[Nasional-e] [Nasional] Bali bombing: Rift emerges within Jemaah Islamiyah

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Wed Dec 18 04:00:42 2002

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 ICG: media release

Bali bombing: Rift emerges within Jemaah Islamiyah

Jakarta/Brussels, 11 December 2002: In a new report on Islamist extremism in
Southeast Asia, the International Crisis Group (ICG) reveals a deep rift within
the group suspected of carrying out the Bali bombings. Indonesia Backgrounder:
How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates shows that the JI network
may be far more extensive than previously imagined. It also shows how important
the communal conflicts in Maluku and Poso were for motivating, recruiting and
training the JI rank-and-file. As those conflicts have waned, ICG suggests, the
object of JI’s wrath may have shifted from Indonesian Christians regarded as
responsible for the massacres of Muslims to Westerners seen as supporting the
U.S.-led war on terrorism.

In an effort to better understand the network, ICG researchers have examined
earlier bombings in Indonesia linked to JI. In particular, they looked at the
Christmas Eve 2000 attacks in which more than 30 bombs were delivered to
churches or priests in eleven cities, across six provinces, all wired to explode
at around the same time. Some key findings emerged.

The chief strategists of JI appear to be protégés of the late Abdullah Sungkar,
the co-founder with Abu Bakar Ba’asyir of a religious boarding school at Ngruki
in Central Java. They tend to be Indonesian nationals living in Malaysia and are
often veterans of the anti-Soviet resistance or later fighting in Afghanistan. A
trusted second tier are assigned as field coordinators, who deliver money and
explosives and choose local team leaders. The bottom rung, those who drive the
cars, survey targets, deliver the bombs and most often risk arrest, injury or
death, are selected shortly before the attack is scheduled. They are mostly
young men from Muslim boarding schools (pesantren) or Islamic high schools.

A deep rift has emerged between Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the formal head of JI who is
under arrest in a Jakarta hospital, and younger JI leaders, mostly based in
Malaysia, who find him insufficiently radical. ICG believes that while Ba’asyir
undoubtedly knows far more than he is willing to divulge about JI operations, he
is unlikely to have been the mastermind of JI attacks, including the Bali

Finally, ICG found a curious link between Acehnese close to JI and Indonesian
military intelligence. Both groups have a history of bitter opposition to the
Acehnese rebel movement (GAM), which this week signed a peace agreement with the
Indonesian government. This link raises questions about whether military
intelligence had more access to information about JI than it has acknowledged to

“The Indonesian police have done a superb job thus far in the Bali
investigations but they’re dealing with a large and amorphous network”, ICG
Indonesia Project Director, Sidney Jones, said. “The government needs to ensure
that the intelligence capacity of the police, not the army, is strengthened to
cope with this threat. The Indonesian government also needs to get more serious
than it has thus far about corruption, with particular attention paid to the
trade in arms and explosives”.


Media contacts: Katy Cronin (London) +44 (0)20 86 82 93 51 media@crisisweb.org
Francesca Lawe-Davies (Brussels) +32 (0)2 536 0065
Jennifer Leonard (Washington) + 1-202-785 1601

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