destroyed their villages. Following the visit to Tentena by Steven Snyder, he reported that there is an enormous need for medical services and shelter for thousands of the refugees. “The hospital and public services are unable to cope with the needs of the growing number of refugees who have fled to Tentena, the last Christian town where help can be obtained. There is also a need for fuel for transportation, cooking, etc. due to a blockade by the Jihad, which has prevented many essential items from being delivered to Tentena. Travel in and out of Tentena remains extremely dangerous to Christians if not impossible,” reported Snyder.