|Tamsil Linrung, Indonesian member of parliament was barred from boarding his flight to Canada.|
[Also posted at Agam's Gecko]
A diplomatic flap is developing between Indonesia and Canada after legislator Tamsil Linrung was barred from boarding a Cathay Pacific flight in Jakarta last week. He was to be part of a 12-member parliamentary delegation doing research on new regulations regarding management of coastal and island territories. Mr. Linrung is apparently on a black-list for his associations with terrorists and terror groups, and he's not happy about it. As far as I can find, the Canadian press has yet to report on this -- although the Indonesian press, as well as Muslim figures in the country are raising quite a stink about it.
Although the travel ban came from the Canadian embassy in Jakarta, the MP and his supporters are finding ways to blame the US for his problems. Linrung visited the US embassy on Monday to request clarification.
Tamsil Linrung is a prominent South Sulawesi representative in the national parliament, the DPR, having been placed in the number one spot on the "party list" for Makassar by the Islamist-oriented PKS (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, or "Prosperous Justice Party"). In earlier times he was a prominent activist in the hardline faction of HMI, the Muslim Students Organisation, national chairman of the Islamic "charity" KOMPAK, and treasurer of the (much more moderate) National Mandate Party (PAN) of Amien Rais. He left that last position not long after being arrested in the Philippines in 2002, along with two comrades, on terrorism charges. Linrung, along with Agus Dwikarna and Abdul Jamal Balfas, were caught with detonating cord, blasting caps and the explosive C4 in their luggage (Time Asia: April 1, 2002).
Agus Dwikarna was sentenced in the Philippines to 10 - 17 years but Linrung and Balfas were sent home a month after their arrests, following appeals from then-President Megawati Sukarnoputri. I am suspecting that it was her Vice President, the notorious terrorist apologist Hamza Haz who was the driving force behind springing these guys from Manila.
A big wai to the excellent Indonesia Matters for picking up on this story. Patung reports on reactions to the travel ban among the political class and national Muslim figures. A prominent foreign affairs commission member complains that "the matter was an outrageous insult and humiliation for the Indonesian parliament and the entire nation, and a violation of Tamsil’s human rights," following up with an ultimatum for the US embassy. A former Muhammadiyah leader demands firm action against Canada, while a former Islamic University rector says that it's very easy to understand the situation -- Canada is the US' largest trading partner, and therefore has to do everything the US tells it to.
More background also from Riccardo at JakChat, who notes that Linrung's release from Filipino custody (by Indonesia's intervention), came just 6 months before the country's national state of denial regarding terrorism came to an abrupt end with the massive October 2002 Bali bombings. His return was a triumphant homecoming, and he was welcomed by a "who's who" of Indonesian terror groups.
Robert Spencer made note of Linrung's entry into the Indonesian parliament under the PKS banner just two years later. Spencer quoted at length from an article in The Australian (the article has now apparently expired from their site), including reference to KOMPAK (chaired by Tamsil Linrung) and Jemaah Islamiyah.
A report released in February by the International Crisis Group, titled Jihad in Central Sulawesi, refers directly to Kompak. "From the beginning, Kompak had one foot in radical violence and one foot in the Muslim establishment," the think tank's report says.I have some of the ICG reports on jihadist networks in Indonesia. These are very well researched and contain a wealth of detail on the subject. [ICG now requires registration (free) to retrieve its older reports.] In Asia Report N°43 (11 December 2002), there is an account of Tamsil Linrung's association with Jemaah Islamiyah, the smiling hatemonger cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, and the formation of a new jihadi umbrella group.
It focuses on the Mujaheddin Kompak, a Muslim militia set up by a branch of the charity, and how it both competed and co-operated with JI in Poso. Mujaheddin Kompak was joined by former JI members impatient for action and was "leaner, meaner and quicker" than JI, the report says.
