Islamic party leader calls ISIS "overrated"

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Chairman Anis Matta says ISIS is overrated, but security experts and religious leaders see the group as a major threat.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

October 02, 2014
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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not deserve all the attention it is getting, according to one Indonesian politician, who has called the terrorist group "overrated".

  •  Residents stroll through Manggarai public market in Jakarta. Prosperous Justice Party Chairman Anis Matta has called ISIS

    Residents stroll through Manggarai public market in Jakarta. Prosperous Justice Party Chairman Anis Matta has called ISIS "overrated", but law enforcement and religious leaders consider the group's growth potential a serious threat. [Romeo Gacad/AFP]

"ISIS's strength is only at 30,000 while the number of countries that consider the group a threat is 40," Prosperous Justice Party ( PKS ) Chairman Anis Matta was quoted as saying by Kompas late last month.

"Terrorism groups are using ISIS to gain more followers and possibly to get more funding sources," Anis later told Khabar South Asia.

"But more importantly, ISIS does not represent Islam . It is about the power struggle among countries."

Colleagues and security specialists were quick to disagree about the security threat the group represents.

"We have expressed our concern loudly that we are acutely aware that ISIS is a menace, especially that their ideology of violence using Islam is unacceptable for Muslims in Indonesia," Hasyim Muzadi, former Nahdlatul Ulama board chairman, told Khabar.

Sri Yunanto, a National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) analyst, said Indonesia has an obvious historical reason for exercising extreme caution with ISIS.

"Back in the 1980s, we had many young Indonesian Muslims traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan to support mujahids to conduct jihad against Soviet occupation," he told Khabar.

"Many of them have returned and are still likely in touch with the notorious al-Qaeda. Some of them also formed new organizations."

ISIS flags have been recovered at sites of various terrorist arrests this year, Sri said. "That is why for Indonesia, the emergence of ISIS is déjà vu," he added.

The government and community should work together against ISIS, South Jakarta cleric Ahmad Syaiffudin Marti said.

"Religious leaders must be aware of this ideology," he told Khabar. "If you find people preaching about it, you should not hesitate to report this to the authorities."

More importantly, Muslim students and parents need be aware of wrongful preaching and recruitment during prayers or over the internet, he added.

Paramadina University of Jakarta political observer Hendri Padley warned that ISIS has potential to grow in Indonesia.

"Information is being spread freely without maturity digesting that information," he said.

"Secondly, with a limited knowledge of religion, many Indonesians (Muslims) want to do good, but sometimes their interpretation is not correct."

Reader Comments
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    • cecepN
      October 27, 2014 @ 08:10:01PM
    • They mean well, to establish an Islamic country. But ultimately, they carry out slaughter and vengeance. There is no support from the countries of the world.
    • abdu
      October 24, 2014 @ 07:10:13PM
    • Islam is always being backed into a corner.
    • Ali Dos
      October 22, 2014 @ 04:10:10PM
    • Al-Qaeda and ISIS are radical Islamic groups that emerged as a result of the double standard politics applied by the Western World. And, the atrocities committed by ISIS in the battlefield is understandable because they are also being brutally killed and abused by their enemies.
    • jono
      October 17, 2014 @ 10:10:35AM
    • Is ISIS a part of the Islamic religion?
    • joni jontor
      October 17, 2014 @ 02:10:00AM
    • People who hate ISIS, would your comments be the same if Muslim minorities were being oppressed by infidels and heretics? We hate ISIS for its mistakes, not its people. We are all brothers and sisters, think.
    • jemih
      October 15, 2014 @ 10:10:00AM
    • Anis Matta is a part of ISIS, beware.
    • ramadhan taher
      October 14, 2014 @ 11:10:44PM
    • Why can't we be thankful for what we have on this world? Allah is all loving and compassionate so why aren't we? Why must we choose the paths that are not blessed by God, because it is not in the laws laid out in the Qur'an and Sunnah which clearly give peace and serenity of the heart.
    • neni
      October 14, 2014 @ 08:10:47PM
    • Every time there is crime or terrorism, people always bring Muslims into it when Islam never teaches violence or terrorism. Think of all our brothers and sisters who are minorities overseas and always being treated unfairly. Why is that?
    • dewi
      October 14, 2014 @ 07:10:01PM
    • What annoys me is why terrorists would commit their acts of terror in the name of Islam, such as ISIS. This makes Islam look bad in the eyes of the world.
    • ferdimunabuturlaode
      October 14, 2014 @ 01:10:01AM
    • What is the true goal of ISIS?
    • poerwohadi
      October 13, 2014 @ 09:10:36PM
    • We must save the young generation from this movement. The state together with the people must protect this generation.
    • poerwohadi
      October 13, 2014 @ 09:10:25PM
    • It is true that we should be wary of this movement as early as possible so that our young generation do not get caught up in this movement.
    • agogo
      October 13, 2014 @ 08:10:52PM
    • Because Sunni Muslims in Syria are being oppressed by the Shia Muslim majority.
    • jeckky jekson
      October 12, 2014 @ 04:10:31AM
    • Terrorist groups will flourish if the unfettered power grabbing politics happen. The indication that this will happen in Indonesia is that it is infiltrating through a coalition that is forcing its will.
    • alexleo
      October 11, 2014 @ 11:10:10PM
    • Yes, it is very clear. Islam does not teach violence.
    • mujahid
      October 11, 2014 @ 10:10:34AM
    • Only secular people hate ISIS.
    • masduki
      October 11, 2014 @ 01:10:41AM
    • Yes.
    • moadin
      October 5, 2014 @ 10:10:15AM
    • Good.

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