Indonesia’s approach to homegrown Islamic thug groups like the Islamic Defenders Front is noticeably more flexible than its dealings with groups with international connections. In particular, there seems to be no sense of urgency as long as “Islamic vigilantism” restricts its targets to Christians and Ahmadis. But evidence is accumulating that feeding that proverbial crocodile will not keep the peace in the long run, but only create a stronger challenge to the authority of the government that will indeed come back to bite them.
“Indonesia’s Islamic vigilantes ‘turning to terrorism’,” from the Times Online (Sri Lanka), January 26 (thanks to all who sent this in):
JAKARTA, Jan 26, 2012 (AFP) – Tolerance of Islamic vigilantism is helping to breed a new generation of terrorists in Indonesia, the International Crisis Group warned in a report Thursday.
The report criticised the government and police for lax law enforcement against hardliners, who often claim responsibility for violent anti-vice and sectarian attacks but regularly evade punishment.
“Indonesia: From Vigilantism to Terrorism in Cirebon” described how a group of poor uneducated men in the western Javanese town went from using sticks and stones in morality raids to using bombs and guns.
“What we saw in Cirebon was a a group of about 10 people who started out on a path to terrorism by participating in anti-vice campaigns,” ICG analyst Sidney Jones told AFP.
“By using violence in these campaigns, they clearly violated the law but weren’t punished.” The group went from carrying out anti-vice attacks on TV stations and convenience stores selling alcohol to orchestrating suicide attacks on a police mosque and a church on Java island.
The attacks last year killed only the bombers themselves, but injured scores of others with nails, nuts and bolts spraying from homemade explosives.
“The government’s saving grace is that the groups that have embarked on this path are poorly trained with very low capacity, but it won’t always stay that w
The radicalisation of the Cirebon group was fuelled by weekly sermons where spiritual leaders encouraged the bloodshed of Islam’s enemies, which have come to include the Indonesian government and police, the report said.
The threat of vigilantes turning to terrorism follows an effective decade-long crackdown on the country’s most notorious networks, such as the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, it added….