I have long argued that it is myopic to think that the problem we face is limited to Al-Qaeda, or that the Islamic jihad ideology is newly minted. Here, the leadership of the Indonesian jihadist group Jemaah Islamiyah boasts that it is older than Al-Qaeda. “Terror campaign started 50 years before bin Laden,” from China’s People’s Daily, :
Before he was sentenced to death last year for orchestrating the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002, Mukhlas Imron boasted of his friendship with Osama bin Laden but fiercely denied that al-Qaida had played any role in the attacks.
From the dock of an Indonesian court, the 43-year-old religious teacher insisted this was a homegrown operation by Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which, he said, was capable of staging more atrocities.
The baby-faced Mukhlas ranted at the judges about JI’s ambition to create a single, fundamentalist Islamic state in Southeast Asia which would embrace Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines and have a population of more than 400 million.
The leadership of JI has long argued that its campaign began more than 50 years ago, long before the world had heard of bin Laden. The leaders claim that al-Qaida copied their blueprint for a terror network, pointing out that bin Laden picked the brains of some JI veterans, who fought Soviet occupation in Afghanistan and were persuaded to join his terror camps.
Close ties still exist, but while al-Qaida concentrates its rhetoric and attacks on America and its Western allies, the focus for JI and its associates is targets closer to home. The weekend’s bombings were, experts say, JI’s way of proving it remains a danger to governments in its own region and that it does not need al-Qaida’s money or its inspiration to operate….
Islam was first a rallying cry for resistance in Indonesia against Dutch colonization in the early 17th century, though the modern roots of JI go back to the end of World War II when the Darul Islam movement incited a rebellion to end European rule and establish an independent Muslim state.
Two clerics, Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Bashir, JI’s present spiritual leader, revived the Darul Islam movement around 1969. They began modestly enough with a pirate radio station preaching to the poor and a boarding school set up in Java by the charismatic Bashir. He chose as a school motto, “Death in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration.”