Ali Fauzi: from terrorism to true Islam

A former bomb-maker and weapons smuggler is now an ambassador of peace.

By Andhika Bhakti and Elisabeth Oktofani for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

July 11, 2013
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Ali Fauzi once taught people to make bombs. Today, he is one of the few former militants who now devotes himself to telling the public about the harm terrorism inflicts.

  • Ali Fauzi (centre) talks to fellow worshippers in the Baitul Muttaqin mosque in Tenggulun, West Java on November 7th, 2008. [Adek Berry/AFP]

    Ali Fauzi (centre) talks to fellow worshippers in the Baitul Muttaqin mosque in Tenggulun, West Java on November 7th, 2008. [Adek Berry/AFP]

In April and May, he accompanied Ansyaad Mbai, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) to several cities, speaking freely about his past and explaining how terrorism defiles Islam.

Detonating bombs in public places kills many innocent people, including children, he explained. Terrorist networks steal money to purchase bomb-making materials. Worst of all, he said, they don't take responsibility for their attacks, leaving other people to be accused.

"You can't be secretive. There has to be a leader who takes responsibility," he said at a BNPT event in Balikpapan, Kalimantan, according to a Jawa Pos News Network (JPNN) report.

Roving jihadi

The 42-year-old native of Lamongan, East Java is the youngest brother of Amrozi and Ali Ghufron, both convicted and executed for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and injured hundreds.

From 1994 to 2006, Ali Fauzi was a roving jihadi, joining the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Southern Philippines, and Muslim-Christian violence in Ambon and Poso.

In 1998-1999, he was an instructor at a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant camp in East Java, where he taught nearly 250 people about how to make bombs.

"Back then I was an instructor for a field engineering class at an East Java training camp. I taught them about chemical materials and firing devices for bomb making," he told Khabar Southeast Asia.

From 1999-2002, in Ambon and in Poso, he became a field co-ordinator for Crisis Management and Prevention Committee (KOMPAK), a JI-linked group with humanitarian aims.

During this time, he began to sour on JI, realising its doctrine was not consistent with Sharia Islam, since it permitted violence against civilians.

"I really never agreed with any jihads involving attacking/bombing churches in conflict areas, exploding nightclubs in Bali or hotels in Jakarta," he explained.

He called many of those violent acts a "wrong jihad."

"Many wrong jihads would kill innocent people. It also created a bad image for Muslims. Additionally, it is not a jihad because Indonesia is not a jihad ground," he added.

Smuggling weapons

Ali described how easy it was for him and his comrades to move weapons around the region to supply Muslims fighting Christians in Ambon and Poso.

He said he dressed as a migrant worker to cross to Sabah in eastern Malaysia, using a fishing boat in the dark. "You don't need a passport. I didn't carry one. For the security, it is really hard to confirm your ID and your face in the dark," he told Khabar.

"We packed the guns into large backpacks and travelled on fishing boats or petrol tankers heading for Indonesia from the Philippines," he added.

"The route from Sabah to Southern Philippines is a favourite route for many militant fighters in Southeast Asia. It is the same route used by Indonesian militants to escape the country," BNPT chief Ansyaad told Khabar. He said a regional approach among Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines is needed to address the problem.

Many friends, many perspectives

Ali was active with the MILF from 2003-2006. But since then, he has lived a life of peace, and made friends with many different people.

"I have many friends, who are Christian, Hindu, and Chinese. I am cool with them. All we need is to respect each other," he said.

A father of five, Ali is active in farming and teaching. He serves as a lecturer at The School of Tarbiyah at Muhammadiyah University and at Al Islam boarding school, both in Lamongan, East Java.

He teaches on the need for unity among followers of Islam. According to him, Islam accommodates many different perspectives. "It needs to be understood that different views in Islam have existed for a very long time and cannot be avoided," he said.

"Therefore, we need to respect each other's point of view...If we cannot do so, that is the root of radicalism," Ali explained.

He emphasised his faith in Islam will never fade. Although he rejects radicalism and terrorist acts, he says he is still a "mujahid" who defends Islam through dakwah (missionary work) and preaching.

True defender of Islam

Ali's story has inspired many people. Precisely because of the years he spent on the wrong path, he has credibility in pointing out the right one.

"I wish in the future that there will be more people like Ali Fauzi – someone who decides to do jihad in a good way by using his personal experience when he was a member of JI," said Hanung Wicaksono, a Muslim cleric in West Jakarta.

"We need more people like Ali, who is now defending Islam in a good way," he added.

"I was reading a recent profile in the media about Ali Fauzi. I am pretty amazed with his experiences, and I am glad he decided to convert from a trainer in militant camps to an educator. It is a good change," said Bambang Setiyono, a 23-year-old in Tangerang, Jakarta.

