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Jihadism in Indonesia : Poso on the Edge

ICC Note: Here is a summary about the situation that is going on in Indonesia

1/24/07 Indonesia For full story….(International Crisis Group) After eight months of trying to induce surrenders, the Indonesian police have conducted two major raids this month in Poso, Central Sulawesi, to arrest a group of men, most local members of the terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), wanted for a range of bombings, beheadings and drive-by shootings. Peaceful efforts had clearly failed but the high death toll from the second raid has turned the wanted men into victims. A jihad that has been largely directed against local Christians could now be focused on the police as a thought (anti-Islamic force) and give a boost to Indonesia ’s weakened jihad movement. The urgent task now is for the government to work with Muslim leaders to explain in detail who the suspects were and why force was used. It also should examine how police operations were conducted to see if further measures could have been taken to prevent casualties. Authorities likewise need to begin addressing a wide range of local grievances.

Just after dawn on 22 January 2007 Indonesian police moved in on a quiet Poso street. They found themselves confronting not just the men they sought but a much larger and heavily armed resistance, including mujahidin from elsewhere in the Poso area and several from Java. By the end of the day, one policeman and fifteen others were dead, and several on both sides wounded. Some two dozen were arrested as they fled.

This was the second attempt in two weeks to forcibly arrest more than twenty men who had been on a wanted list since May 2006. On 11 January, police raided the houses where they were believed to be hiding, killing two, arresting six and seizing a sizeable collection of weapons.

There were already indications that the suspects and their sympathizers, in an effort to enlist mujahidin from outside their own group, were portraying police operations as an attack on Muslims. Any deaths in the course of the operations would strengthen their hand, and they now have at least seventeen men from the two raids whom they will almost certainly claim as martyrs, or eighteen, counting a young man killed in October 2006 in a clash with police. One danger now is that the jihad’s will try to take the anti-thought war outside Poso, targeting police in other cities.

Finally there is the possibility that some of the fugitives might try to get to Java to join forces with Noordin. The Poso mujahidin are experienced in targeted assassinations, a tactic that has not been used outside conflict areas. While the likelihood of an operational link-up between the two groups is slight, the addition of even one experienced sniper to Noordin’s group could be lethal.

Even if these dangers are avoided and the remaining suspects are arrested, no one should be complacent that the violence in Poso is over. There is too much unfinished business from the communal conflict there that reached its height in 2000-2001. Some mujahidin speak of the need to have children quickly so that a new generation of fighters can be produced. Even as the government continues its security operations, a more comprehensive approach to the conflict is urgently needed.


To the Government of Indonesia :

1. Establish an independent commission of inquiry, including community leaders from Poso, on the 11 and 22 January police operations and mandate it to:

(a) determine whether the justified operations were properly conducted, in particular whether any of the deaths could have been avoided given that the suspects were heavily armed; and

(b) work quickly and disseminate its final report widely.

2. Work with Islamic leaders, using all media but especially Muslim websites and web-based discussion groups, to explain to the Indonesian public why the Poso suspects were targeted, what their crimes were and why force was used, so that it is not left to the police to explain their own actions.

3. Establish an independent fact-finding body, composed of all the stakeholders in a peaceful Poso and with full power to question civilian and military authorities, to examine grievances left over from the 2000-2001 conflict and suggest ways to heal them, with particular attention to the killings at the Walisongo Pesantren and surrounding villages in late May-early June 2000 and the Buyung Katedo killings in 2001.

4. Set up a body directly under the president, with a mandate to document the needs of those who are still displaced and work out an employment program that can absorb the local mujahidin.

5. Publish and adopt the full set of recommendations made by the fact-finding committee set up after the 22 October 2006 clash between police and mujahidin supporters in Poso.

6. Work with local leaders and donors to develop a genuinely community-based police force in Poso that would not have to rely on outside reinforcements and ensure that allegations of grave ill-treatment by security forces are immediately and transparently investigated.