Indonesia: Islamic Radicals Retreat


December 22, 2010: Recent arrests of senior Islamic terrorists has not totally destroyed Jemaah Islamiah (JI, the local version of al Qaeda). But these arrests, and similar ones earlier this year, have made it clear that JI is unable to protect or hide its senior people. Counter-terror forces, especially Detachment 88 are working their way down an increasingly threadbare list of suspects. Moreover, it's been years since JI has been able to launch a major attack. Even second-rate Islamic radical groups are backing down. This year, the Islamic vigilantes are promising to not attack Christian Christmas ceremonies. In the last few years, such attacks have resulted in stronger and stronger backlash from the police, and Christians. So this year, the vigilantes are calling off the anti-Christian violence, and concentrating on driving Christians into ghettos, and reducing the number of Moslems converting to Christianity. Anti-infidel (non-Moslem) violence is a growing problem, as Islamic radicals seek an outlet for their aggression that won't land them in prison.

Counter-terror efforts this year have wrecked Islamic radical efforts to establish bases in Aceh, Indonesia's most western, and most Islamic, province. While there are more people in Aceh who admire Islamic radicals, there are also many who will simply report such activity to the police. The one type of Islamic radicalism that retains popular support are the Islamic vigilante groups that drive out prostitution, drinking and gambling. Or at least they try to. All these vices remain, keeping the vigilantes busy, but not, in most cases, inclined to escalate to Islamic terrorism.

East Timor's leaders want foreign peacekeepers to leave, and more foreign aid to arrive. The problem is that East Timor has no functioning economy and survives on foreign aid. The peacekeepers probably could leave, allowing the newly trained Timorese police to take over. But with the high unemployment and poor governance, the potential for renewed unrest remains.

In Indonesian West Papua, the security forces continue to search for separatists. It's hard to find separatists, as these men know the woods and hills better, and can also hide in plain sight. Much of the violence the security forces encounters is related to land disputes or tribal feuds. But the separatist violence will increase as more Indonesian Malays (the majority ethnic group) move to Papua. The native Melanesians (native to Papua, easily identified as they are taller and darker than Malays) are very hostile to this migration.

December 10, 2010: Counter-terrorism police tracked down and arrested one of their most wanted terrorist leaders, who goes by the single name; Tholut. He was an early member of Jemaah Islamiah, and has received training overseas.

December 4, 2010:  Malaysia expelled an Indonesian Jemaah Islamiah leader (Fadli Sadama), who had been arrested in Malaysia eight weeks earlier. Sadama was caught with two guns, and Malaysia knew of his terrorist background. Indonesia took Sadama into custody, and will prosecute him.





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