Police believe that only a small minority of Islamic conservatives back
terrorism. Even Jemaah Islamiya, long described as the al Qaeda affiliate in
the region, has officially turned away from terrorist violence, although some
radical members still advocate bombings and such. But most of the radicals have
fled the country, and they are being killed or arrested as they desperately
seek a sanctuary. Three of these men, arrested earlier this year in Malaysia, went on trial for terrorism last
conservatives have turned to using publicity and political influence to get
laws passed to impose more conservative lifestyle rules. These have been met
with massive political and popular opposition. Meanwhile, Islamic radical
leaders outdo each other with conspiracy theories. For example, senior radical
cleric Abu Bakar Bashir now insists that the 2002 Bali bombing (that killed
200) was actually a CIA missile, fired from a ship off shore. Many followers
will believe this, but most Indonesians know exactly what happened.
foreign troops and police in East Timor have been able to prevent another
outbreak of violence, but have not been able to do much about the underlying
causes (massive unemployment). There is still a lot of low level crime, and not
much economic investment.
2008: In the Maluku islands, three fire bombs (Molotov Cocktails) were set off,
one against a government office building. There were no injuries. These islands
are about half Christian, and long the scene of Islamic radical violence, which
has been in decline.
2008: In the last few days, police on
the island of Sulawesi have found and disarmed two terrorist bombs, which were
planted in a Hindu neighborhood. Islamic terrorists are determined to make a
statement, as the execution of three Islamic terrorists approaches. The Hindu
minority (three percent of the population) is a particular target of the
Islamic extremists, because historically the Hindus are considered pagans,
while Christians and Jews are recognized as having some historical connections
2008: Australia has warned its citizens
to stay away from Indonesia, and possible unrest, until the three Islamic
terrorists (convicted for their part in the 2002 bombings) are executed
sometime in November.
2008: Indonesian police arrested five
men, and seized bomb making materials. The five, who belonged to several Islamic radical groups, were planning
to bomb the largest fuel storage area in the capital. The arrested men appeared
to have help from other radical groups (Jundulah, the Islamic State of
Indonesia, KOMPAK, FAKTA and a branch of Jemaah Islamiya in Singapore.) Most of
these supporting groups appear to be tiny, some with only a few active members.
The radicals seem to have found each other, and joined forces to improve their
chances of carrying out an attack.
2008: In Papua, a pro-independence rally
of some 2,000 people, was broken up by police, who arrested fifteen people.