Skip to comments.Radical Indonesian Islamic group moving into tsunami-devastated Aceh
Posted on 01/06/2005 6:16:44 AM PST by freeperfromnj
A radical Islamic group once headed by the alleged leader of a Southeast Asian terrorist group has set up a relief operation in tsunami-stricken Aceh province, and one expert warned it might try to stir up sentiment against U.S. and Australian troops also distributing aid there.
Separately, the South Korean government issued a warning Thursday that tsunami relief workers in Indonesia could become a target for terror attacks. It was the first terror warning since thousands of agencies and organizations _ including the U.S. military _ began rushing into the area to help it recover after the Dec. 26 disaster.
"We have acquired intelligence that our relief groups in Indonesia and some other areas are becoming a possible target of terror attacks," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu-hyung said in a statement.
It did not elaborate on the threat, but said that South Korea had sent a "strong request to the related countries" to take security measures for South Korean aid workers.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is predominantly moderate but hosts dozens of radical Islamic groups. It formed the main base for Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group which operated across Southeast Asia and is blamed in a string of bombings in recent years that have killed hundreds of people.
Radical Islamic group Laskar Mujahidin has set up camp close to hundreds of other local and international volunteers at the military airport in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, beneath a sign in English that reads "Islamic Law Enforcement."
The airport, on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, is full of international troops and aid workers helping the province recover from the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami ravaged the coast, killing around 100,000.
Laskar Mujahidin group campaigns for an Islamic state in Indonesia and is fiercely anti-American.
About 50 members are in Aceh, collecting corpses still buried beneath debris in Banda Aceh, distributing food and spreading Islamic teachings among refugees in the city, one of its members said Thursday.
They would not interfere with foreign troops _ as long as they kept strictly to humanitarian operations.
"We are here to help our Muslim brothers," said Jundi, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name. "As long as they (foreign troops) are here to help, we will have no problem with them. There is no need for any friction."
Laskar Mujahidin forms the security arm of a larger much group, the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia. Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia was once headed by Abu Bakar Bashir, who is currently on trial as the alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiyah.
Bashir faces charges related to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people and the 2003 attack on the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12. The group is also blamed for last year's bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, though Bashir has not been charged in that case.
Sidney Jones, a Jemaah Islamiyah expert with the International Crisis Group, said Laskar Mujahidin was "raising concerns that the presence of U.S. and Australian troops in Aceh to help the humanitarian aid effort masks a hidden agenda" of converting people to Christianity.
"They appear to see their role not only as helping victims, but as guarding against 'kafir' _ infidel _ influence," Jones told a regional forum in Singapore.
The group, from Indonesia's main island of Java, is unlikely to attract much support among native Acehnese, who are a fiercely independent people. Three years ago, another radical Islamic group, Laskar Jihad, tried to open branches in the province but locals drove it out.
Jones said she thought any terrorist attack that targeted those involved in the relief effort would backfire.
"If they were so foolish as to try another bombing while the country is in mourning for the tsunami victims, there would be unprecedented outrage," said Jones, who has written extensively about Jemaah Islamiyah and its origins in conservative Islamic groups in Indonesia.
Since the disaster, thousands of volunteers have flooded the province from elsewhere in Indonesia, often in teams sent by political parties, religious organizations or local governments.
The Muslim Justice and Welfare party, a small but growing Islamist party that has campaigned for Islamic law in secular Indonesia, has also pledged to send 800 volunteers to Aceh. Party leaders claim it was among the first organizations to distribute food, water, medicine and hundreds of prayer kits to survivors
All I need to know about the Islam religion:
Jesus loves me, and Allah wants me DEAD!
You joined FR two days before 9/11, I joined two days after.
Declare martial law in the affected areas. Orders of shoot to kill all terrorists. Heck, after the 1906 quake in SF, the National Guard were on shoot to kill orders regarding petty looters. Is this too much to ask?
They need to be stopped before they dig in.
Interesting...the enemy is worried. A reason to stay if there ever was one.
"They appear to see their role not only as helping victims, but as guarding against 'kafir' _ infidel _ influence," Jones told a regional forum in Singapore. Right. Does anyone believe that they are there simply guard against infidel influence and to take advantage of this crisis to convert more Indonesians to Islam? I do not believe anything they say and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will shoot Americans and their allies without provocation. And what about all the Christian organizations that are already there giving aid and comfort to those in need? By the very fact that they are Christian makes them a target for terrorists. One can well question the true motives of the "incoming" terrorists. Are they there to help their fellow Muslims, or are they really there to kill Americans? I think the answer is clear. I hope we have an adequate military presence in the area to protect those who are only there to help.
"They need to be stopped before they dig in".
I've read several times in recent days that our SF are on the ground in N Sumatra
No, no, no...Allah doesn't want you dead. He wants you in his fan club. If you refuse, then he wants you dead.
"The group, from Indonesia's main island of Java, is unlikely to attract much support among native Acehnese, who are a fiercely independent people. Three years ago, another radical Islamic group, Laskar Jihad, tried to open branches in the province but locals drove it out".
I don't know the answer. But letting thousands of children die of starvation and disease isn't it. Best of all solutions would be for the local Muslims to drive the fanatics out with pitchforks. And, I'd sure support a shoot to kill policy for any non-resident Muslim who so much as looks crosseyed at relief workers or military personnel. What a mess!
A terrorist attack on aid workers is only a matter of time.
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