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Ji Will Always Threaten Australia

The recent bombing in front of the Australian embassy in September 2004 shows the importance of looking beyond Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to understand its extended family — the splinters and offshoots of the 55-year-old Darul Islam (DI) movement. Virtually all jihadist groups in Indonesia have DI origins, including a small group from Banten, West Java, that worked with JI on the September bombing. Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Embassy Bombing, the latest background report from the International Crisis Group, examines the DI network and shows how its evolution helps explain the recruiting base, support network, and potential partners for jihadists in Indonesia. It also offers important clues as to how JI, itself a DI offshoot, will adapt to changing conditions. “If Darul Islam’s past is any guide, JI may be able to weather internal splits and survive the arrests of its top leaders, but it’s unlikely to expand very far outside of its old DI base”, says Sidney Jones, Crisis Group’s South East Asia Project Director. The way Darul Islam survived military defeat in the 1960s and the arrest of virtually its entire leadership from 1977 to 1982 indicates that JI may be able to survive the loss of its central command structure. In addition, the enhanced legitimacy that DI leaders often got from serving jail time suggests that Indonesian authorities need to pay more attention today to the impact of prison on JI members and what happens to them after their release. The history of the movement also suggests the network is able to renew itself organically at regular intervals: younger members break away from older leaders who seem out of touch and form new splinters to respond to pressing political concerns. But few breaks are final, and most of the various offshoots and factions stay in touch. The common thread that binds them is the commitment to the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia. “Darul Islam’s ability to adapt and survive over the past five decades suggests Indonesia is unlikely to eradicate JI, but it ought to be able to contain the terrorist threat if it can manage communal tensions, improve law enforcement capacity, and exert better control over the sale and transfer of arms, ammunition, and explosives”, says Jones.


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