Tracking how terrorists regroup in Indonesia

Recent court testimony provides more examples of the ways terror outfits recruit new members and strengthen their networks.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

December 05, 2013
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Separiano, alias Mambo, said he learned how to make bombs on the Internet – and bought material to do so with money donated at an Islamic study group, or Majelis Taklim.

  • Separiano, a suspect in a plot to bomb the Burmese Embassy in Jakarta, speaks during the first day of his trial in Jakarta on November 6th. He told the court he used money donated during an Islamic study group (Majelis Taklim) to buy explosives. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]

    Separiano, a suspect in a plot to bomb the Burmese Embassy in Jakarta, speaks during the first day of his trial in Jakarta on November 6th. He told the court he used money donated during an Islamic study group (Majelis Taklim) to buy explosives. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]

Mambo was a deputy leader of Majelis Taklim in Tanah Abang, he told a Jakarta court on November 18th, during his trial as a suspect in a May 2013 plot to bomb the embassy of Burma.

He bought explosive materials in small quantities "to prevent any suspicion," The Jakarta Post quoted him as saying. And he used the taklim sessions as a way to connect with other radicals.

His case underlines to authorities some of the ways individuals inclined to militancy find one another, reinforce their misguided beliefs, raise money and plot their actions.

"Taklim is one of the sources of recruiting," terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail told Khabar Southeast Asia. It is one of four ways terrorists strengthen their networks, he said.

"First, and maybe this is the most common, they are regrouping through internet forums including social networks," he said. "Marriages among radical Muslims are considered another way.

"Third, religious teachings or taklim; [fourth], prisons and visitations in prisons," he explained.

On screens and behind bars

Via social media, Mambo found others who wanted to "help" Burma's Rohingya Muslims by committing acts of terrorism. Among them, according to prosecutors, was Sigit Indrajit, a 23-year-old herbal product seller and member of Islamic State of Indonesia (NII).

"Sigit was connected to Separiano through Facebook," terrorism expert Wawan Purwanto said.

"Funding, connections and attacks are the three components of terrorism in Indonesia," he said.

The connections are also made in prison. Terrorists or radicals often return to their groups or engage in retaliatory attacks after serving several years in prison, he said.

"Recruitment and radicalism in prison is something that our authorities can address," Wawan said.

Militancy and marriage

Marriage among radicals or terrorists is also a strategy for strengthening militant organisations.

The sister of former Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) commander Nasir Abas was married to one of three main Bali bombers, Ali Gufron. Udin, a JI member in Medan, married the widow of one of the CIMB Niagara robbers.

But limiting regrouping through marriage is a major challenge, according to Yudha Pramudia, a University of Indonesia graduate student in security studies.

"Many radicals use marriages to strengthen their organizations. Marriages can also contribute to building cross-country and cross-region relations among radicalism," he said.

"The problem is stopping the marriages, even if the police are aware of the motives. It is very personal; the state and religion will not oppose it."

The true nature of Islam

Tangerang, West Java cleric Fakhrudin Rahmat agreed that curbing terrorist regrouping through taklim, marriage, and the internet is difficult.

"Our region is relatively close to the capital, Jakarta. Many radicals benefit from the access to technology, which has allowed them to assemble bombs and to reconnect with their groups or other groups. West Java is also popular with Muslims for religious taklim," he told Khabar.

"Muslim leaders must be aware of the possibility that taklim is conducted by radicals. This is the hardest part; taklim and marriages are untouchable by the government."

Youth need to be embraced by their community, and educated about the true nature of Islam, he added.

"We only can see any behavior change when they are close to us. Therefore, education in school, through family, and in the neighborhood is important. It will help our youth to understand why terrorism and jihad by killing others is wrong in Islam," he said.

