Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Trouble in Poso *Updated*

Indonesian police raid terrorist base in Poso
Indonesian anti-terror police came under fire during a security operation yesterday in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Eleven persons were killed, including one officer. Photo: MetroTV News
The situation in the troubled Indonesian town of Poso, Central Sulawesi has been heating up in the past few weeks. The police anti-terror unit and Mobile Brigades have been making efforts to track and capture 29 individuals specified on a wanted list, focusing mainly on the Gebang Rejo district of Poso City. Two weeks ago an arrest operation was met with considerable resistance, resulting in a gunbattle which left two suspects dead and four arrested. Following the funeral of one of those killed, a mob attacked and killed a police officer.

Subsequent security operations in Gebang Rejo last week were met with a general resistance by residents, who fought police and blocked roads with rocks and trees in apparent attempts to protect fugitives still in the area. Yesterday morning security forces attempted to raid another house in the district, sparking another gunbattle which left 11 dead including one police officer, 21 wounded including 3 officers, and 18 captured suspects. The sounds of gunfire and explosions at the scene went on for several hours, witnesses said. Later in the afternoon, 6 more individuals from the wanted list surrendered themselves to police.

Police found caches of weapons at the hideout consisting of dozens of homemade bombs, 179 rifles, 1500 rounds of ammunition, stores of bomb making materials and "important documents." Poso was said to be quiet last night, without further gunfire or explosions, and schools have been closed today.

Police have said that some of this armed group had trained in Afghanistan and Mindanao terrorist camps, and that several of them are suspects in the beheadings of three young Christian girls in 2005 as well as other violent incidents going back to 1998.

Most of the preceding account has been compiled from watching reports on Metro TV yesterday and this morning, which I receive via satellite dish here in Bangkok. Earlier wire service reports here and here.

A new report from AFP says that 2 additional companies from the police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) will be deployed in Poso to enforce security. Following a ceremony for the fallen police officer, the local deputy police chief also revealed that his department had requested support from the military earlier this month.
See Indonesia Matters for a more detailed account of the violence earlier this month in Poso. In summary, on January 11 police raided the home of one of those on the wanted list. As in yesterday's incident, those inside fought back with guns and home made bombs. Two people, including an Islamic teacher, Ustad ('Teacher') Rian were killed, and four suspects detained. Following the funeral for Ustad Rian, a policeman was attacked and killed.

Police later said the raid was aimed at arresting members of Jemaah Islamiyah, and named several Muslim clerics from Central Java who they claimed were teaching their followers to conduct violent jihad against the non-Muslim population in the area. One of those named was the slain Ustad Rian, and police were hunting for another four Javanese clerics. Police said those arrested in that raid had been planning to bomb a sports complex in the nearby, mainly Christian town of Tentena.

I'm very happy to see the authorities finally zeroing in on the radical clerics who are promoting this violent jihad garbage. After all, no one is more responsible for keeping the violence going, than those whose clear mission is the indoctrination of hatred toward non-Muslims. Before the fighters arrived in the early waves of Laskar Jihad ('Jihad Brigades') to this area (soon after the fall of Suharto), Muslims and Christians lived together with good relations.

As I recall, the earliest violence was ignited out of a contrived sectarian conflict arising out of a traffic accident, and before you could say "Allahu Akbar," Muslim men (mainly from Java) were signing up with the (now defunct) Laskar Jihad to go and kill Christians in Sulawesi. Christians fought back, and atrocities have been committed by both sides in the years since. Each time communal dialogue results in a tentative peace, skilled manipulators manage to puff on the embers and get the fire going again.

Back in Java -- the home base of the fugitive "Islamic teachers" in Poso (and also home to a highly refined and civilised indigenous culture which bears no resemblance to those intolerant sort of creeps), the well known radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir last week claimed that the United States is secretly behind all the strife which has wracked Central Sulawesi all this time. Ba'asyir, who is the "Amir" of the "Muhahideen Council of Indonesia" and is based at his pesantren (Islamic boarding school) near Solo, said the troubles between Christians and Muslims in Poso are provoked by America in order to keep Indonesia weak and divided, and dependent upon the United States.

Which, after all, he's just being consistent. His "teachings" revolve around the idea that everything wrong in the world is because of Jews and Americans, and their sinister conspiracies. He claims to believe, and promotes the idea that the 2002 Bali bombings (which killed more than 200 innocent people) was caused by an American "micro-nuclear device," rather than by the massive car-bomb constructed and detonated by a few of his students. The explosives-packed van was merely a convenient "cover" used by the diabolical Americans to mask their nuclear weapon. At a crowded bar in Kuta Beach, Bali.

By the way, if Barack Obama actually did attend a Muslim school at the age of six in Jakarta (about 40 years ago), it would be a point in his favour as far as I'm concerned. Radical Saudi Wahabist pesantren (not "madrasas") certainly do exist in Indonesia now, as evidenced by Ba'asyir's ravings. But in those days the pesantren were all run by either Nahdlatul Ulama or Muhammadiyah, both very moderate and indigenous Muslim social organisations.

Ba'asyir, if he was in the country at that time (he's originally from Yemen) would never have been permitted to teach his poison under the Suharto dictatorship. He lived for years in self-exile in Malaysia, returning only after Suharto's downfall. The indoctrination of children with his type of hatred and intolerance is a relatively recent phenomenon in Indonesia, and isn't something the young Barack Obama would have ever been fed at his school (which, as I calculate, would have been 1969 - 1971).

UPDATE: CNN sent a reporter to the Jakarta school, and Allah has the video here. It's not a radical pesantren now, and it wasn't a radical pesantren when 6 year-old Barack Obama attended in the 1960's. The segment on the school itself begins at 3:40, so start there if you'd like to skip the politics on this one. Nice school, if a bit more affluent than the average Jakarta school. I love how Wolf introduces it: "We actually conducted an exclusive, first hand investigation, inside Indonesia..."

Not a headscarf in sight, boys and girls attending classes together, including Christian, Buddhist and Confucian religion students. Meet a man who attended the school with Obama -- they even found a photograph of his teachers. The comments by the deputy headmaster and the former student are both great examples of what I was attempting to get across about Indonesians, just a few paragraphs above and in the previous post/introduction.


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