Indonesian radicals threaten anti-U.S. violence
By Atika Shubert
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Radical Islamic groups in Indonesia are stepping up threats of violence against U.S. targets in the country should the U.S. launch a military strike on Afghanistan.
Muhammad Kalono, a spokesman for Islamic paramilitary groups, said Wednesday, "If America drops even one bullet in Afghanistan, God willing, we will wipe out all U.S. facilities and interests here."
The threats undercut a promise made by Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri during her meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, where she pledged to support the war on terrorism.
The government now treads a delicate balance between international security interests and the demands of radical Islamic groups within the world's largest Muslim community.
Last week's terrorist attacks shocked many Indonesians but it also revealed the country's mixed feelings about the world's only superpower.
While the gates of the U.S. embassy are covered in flower bouquets from Indonesians offering condolences, anti-American demonstrators also continue to march by.
Indonesia's Vice President Hamzah Haz, a high-profile Islamic leader, said last week that he hoped the recent attacks would " cleanse America of its sins."
Despite the large amount of U.S. aid to the country, Indonesian governments -- past and present -- have chafed under U.S. criticism of Indonesia's human rights record.
"There has been a lot of feeling of grievances against the United States in this part of the world," said Dewi Fortuna Anwar, former presidential adviser and analyst on Islamic affairs.
"But here, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and we can see the injustice that is being done to the Palestinians.
"So many countries have felt that the United States is a double dealing power, is double faced and hypocritical. And that message is being sent strongly to this part of the world."
Islamic paramilitaries like the Jihad Army had previously concentrated on fighting a religious war in the Maluku islands.
Similarly, the Defenders of Islam group became known for their vandalism of bars, nightclubs and other "un-Islamic" venues in the capital of Jakarta.
These groups, formerly shunted to the fringes of Indonesia's moderate Muslim society, are now playing to those anti-American sentiments.
Last year, one group carried out "sweeps" of cities in Central Java, threatening to evict all U.S. citizens. In the end, several hotel employees were threatened but no one was harmed.
U.S. embassy officials are now urging Indonesian security forces to take stronger action against these threats.
Last month, the State Department issued a warning to Americans to refrain from traveling in Indonesia due to specific terrorist threats. That warning still stands.
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