Indonesia needs more people like Fauzi to "help the Indonesian government tackle terrorism and to be good examples for those who value jihad in the wrong way," Bambang said.

"He is now an ambassador of peace."

Reader Comments
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    • gogoso
      November 2, 2013 @ 12:11:01PM
    • I once learned how to make bombs from Ustad Ali Fauzi. He should publish his argument for his tolerance towards BNPT. What is his reason? I do not believe yet that terrorists consist of only Muslims; did you know that when Muslims were being slaughtered, 15 people defended their faith. When the authorities came they did nothing to help but came after the 15 Muslims when there were more or less 3000 non-Muslims. I do not trust the authorities to this day!
    • Abdul Wahid
      October 15, 2013 @ 10:10:18PM
    • It is better to be a former criminal than a former Islamic cleric.
    • Taminsari
      October 13, 2013 @ 07:10:46AM
    • Whatever action, none is better than diplomacy, This could avoid innocent from being kill and generate patient in heart, maybe it demand more time but naturally problem are resolve in a much more better ways. Alongside rise a better stability and harmony to the world of Islam. The creator has given us solution of solving our problem but we ignored, we are ordered to strengthen our economy part of the purpose are too married more than 1 and have as many children as possible. At the same time you accomplish your mission with wisdom.
    • syafrullah
      October 9, 2013 @ 01:10:28PM
    • I'm sorry, the jihad of today is trying to restore Islam which was destroyed by the Portuguese, Dutch, and others in the sultanate eras of Demak, Tidore, Ternate, etc. People who claim to be Muslims in the name of tolerance, human rights and democracy are pawning off their own religion because Islam itself is complete. Example: tolerance that does not pawn off religion can be seen during the Majapahit reign when the leaders were Buddhists and Hindus, right up until the sultanate and Walisongo era when Islam took leadership. Islam was very tolerant towards other religions but the tolerance of today is different from what it was and now considers all religions to be equal when there should be one, Islam, that is confident to shine as it did in history. It should be forthright even if many consider it to be selfish and disgraced even by Muslims and other religions. Elect a leader who is approved by Allah, who is truthful, trustworthy, forthright, and intelligent, and so too are their descendants. Hopefully Allah shows the way. Amen.
    • Efo adelbert
      October 6, 2013 @ 01:10:04PM
    • Concerning terrorism, whatever become of regions in South Sumatra, like Bengkulu, Lubuk Linggau, Tebing Tinggi, dan Lahat. Criminal activity in these areas are terrifying. Even robberies happen almost daily. I am at a loss as to why the authorities bow down and would rather hang about in coffee shops than take care of the people's welfare. Lahat October 7, 2013
    • boneng
      October 10, 2013 @ 02:10:13PM
    • Why bother capturing criminals, you're risking your life. You'd better just drink coffee, the worst thing that can happen is coughing it up.
      October 4, 2013 @ 06:10:53AM
    • If I am not mistaken, in Islam jihad means to fight the infidels, not fellow Muslims. We should not be so quick to say that we are the most pure, Allah knows better. I hope that this country will never again see bloodshed. Thank you.
    • karno BJ
      October 1, 2013 @ 01:10:19AM
    • I am proud to see that he could change.
    • abu zaidan
      September 29, 2013 @ 05:09:10AM
    • The final destination is death while spreading the word and jihad are the vehicles that get us there?
    • *heri pras
      September 27, 2013 @ 06:09:26PM
    • Do not damage Islam with this brand of jihad. Do jihad the right way.
    • saikul
      September 27, 2013 @ 09:09:20AM
    • Oh my.
    • Dedy
      September 23, 2013 @ 10:09:39AM
    • Jihad does not mean killing/injuring innocent people.
    • Boiem
      September 22, 2013 @ 03:09:40PM
    • You're crazy.
    • Haryanto
      September 22, 2013 @ 01:09:51AM
    • Okay, bro. Keep going, become a most exalted creature.
    • muhamad doni saputra
      September 18, 2013 @ 09:09:57AM
    • Wow!
    • Farelah
      September 14, 2013 @ 01:09:56AM
    • While it's hot.
    • kiki joe
      September 10, 2013 @ 01:09:55AM
    • You haven't repented unless you have returned to the ways of the Salaf, friend.
    • Santy
      September 16, 2013 @ 04:09:56AM
    • Should not be repeated again. . .
    • Winda alpusma(EMPERO)
      September 5, 2013 @ 09:09:02AM
    • Through online news we will broaden our horizons.
    • Ir_sad
      September 5, 2013 @ 06:09:40AM
    • Reading this article has made us proud. Thank you!
