Indonesia and Ba’asyir, the Preacher of Hate
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES
|Abu Bakar Ba’asyir|
The nation of Indonesia is blighted by Islamists who desire to destroy moderate versions of Islam because militants desire to install a new society based on dhimmitude and Islamic supremacy. Therefore, Islamic clerics like Abu Bakar Ba’asyir support the implementation of Islamic Sharia law and his attitude towards non-Muslims is one of hatred when the rhetoric flows.
Abu Bakar Ba’asyir was born in 1938 and he is a leading Islamic cleric in Indonesia and many Muslims view his opinions greatly. However, it must be stressed that Muslim opinion varies greatly in Indonesia and this applies to hardliners and moderates who support the notion of a secular state.
Yet according to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir it is essential that Indonesia is ruled by Islamic Sharia law and he openly glorifies Islamic jihad during bouts of militancy. Therefore, the government of Indonesia is in a flux about how to deal with him and over the decades he was either threatened by authorities in Indonesia or tolerated.
Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Abdullah Sungkar opened a boarding school in 1972 in order to preach to the next generation about the need to implement Islamic Sharia law in Indonesia. In time both individuals would flee to Malaysia because the Suharto regime was in no mood to bow down to Islamists and Suharto was bent on economic modernization and authoritarian control over the whole of Indonesia.
In 1999 Abu Bakar Ba’asyir returned to Indonesia, however, both he and Abdullah Sungkar gained from their exile in Malaysia because they met leading Islamists and they both understood the need for a collective approach in order to spread Islamic rule.
Therefore, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Abdullah Sungkar were involved with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which was a lose patchwork of various radical Islamic organizations. The main goal was to create a super-Islamic state which would incorporate Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Philippines, Brunei, and Singapore (some would also include southern Thailand and Cambodia).
The vastness of this region and the mass complexity is a wonder to behold, however, in the wrong hands it could become a nightmare. After all, you have a very diverse mix of ethnic and religious groups and you already have religious bouts of violence between Christians and Muslims in parts of Indonesia and the southern Philippines. More recently, tensions have erupted between Muslims and Buddhists in southern Thailand and passions often run high in Malaysia which is the most diverse nation in the region when it comes to religion.
Therefore the views of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir can’t be ignored or brushed aside so easily because JI have been involved in many terrorist attacks and have been involved in communal violence against Christians in Poso in Indonesia and other areas alongside other groups like Laskar Jihad. Also, more alarming, he often plays around with words and distances himself when needed and just like Islamic terrorist organizations like Laskar Jihad, he/they can melt away from the scene and then come back either through a new organization or a new upsurge in militancy.
Walid Phares, author of “The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy” and other books, stated “We all know that the process to become a Jihadist, is long and tenuous. It needs a Salafi-Wahabi environment to be produced. The question in Indonesia is this: Who is producing the “ideological culture” out of which Jama’ah Islamiah came from? What are the structural webs that produced Laskar Mujahidin (or Laskar e Jihad), or Laskar Jundullah or even the Sulawesi-based Mujahedeen KOMPAK?”
However, the geographical reality of the entire region follows the complexity of ethnicity and religious diversity. Added to this is rampant poverty, cronyism, mismanagement of resources, and vastly different development stages and political infrastructures. Therefore, Islamists have many angles to manipulate and spread their message and you have links between jihadists and senior officials even if these links are on the periphery or based on manipulation by national governments.
Therefore, Walid Phares sums up this complexity by stating that “…the Jihadi “Laskars” around the archipelago are projecting themselves as the “protectors” of the territorial unity of “Muslim Indonesia.” Hence their action against non-Muslims, including in Poso, the Celebes, etc is projected as “in the interest of the nation.” They are trying to emulate Hassan Turabi’s strategy in Sudan: the defense of Islam’s lands.”
Given this, JI moved easily between supporting Muslims during communal violence against Christians in Maluku and Poso in Indonesia; and then to targeting economic and Western interests throughout the region. At the same time you have inter-links between JI, al-Qaeda, MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic organizations.
JI have been responsible for many deadly deeds and this applies to killing 15 people in 2000 after an attack against the Jakarta Stock Exchange and killing many during Christmas Eve bombings during the same year in Indonesia. They have also spread their terror to the Philippines with several attacks and an attack was thwarted in Singapore. The most deadly attack happened in 2002 with the Bali bombings and more recently two hotels were attacked in Jakarta in 2009.
Returning back to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir he stated in 2002 that “If non-believers have weapons capacity, the funding, then they will go to war against Islam. In the Koran Allah has said they will always wage war against you, they will always attack you as long as they have the capacity.” He further stated that “The government of Indonesia right now is being directed by America to service its needs and the primary need of America is to bury Islam particularly in Indonesia.”
He continues by stating that “…Hence our religion Islam, our nation and our country is currently being threatened by foreign races with all manner of libels, with the bombings in Bali, with explosions everywhere, all of those are the plots of non-believers whose aims are to weaken and profane the believers of Islam.”
Therefore, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir is somehow trying to claim that the Bali bombings were done by non-Muslims and this is similar to the September 11th conspiracy theory. However, this is clearly ridiculous and Osama Bin Laden and other brutal killers are proud of ordering the killings of many innocents and many Islamists have either been caught or were found dead at the carnage they inflicted on others.
These statements can be found on page 166 and 167 of Zachary Abuza’s book called Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, Crucible of Terror. Zachary Abuza also states that “Although Abu Bakar Ba’asyir was named by both Malaysia and Singapore as a prime suspect and a leader of Jemaah Islamiya network, he continued to live and preach openly until October 2002.” He also told Zachary Abuza personally that “I am not a member of Al-Qaida, but I really respect the struggle of Osama Bin Laden, who has bravely represented the world’s Muslims in their fight against the arrogant United States of America and their allies.”
Yet what logic can be found in these words by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir? After all, Al-Qaida and the Taliban were involved in the massacres of thousands of Shia Muslims in Afghanistan. This was followed by countless numbers of terrorist attacks against Shia Muslims and other non-Sunni’s in Iraq; and of course innocent Sunni Muslims have been killed by radical Sunni Islamists.
Yet in the paranoid world of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir he blames non-Muslims for doing terrorist attacks, despite clear evidence that they were done by Islamists. Then he praises Osama Bin Laden who ordered the killings of thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims, after all, according to the theories of Osama Bin Laden then killing innocents in cold blood is justified and a religious Muslim duty.
Amazingly, some Muslims and converts to Islam are still being brainwashed and manipulated by people like Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. He and Osama Bin Laden glorify religious martyrdom but then hide either behind words and the manipulation of language, in the case of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir; or when applied to Osama Bin Laden, then he just hides but orders other people of hate to kill in the name of Islam.
Islamic radicalism is a serious threat and you have so many conflicts involving Muslims, irrespective if internal Muslim wars or against non-Muslims. Alternatively, you have so many terrorist threats and religious persecution of non-Muslims in mainly Muslim nations is a daily reality. Therefore, this issue is not only serious and of major importance but it is also a nightmare.
The reason it is a nightmare is because the current jihad is in reality the same jihad that Mohammed started in the 7th century. However, unlike the old jihad, Islamists have a free reign to propagate their war throughout all societies because of the liberal nature of many non-Muslim societies.
Therefore, religious leaders like Abu Bakar Ba’asyir are dangerous but you have many hidden leaders keeping quiet but with the same aim, however, they desire the same aim but by being more astute and obtaining Islamization by stealth.
LEE JAY WALKER