Monday, June 25, 2007
Chilled by words of hatred

Abu Dujana seemed resigned now to his fate

I thought it was a joke when I first got the e-mail. CNN's Jakarta producer contacted me to say that the recently captured Indonesian terrorist suspect, Abu Dujana, was willing to do an interview. I felt like saying "Yes, well let's see if Osama's available too, and we can see if we can get them on Larry King as a double act."

But she insisted the police had sanctioned a face-to-face meeting with Jemaah Islamiyah's military commander, at a secret location somewhere in Java. We scrambled to the airport and less than 24 hours later I found myself nervously pacing up and down an empty, echoing corridor of a police building, waiting for a convoy carrying the most dangerous terrorist in Southeast Asia.

He appeared in silhouette initially. He was dressed in white and flanked by armed plainclothes police officers. As he approached I could see a slightly built, wiry man, who looked younger than the 37 years old police said he was.

He smiled as the officers took off his handcuffs. I was alarmed at the apparently lax security. The door was a few feet away and there was no one guarding it. I thought for a moment that he might make a run for it.

But he didn't. He seemed resigned now to his fate. He is facing the death penalty if convicted on terrorism charges.

The police think Abu Dujana was involved in some way with just about every major terrorist attack in Indonesia in the last five years, rising through the ranks of Jemaah Islamiyah to become the pre-eminent military commander.

He is a veteran of Afghan terrorist training camps and even boasts he once met Osama Bin Laden.

Our interview was conducted in a conference room. As the camera crew made final adjustments to the shot, I tried to make small talk with the alleged mass murderer sitting in front of me.

It was difficult. What do you chat about with someone who has dedicated their life to an organization that believes in indiscriminate mass murder? The weather? The price of rice? The latest football results?

In the end, I explained that he could talk in Indonesian, but my questions would be in English, that he should look at me, not the translator and that he should try to stay still in his chair.

He seemed affable, but had piercing brown eyes. He exuded a calm disdain for me. A gentle, inner mocking resonated from his face, which frequently cracked into a broad smile. He spoke softly and with obvious intelligence.

He was careful not to implicate himself directly in any attacks, claiming they were carried out by a splinter cell, which had become alienated from Jemaah Islamiyah.

But on broader philosophical questions, he was unremittingly nihilistic. He believes in the utter supremacy of Sharia law, and that hard-line Islamic rules should be imposed on everyone, regardless of the faith.

Abu Dujana sees Americans as legitimate targets, because of the United States intervention in Iraq and backing of Israel. He laughed as he said I, too, was a legitimate target simply for being British. He seemed unconcerned about his own life or those of his wife and children, saying God would make the only judgment that mattered.

After 40 minutes, I was getting increasingly irritated by his fascistic nonsense and he too was also growing weary with reciting dogmatic answers. He said he had to pray, and the interview ended.

He was led away to a small office to face Mecca. I waited in the corridor outside. When his conversation with God over, he was handcuffed and gently escorted to a waiting car, leaving me chilled by his words of hatred -- words that were often said with a smile.

Watch the interview

From Dan Rivers, CNN International Correspondent
Ah how biased you are. "what do you chat about with someone who has dedicated their life to an organization that believes in indiscriminate mass murder?" Yes, what do you chat with George W. Bush about? "a gentle, inner mocking resonated from his face, which frequently cracked into a broad smile" again, George W. Bush daily . "he was careful not to implicate himself directly in any attacks, claiming they were carried out by a splinter cell" or in the case of George W. Bush it is usually a few "bad apples". Allow me to adjust one of your comments slightly. "he believes in the utter supremacy of sharia law, and that hard-line Islamic rules should be imposed on everyone, regardless of the faith" George W. Bush believes in the utter supremacy of christian law, and that hard-line christian rules should be imposed on everyone, regardless of the faith. And yes after six years I am also getting increasingly irritated by George W. Bush's fascistic nonsense and yes i am left "chilled by his words of hatred--words that were often said with a smile." Mr. Rivers, if you are going to call the religious zealot out please make sure you don't limit your points to only those that you choose not to agree with. As we British say, witches and warlocks, Mr. Rivers, witches and warlocks.
Somehow I find it hard to believe that a reporter would be surprised at the level of hatred in someone's eyes when he interviews a committed terrorist. People, the terrorists, are lying down their lives to erradicate a way of life that they find abhorrant so there is obviously a strong committment that goes along with their perceived struggle and they have no qualms about killing civilians to further their cause. The rest of us are victims but our military is also fighting back killing innocent civilians in the process. The reporter should take the time to interview someone who has lost a loved one to a US bomb or a NATO missile strike and he will see the same hatred in their eyes.
Mr Dan Rivers seem to be one of those embedded journalist of the US armed forces. I sometime get the feeling that CNN is one embedded channel - the channel of the US administration (read: the US business community). Or is it because freedom of speech in the US is so limited that everything said has to be politically correct. Not to loose the business.

I believe a journalist should avoid to judge, just convey and let the readers make their own judgements. Most readers are educated, do have morals and ethics of their own. And readers do consult the world before judging. And the world is much larger than the continental USA.
This terrorist's comments should be specifically stated (in their raw form) just in case the dainty ones who feel the problem will just go away if the civilized world does nothing happen to be watching current events.
as an outsider who is not involved in politics or war, and myself not bein born in the western countries or islamic ones, I must say that admire islamics, simply because they are not giving up. Its hard to even try and understand what the real reasons for this wars are, people in the west are born with the world in their hands, and people in the middle east are born with the world dropping bombs on them. When they pick up the pieces of burning metal from the bombs, they will see words like MADE IN USA. How can any one even judge them for trying to get back at the west, it looks to me that they are only trying to SURVIVE
The emotions shown by both the interviewee and interviewer are clear signs of the gulf between them and by implication, the gulf between the Terrorist Attitude of "Kill them all and let God sort out the guilty from the innocent" and the more Western Attitude of identify the separating the sheep from the goats while they are still alive.
I think what some folks forget is that it is not necessarily the peace loving muslim who initiates militant attacks. And that, if I am not mistaken, Mohammed stated that when "Jesus" comes, his followers are to follow Him. Thus, I have to conclude that when militants think that every step they take in any country of the world is a step in "Islam", this militancy is not necessarily the faith of their fathers. MAnd, it will not overcome. Militancy is a snare for the young with ideals, almost an addiction it seems. What is it that makes young men with so much potential and life before them, throw it down for a man in a mask that says "Allah wills it". What makes them believe that?
Btw, it is interesting to consider that the two people in this world that will give their lives for you are Jesus Christ and an American soldier/British soldier.
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