    • Aan
      September 18, 2013 @ 02:09:49AM
    • Bombers must be steady and accurate when aiming when they act, that is, at the heart, with words and attributes that are in tune. Hopefully this will pave the way for guidance to rain down on those affected by heart-changing events. Amen.
    • Ir_sad
      September 5, 2013 @ 06:09:02AM
    • From we who have read this article, thank you!
    • hamdi mizad
      August 30, 2013 @ 08:08:12AM
    • I hope that he will be able to inspire others so that they are aware of what they have done. I wish him success!
    • Asepgunawan
      August 29, 2013 @ 06:08:48PM
    • I want to become a diligent person and not a criminal.
    • feri iswoyo
      August 28, 2013 @ 09:08:07AM
    • Great.
    • samsuardiwan
      August 27, 2013 @ 10:08:09PM
    • You can sell stolen cars and use the money for dating.
    • [email protected]
      August 27, 2013 @ 09:08:27AM
    • Brother Ali, I would like to give support however I can.
    • yuanita
      August 24, 2013 @ 11:08:34PM
    • Calm down, calm down.
    • tyax
      August 20, 2013 @ 05:08:11AM
    • Yes, if you want to change, then change and be a better person.
    • Adelberg agee rinaldo
      August 17, 2013 @ 03:08:36AM
    • Congratulations.
    • goris
      August 15, 2013 @ 12:08:07PM
    • Mas Ali, I presume that you and your friends in the radicalist groupe were brainwashed with the believe that turned into faith that only islam the only way to enter heaven. Help the world to save the muslim women and children in the whole midle east and north africa who are terirized by the muslims.
    • almahmut
      August 15, 2013 @ 02:08:32AM
    • Continue the jihad for the Islamic religion and bring the depraved to the righteous path.
    • [email protected]
      August 21, 2013 @ 06:08:38AM
    • Stupid.
    • julyan
      October 2, 2013 @ 07:10:20AM
    • Mind what you say, brother. Okay?
    • ucx
      August 12, 2013 @ 01:08:46AM
    • From the older brothers to the younger one, they all became terrorists. Hopefully he has truly repented and not because his brothers have been executed. Thank goodness you have repented.
    • iwan
      August 11, 2013 @ 02:08:47AM
    • yes!
    • ahmad
      August 10, 2013 @ 09:08:20PM
    • Long live FPI.
    • Mute
      August 10, 2013 @ 02:08:37AM
    • You don't know what you're talking about.
    • solikhin annur
      August 9, 2013 @ 10:08:57AM
    • Jihad within oneself begins from the tips of our hair to the tips of our feet. Not hurting others is more important.
    • iskandar agus
      August 9, 2013 @ 09:08:28AM
    • This is a lesson for others who have become terrorists.
    • Anymose
      August 9, 2013 @ 09:08:22AM
    • Because terrorists are wrong; most terrorists commit suicide by detonating bombs. This is clearly an act of suicide and it is forbidden by the Islamic religion. Good for them!
    • Tafa
      August 9, 2013 @ 12:08:35AM
    • That is the power of Allah. He can change His followers in an instant.
    • ebes andy
      August 5, 2013 @ 02:08:37AM
    • It is good to realize one's mistakes and repent unto Allah willingly and to have faith before death comes for us.
    • shalamcoboy
      August 3, 2013 @ 06:08:12AM
    • This is good then. With Ali Fauzi's change of heart, hopefully young people in East Java can follow suit, right?
    • Bert A Siagian
      August 1, 2013 @ 02:08:28PM
    • Very good, bro. If possible, work together with our country to create weapons so that our country is not left behind by western countries when it comes to advanced weaponry.
    • Nadia
      September 23, 2013 @ 01:09:00PM
    • I like it
    • Ione Banse
      July 31, 2013 @ 05:07:37PM
    • Continue your jihad, Ali Fauzi, with Allah's blessing.
    • Ione Banse
      July 31, 2013 @ 03:07:44PM
    • With true jihad, God willing, there will be more support from all of society, specifically Muslims themselves.
    • erwin saputra
      July 31, 2013 @ 03:07:51AM
    • I hope that irresponsible, thuggish organizations don't sprout in East Java.
    • panweliss
      July 30, 2013 @ 10:07:11PM
    • Gas.
    • Arya ramadhany
      July 30, 2013 @ 08:07:25AM
    • Good evening.
    • zulmuamar
      July 27, 2013 @ 12:07:31PM
    • I like it when I socialize with people who committed crimes but ultimately come to their senses on their own like Ali Fauzi.
    • Rioardana
      July 26, 2013 @ 09:07:50AM
    • Bad.
    • aditya pratama
      July 21, 2013 @ 02:07:40AM
    • Let this be a lesson for teachers in the future.
    • M BAHRI
      July 17, 2013 @ 04:07:05AM
    • I hope that this online news can help make East Java better.
    • Ashari
      July 16, 2013 @ 04:07:18AM
    • Just okay, with his valuable experience, he would be able to do good things for all of us.

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