In late 1999, Ba’asyir as head of Jemaah Islamiyah called a meeting at the International Islamic University (Universiti Islam Antarabangsa) in Malaysia to set up the International Mujahidin Association (Rabitatul Mujahidin or RM). [page 8] From footnote #36:
Present in addition to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, according to another person who was there, were the JI inner core of Hambali, Abu Fatih, Ustadz Muklas, A. Umar, Aziz Kahar Muzakkar, Ali A.T. and Hasan Kamal; Agus Dwikarna and Tamsil Linrung; Eri Djunaidy, Lamkaruna Putra (Fauzi Hasbi’s son), and Faturrahman from Republik Islam Aceh; Tk. Idris, and his younger brother, Tgk. Muhammed from MP-GAM; a man known as Abu Huraerah from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; Ustadz Salim Ullah, another Afghanistan veteran, from the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation [Burma - ed.]; Nik Adli and one other man from PAS, Malaysia [Islamist political party - ed.]...Another four individuals listed by ICG's source were opposed to the use of violence. They were two from Thailand representing PULO (the "old" Pattani separatist group), one from Darul Islam of Indonesia, and another Rohingya rep from Burma. All those listed above favoured violent action. Quite the international gathering there in Malaysia (where of course, several of the planning meetings for Sept. 11 were also held around the same time period), and note the prominent guest list including Hambali and the Jemaah Islamiyah "inner core").
In Poso (central Sulawesi), the mujahideen groups were known as Laskar Jundullahs, or "Allah's Armies" (in other words, Indonesian for "Hizb Allah"). From page 20 of the same report:
The best-known of the Laskar Jundullahs was created in September 2000 as the military wing of KPPSI, the Preparatory Committee for Upholding Islamic Law, under the command of Agus Dwikarna, now detained in the Philippines as a JI member. It was originally conceived of as a religious police that would enforce Islamic law among KPPSI members. In setting up Laskar Jundullah, Dwikarna worked closely with Syawal, the JI member with close ties to the southern Philippines, and with Tamsil Linrung, the man later arrested with Dwikarna in the Philippines in March 2002.Tamsil Linrung is believed to continue on the advisory board of KPPSI.
The ICG's Asia Report N°74 (3 February 2004) focuses on jihad in Central Sulawesi, as referenced in the article from The Australian cited above. From page 4 of the report:
From the beginning, KOMPAK had one foot in radical violence and one foot in the Muslim establishment. After Ambon exploded, it became a conduit for funding jihad activities, purchasing arms, and producing videos of Muslim victims of violence that were then used to raise funds among Muslims abroad, reportedly with the help of men with al-Qaeda connections. At the same time, its genuine assistance to Muslim victims of floods and conflict-related displacement drew the support of senior politicians such as Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra.And from footnote #22 of that page:
KOMPAK at the national level was headed by Tamsil Linrung, a businessman from Makassar who until late 2003 was also the national treasurer of the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional or PAN).A little further into the report, page 11:
Laskar Jundullah was formally set up in Makassar in September 2000 as the security force of the Committee to Prepare for the Upholding of Islamic Law (Komite Persiapan Penegakkan Syariat Islam, KPPSI), under the command of Agus Dwikarna. It quickly established branches across South and Central Sulawesi and began systematically recruiting people to fight in Poso, as well as engaging in more mundane activities such as attacking sellers of alcoholic drinks. A main donor and fund-raiser was Tamsil Linrung, national head of KOMPAK.Linrung's role in the setting up and funding of Laskar Jundullah in Makassar is discussed in an Indonesian intelligence assessment, which ICG has obtained.
If a national political party, such as the Prosperous Justice Party, sees fit to promote an individual like Tamsil Linrung into its upper echelons, and the people of south Sulawesi see fit to vote for them, that is clearly an issue for the people of Indonesia, and especially south Sulawesi. The vast majority of the good citizens have been shown repeatedly to oppose violent terrorist groups of the type Tamsil Linrung apparently supports. The issue then becomes one of information and education, and of jihadist politicians pulling wool over people's eyes. But when such people expect to travel to other countries, those countries now have an interest in the issue. If some Indonesians feel "humiliated" by the attention, they need to consider who is really causing all their embarrassment.
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