Reader Comments
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    • buyungpratama
      December 18, 2013 @ 07:12:03PM
    • Terrorists are actually good because their purpose is to eradicate depravity. The Indonesian government is unable to to deal with places of debauchery and some members of government knowingly protect and permit these depraved places like nude karaoke bars which are categorized as a place of depravity. There is also another reason why places of debauchery cannot or are difficult to eradicate: because the people involved collude with officials that support those places. The second reason is that law enforcement is too weak and can be bought with money in Indonesia. The law only seems to benefit the rich/elite who are free to do anything. If only the law can be upheld regardless of rank and office, whoever errs must be punished even if it is the president. God willing Indonesia will progress.
    • david valentino
      December 15, 2013 @ 10:12:22PM
    • I think the government of Indonesia needs to be proactive in helping the Rohingya people in Burma by actively lobbying the Burmese government to be open towards the Rohingya tribe. Especially since Indonesia is a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. We should not stand idle.
    • YUNITA
      December 12, 2013 @ 07:12:13PM
    • Jihad on the path of Allah, show the world that we are truly a religion blessed by Allah. Islam is a religion full of love. The Prophet died while never stopped thinking about how we have forgotten what He fought for. The Prophet never hated other religions; what he taught was tolerance. Peace is beautiful, togetherness is beautiful. We should be thankful that we were born, we are living and, God willing, we will die in a truly exalted religion, Islam. Subhanallah Walhamdulillah wala ila ha illaullah allahu akbar!!!!!
    • Mahmud Yunus
      December 9, 2013 @ 06:12:49PM
    • Any Indonesian, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or race can engage in radical acts when their aspirations are not channelled, compounded by studies from other ideologies. The solution is dialogue, beginning with getting rid of hatred. Differences will exist but what we must build is the spirit of tolerance. The MUI should carry out its duties, the MUI needs to be neutral. The MUI is like the president, once they have been entrusted with a duty they must set aside all party and group interests. It is a shame that millions of Indonesian youths with great potential die in vain. If they participate in development, this country might have progressed. Religious leaders should engage in dialogues within and between religions, build tolerance, honor the founders of this country and remember that independence was not given for free. Why must we kill in developing this country, the method of radicals. Do not ask for US or Australian aid but conduct dialogues. Those who remain resistant should be jailed like in Buru Island and other islands.
    • muhammad
      December 9, 2013 @ 07:12:56AM
    • What is their true purpose? If there are other ideals, why not speak out? Don't they realize that they were born, eat, drink, and grew up in a peaceful land? The are able to receive education in this country so that they have come to know the internet, networks, and even made bombs. Why then would they adopt radical Islamic thinking, or whatever it was. Living peacefully is nicer, safe and quiet. To law enforcement bodies, it is alright if they are caught and need to be killed because all they think about is how to cause more casualties. To the terrorists, you maintain the pretense of piety, wearing veils, but you are rotten. Thank you.
    • nia damayanti
      December 8, 2013 @ 07:12:32AM
    • I really love or have affection for the Islamic religion. I love you, Islam.
    • syafrullah
      December 14, 2013 @ 08:12:55AM
    • Me too, ha ha ha.
    • syafrullah
      December 7, 2013 @ 08:12:38AM
    • Sorry, the simple way of seeing it is that Indonesia's certificate is in question because the kings of Majapahit, the sultanates and the nine leaders along with their descendants were tricked, deceived and slandered in all their forms. It started with the dissolution of the sultanates, which were Islamic kingdoms, and the replacements of our cultural roots by those who acted on behalf of religion but were in fact the destroyers of Islam, issuing a statement as a foundation for the nation to the detriment of observant Muslims. The statement was "our country is unique, it is not religious and it is not secular", even people who did not attend school would know that this cannot be taken seriously. The majority religion is slowly being crippled and the minorities are able to insult them by saying "you are selfish", throwing rocks and hiding their hands, spreading slander everywhere. Minorities are benefiting. After the independence we should have deferred to the ways of the sultanates which had nobles who fought for Allah in Demak, Tidore, Ternate, Aceh, etc. Kingdoms were leveled when they would not cooperate with the invaders and people were arrested by the Dutch when called on to engage in guerrilla warfare by General Sudirman. This was when the deal was made to not make Indonesia an Islamic country, why was it done in 1908 and 1905 when the Islamic Trade Union was already in politics. Sorry, but after the independence the people buried their faces in vaginas and breasts on the street and places of entertainment. Their faces are white with the milk of depravity and covered in slime and their religion will eventually deteriorate just like their principles. Also, there seems to be a crusade going on because many officials in the Special Detachment are Christians.
    • kusriyadi
      December 7, 2013 @ 07:12:26AM
    • Those who are considered terrorists by the government for their actions and conduct were doing so based on what principle? Why is it being considered jihad? I actually admire their courage and honesty, they don't beat around the bush (during interrogation).
    • ryan danu
      December 5, 2013 @ 07:12:29AM
    • Better to prevent than to eradicate.

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