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The violent fringes of Indonesia's radical Islam

By M.M. van Bruinessen


The October 12 bombing in Bali that killed more than 180 people\ud seemed to vindicate the claims of those who had been accusing\ud the Indonesian authorities of deliberately ignoring the presence on\ud Indonesian soil of Islamic terrorists, connected with the al-Qa’ida\ud network. Self-styled terrorism experts at once claimed to\ud recognize the signature of al-Qa’ida’s alleged regional\ud mastermind Hambali, who was believed to have planned a similar\ud bombing of the US Embassy in Singapore. More sober voices\ud commented that domestic power struggles rather than\ud international terrorism might be responsible for this outrage. It\ud was the largest, but by no means the first major bomb explosion\ud in Indonesia; the country had seen many of those since the fall of\ud Suharto in May 1998, and in many cases military personnel —\ud ‘rogue’ elements, ‘deserters’, retired or indeed active officers —\ud appeared to be involved. There are also, however, a number of\ud relatively small but conspicuously violent radical Islamic\ud movements, that engage in jihad in such places as the Moluccas\ud and Central Sulawesi or act as vigilante squads raiding nightclubs,\ud discotheques and other dens of inequity. Surprisingly perhaps,\ud several of these militias maintain close relations with factions in\ud the military or political elite

Topics: Letteren
Year: 2002
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