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The roots of Jemaah Islamiyah

By Amy Chew for CNN


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BALI BOMBING SUSPECTS ON TRIAL

Amrozi
- Charged for planting the bombs used in the attacks.

Imam Samudra
- Accused of planning and executing the attacks.

Mukhlas (Ali Ghufron)
- Accused of being in charge of the bombings.
- Said to be the operational chief of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

KEY JI FIGURES
Ali Imron
- Said to have acted as a courier for various people and items related to the attacks.
- Yet to go on trial.

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir
- Said to be the spiritual head of JI.
- Accused of treason for his involvement in church bombings in 2000.
- Not charged in relation to the Bali attacks.

Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi
- Believed to be a key JI operative in southeast Asia.
- Responsible for several bombings in the Philippines.
- Not linked to the Bali attacks.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- When Jemaah Islamiyah suspect, Ihwanudin, was arrested by Indonesian police in the early hours of July 11, they found an M16 rifle and 1,640 bullets at his residence.

Police handcuffed Ihwanudin and brought him to a police station for questioning.

Mid-way through the questioning, the suspect jumped up, grabbed the seized M16, locked himself in a toilet and shot himself dead.

Ihwanudin took with him the details of a series of planned attacks and the whereabouts of several bombs which were brought to Jakarta.

His suicide highlighted the fierce loyalty which JI inspired -- death was better than a betrayal of his cause -- by revealing the group's secrets.

It is this militancy that has sustained the group and worried authorities.

Ihwanudin was arrested in a swoop which netted eight other JI members and the discovery of a large cache of weapons and explosives including 1,200 detonators, more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, 11 shoulder-launched rockets, four boxes of TNT.

Documents seized also revealed plans to assassinate four senior officials from President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDIP).

The find raised fears JI was planning another major attack after the deadly Bali blast of October 12 last year. To date, police have arrested more than 30 JI suspects in connection with the Bali bombings and continue to hunt for other suspects.

"The fact that the suspects were arrested in Jakarta and not some safe place in a remote village indicates they were planning something big," Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group said.

Spiritual leader

As the world's most populous Muslim nation where the majority are moderates, JI was virtually unknown until Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines arrested militants for planning to attack U.S. targets across the region.

Some of the detainees confessed to being members of JI.

The detainees also claimed Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Baasyir, who is currently on trial for plotting to overthrow the government and setting up an Islamic state, as JI's spiritual leader.

Baasyir is also accused of approving the fatal bombings of churches across the country on the Christmas Eve of 2000 and plans to assassinate President Megawati.

Indonesian police say JI is the resurgence of an earlier Muslim movement, Darul Islam (DI). The group waged a fierce armed insurgency in West Java against the central government from 1948-1962 in an attempt to establish an Islamic state.

Led by S. Kartosuwiryo, DI was later joined by Kahar Muzakkar, a rebel leader in South Sulawesi who shared the same vision of an Islamic state. The insurgency tied down much of the country's military during that period.

After the rebellion was put down, the movement went underground.

Abu Bakar Baasyir became a member of DI in the seventies and espoused the same ideals as Kartosuwiryo. He was subsequently sentenced to jail for his involvement in the group which was then referred by the government as Komando Jihad.

Baasyir fled to Malaysia in 1985 to escape his prison sentence.

In Malaysia, he became a religious teacher and preached the ideology of an Islamic state in Indonesia by waging a jihad, including taking up arms, according to testimonies by former JI members..

While in Malaysia, a split occurred in Darul Islam between 1992-1993.

Islamic super state

The late Abdullah Sungkar, together with Abu Bakar Baasyir, left Darul Islam and set up Jemaah Islamiyah. JI's headquarters followed Baasyir when he returned to Indonesia in 1999 a year after the ouster of former President Suharto.

JI's initial aim was to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia.

But as they drew like-minded followers from Malaysia and other parts of the region, the concept of an Islamic super state encompassing southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and southern Philippines was born.

JI members were sent to Afghanistan and southern Philippines for military training. Many of them were taught basic bomb-making skills.

It is estimated some 500 Indonesians have trained in camps run by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) there.

While DI's aim is to establish an Islamic state, JI goes one step further -- its members are called to wage a jihad anywhere in the world where Muslims are deemed to be oppressed.

"Indonesia was seen as a jihad area following the outbreak of violence in Maluku where Muslims were killed by Christians," a police official told CNN.

Muslim-Christian fighting erupted in 1999 on the eastern island of Maluku, killing more than 10,000 people. The victims were roughly equal from both sides.

As the police races to track down fugitive JI militants, the war against terrorism can only be won by winning the hearts and minds of those filled with twisted hatred from the injustices in the Muslim world.


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