Thursday, October 12, 2006

Indonesian terrorism rooted in ideology

(AKI/Jakarta Post) - Indonesia's brand of terrorism is starkly different from that found in the Middle East and should be tackled using specifically targeted methods, according to a leading Indonesia psychologist and terror expert. Sarlito Wirawan Sarwono, chairman of the Asian Psychologists' Association (APA), said that while terrorism in the Middle East is rooted in nationalism, in Indonesia it has traditionally been based on ideology. His comments came ahead of the fourth anniversary of the deadly 12 October 2002 Bali nightclub bombings which killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists. "The thing is that almost all terrorism theories are based on the results of research in the Middle East so it is understandable that many strategies, tactics and anti-terror technology applied in Indonesia have not been too effective," he said. Sarwono, also a terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia, said the families of Indonesian terrorists were mostly ashamed of their acts, unlike in the Middle East where such acts are often a source of pride. The predominantly Muslim nation has suffered from a slew of bloody attacks in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings, which left 202 people dead. Sarwono said a recent study showed that common concerns and appraisals of Jihad were two main factors that influenced young Muslims to join militant groups and launch terror attacks. The study was based on interviews with death-row Bali bombers Imam Samudra, Amrozi, Ali Gufron and Ali Imron, he added. "They share common concerns on goals, values, responsibilities and pride and they accept the meaning and consequences of their terror acts. "What is in their mind is that extreme ideology and rigid faith make them firm and prepared to use violence in the name of religion with the promise of pretty angels in heaven if they are killed," Sarwono said. Nasir Abas, a former regional commander of the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror network who has since joined efforts to fight terrorism, said Indonesian terrorists specifically targeted civilians, in contrast to their Middle Eastern counterparts. "They launch their actions against non-military members, unarmed people and not while in a condition of war," Abas said, adding that JI leaders were among the most dangerous militants. Sarwono described these leaders as "psychopaths", able to manipulate people into becoming suicide bombers - even when technology allows bombings to be carried out without them. "The suicide bombers are there as just a sensational (factor). The fact that there is a suicide bomber gives an attack a higher profile," Sarwono said. Abas said he believes key JI leader Noordin M. Top, who remains on the run, continues to recruit members as new jihadists in Indonesia. The former militant, who was arrested in 2003 in Bekasi, West Java, said JI was established in 1993 to defend Islam against non-Muslim enemies. "We were recruited not to carry out suicide attacks but to wage Jihad against countries and any non-Muslim groups who invaded Muslim countries. We were taught about certain extreme Islamic teachings to have us possess strong and rigid faith and trained to use violence to defend our religion," he told The Jakarta Post. Abas, born in Singapore in 1969 and now living in Malaysia with his wife and four children, said he knew nothing about Asia's alleged JI operative Omar al-Farouq, who was handed over by Indonesian intelligence officers to the United States. He was reported killed in a recent attack in Iraq. "If you want to know about him, ask his wife and his close relatives here. But, I know Amrozi, Imam Samudra, Igbal and others involved in the 2002 Bali blasts because they were my younger classmates when we were in Afghanistan (between 1987 and 1993)," he said.

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