Indonesia: How Weak Are The Local Terrorists?


June 15, 2006: In East Timor, peacekeeper troops have driven the gangs off the streets, but not out of business. The gangs still have the population terrified, even though there is much less looting and arson. The 2,000 peacekeepers have taken about a thousand weapons from civilians, but are waiting for the order from the East Timor government to disarm the rebellious 600 former soldiers who are still camped outside the capital.

June 14, 2006: Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual advisor and inspiration to terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah, was released from prison, after serving 26 months for giving his blessing to the 2002 Bali bombings (none of the other charges stuck). Bashir is a prominent, and popular, Islamic scholar. He has conservative views, and believes Indonesia should live under Islamic (Sharia) law. Bashir is also one of the founders of Jemaah Islamiah, although he now officially opposes terrorism. He does, however, consider the 2002 Bali attack "God's will." The big unknown is whether Bashir will now revitalize Jemaah Islamiah, which has been much diminished by four years of vigorous counter-terrorist activity.

June 13, 2006: The UN is passing the hat, looking for money to support 133,000 refugees in East Timor (about 14 percent of the population) and to supply a new peacekeeping force to remain for an extended period.

June 9, 2006: In East Timor, things have quieted down, after about two dozen people died, several hundred were injured and about twenty percent of the country's population fled their homes. Many refugees have returned home, but the bad feelings between people of eastern and western parts of the country, and from urban and rural areas, remains.


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