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Press Release — April 2, 2002

Indonesian ‘Jihad’ Ready to Combat Americans

Responsible for acts of terrorism against the Christian minority in Indonesia, the militant Muslim organization Laskar Jihad has affirmed its commitment to carry out acts of violence against not only Indonesia’s Christians, but also against Americans as well.

On March 19, 2002, in Jakarta, Indonesia, the London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat interviewed Ja’far Omar Taleb, the leader of the Laskar Jihad organization, stated that his organization’s goal is not only to target Christians in Indonesia, but also American interests.

Taleb was asked, “In light of your [Lashkar Jihad’s] enmity towards America, do you plan to target American interests in Indonesia?” Taleb’s reply was: “America operates in Indonesia through non-governmental organizations…We are not hostile to the American people, but to American policy in our country and in Muslim countries. They think that we are dangerous because we confront the non-governmental organizations that are acting to corrupt Indonesia.”

The strength of the Laskar Jihad, according to Taleb, is in the dedication of the young people, which he claims numbers 10,000 strong. When Taleb was asked whether or not his band of ‘holy warriors’ would confront American interests, he replied: “We will confront them with all means of combat and preaching.”

Taleb has repeatedly denied that the Laskar Jihad has any connections with Osama bin Laden and his organization Al-Qa’ida. Taleb says in the interview that Al-Qa’ida has accused Muslim rulers and clerics of heresy simply because not all Muslim leaders agree with all of Al-Qa’ida’s interpretations of the Koran.

When asked about the possibility of Laskar Jihad joining in the fight against America, Talib replied, “Allah be praised, the Muslims continue their Jihad against America, and it is our obligation to support them as best we can.” When asked, despite his disagreements with Al-Qa’ida, whether he would support Al-Qa’ida members in their fight against America, Taleb replied, “Of course, as they are Muslims and it is our duty to support Muslims and to wash our hands of the infidels. This is our principle.”

Following a trip to Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi island in late November, the Washington, D.C. based International Christian Concern (ICC) raised concerns about the heightened presence of the Laskar Jihad in the region. ICC reported that the Laskar Jihad not only posed a serious threat against the Christian population, but also expressed concern about the group’s likely connections to Osama bin-Laden and his Al-Qa’ida network. ICC reported having been taken to the outskirts of a training camp that was said to be hosting Muslim fighters from Afghanistan. In the weeks to follow, ICC’s concerns were confirmed. Indonesia’s intelligence agency reported having found an abandoned Al-Qa’ida training camp in Central Sulawesi. Laskar Jihad was massing thousands of armed warriors in preparation to attack the 68,000 Christians in Tentena. Subsequent reports and the Al-Hayat interview have raised further concerns about the dangerous activities of the Laskar Jihad and how the far-reaching tentacles of Al-Qa’ida can recruit militant groups like the Laskar Jihad to spew their venom of violence and terrorism against Christians and American interests worldwide.