29 September 2009

The Jakarta Bombings and Democracy...

The death of Noordin M Top provided the Indonesian National Police with a wealth of information and data apparently. During the shootout which saw Top finally topped, the police managed to recover a laptop that supposedly belonged to Top.

The police have today said that the laptop contained a number of videos. One of these videos was supposedly shot on 21 June 2009, about three weeks prior to the bombing, and shows the bombers, Dwi Permana and Nana Ikhwan Maulana, having a meeting that is being described as a picnic by some, in the vacant lot opposite the JW Marriott hotel and not far from the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The video is allegedly shot by Saifuddin Jaelani. The video zooms in on Nana pointing to the hotels and saying, "this is our target". It is being reported that Jaelani's voice can be heard saying, "destroy America, destroy Australia, destroy Indonesia".

The video then cuts to Dani saying, "this is not suicide, this is what our enemies fear!" Dani then goes on to say, "this is an obligation for all, those who do not execute this obligation are sinners." Remember, Dani is just a youngster at 18 years of age. If Top and his jihadis could convince an 18-year-old to become a suicide bomber, then it is fair to say that they are a sophisticated and dedicated organization.

If anyone thinks that the death of Top puts an end to the scourge of terrorism in Indonesia they just do not understand the nature of the beast, or the mindset of those, who will go to any lengths to create a world in their own warped version of what they think God intended it to be. There might be a lull, but this is likely to be a lull before the storm. The laptop, according to police, also indicates that Top's band of jihadist warriors were well-organized, well-equipped, well-supported, and had recently re-established links with other terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda.

Apparently, the laptop also includes a letter that Jaelani wrote to his family accusing Americans and Australians of "slaughtering his brothers". This explains the earlier comment, but may also go to show why the James Castle Breakfast gathering was targeted in the JW Marriott. It would seem a pretty good target for a terrorist trying to make a statement about American and Australian involvement in activities that a terrorist considers to be an insult to Islam and an affront to his Muslim brothers.

But, perhaps most terrifying for Indonesia and Indonesians is that Top and his band have decided to target Indonesia and Indonesian interests and the Indonesian government because of its efforts to promote democracy. This begs the question, when one considers, and in spite of the teething problems, the majority of Indonesians would consider more open government and greater democracy a step in the right direction.

It would seem that the more fundamental interpretation of Islam adopted by Top and Jaelani runs counter to what the great majority of Indonesian Muslims believe with respect to democracy.

Perhaps, the drive to democracy will be the trigger that invigorates moderate Muslims to oppose the radical or fundamental elements that seek to destroy rather than build on Indonesia's potential for greatness.

Viva Indonesia and Viva Democracy!


H. Nizam said...

Terrorism can exists because of widespread poverty, injustice and weak law enforcement.
If those reasons can be eliminated or at least minimized there is a chance to eliminate terrorism.

Rob Baiton said...


Partly it does. But, let's assume the video shows as it alleges Dwi saying things like "this is an obligation" and the like.

I have not seen the video but have noticed some still captures floating around this morning purportedly taken from the video.

Then it is not all just about poverty and injustice. It might be, in this particular case, a very fundamental interpretation of the faith. The idea that later Suras abrogate earlier ones and that violent jihad is permitted.

I accept that this is open to debate. I am merely saying, irrespective of whether it is a widespread believe or not, this might not be as simple as saying terrorism exists only because of poverty, injustice, and weak law enforcement.

Pramudya A. Oktavinanda said...

I have to agree with you Rob. While it is true that poverty and injustice may support terrorism, we cannot neglect the fact that some kind of brainwashing techniques were used here. You've seen my post on this issue before.

You know, I add a person in my FB account as a friend knowing that he is a part of Hizbut Tahrir (this is an Islamic organization which believes that the implementation of Shari'a and the establishment of the new Caliphate will solve all of the world problem).

A quite friendly organization since they also believe that no actual jihad (specifically in the form of war or aggresive action) should be made unless the Islamic caliphate has been established, thus until the time comes, they will focus on spreading the words only (i.e. dakwah).

However, as friendly as it may be, I still have some concerns with them. This organization always claims that democracy is bad since it permits the establishment of man-made laws, which is unacceptable for them who believe in the absolute law of the God.

The guy's postings show it all. I accept his friend invitation because I consider his postings as funny and silly. I was an avid reader of Sabili too (a fundamental Islamic magazine), simply for laughing at their silly ideas.

But the danger is still there. These guys don't believe in democracy, they see it as a product of the Westerners. So we gotta do something, maybe remind them that it is because of democracy and free speech that they have the access to promote their thoughts.

Rob Baiton said...


The question is whether the Caliphate that is being talked about here as a problem solver is a Caliphate of 6th Century origins or 21st Century origins.

The Prophet certainly had some issues to confront at the time, and in spite of arguments that the essence of these problems remain the same, the problems of today are considerably different.

It is worth exploring that idea. Under the authoritarian rule of Soeharto, the debate over more fundamental Islam was suppressed, not just stifled. However, with the increasing freedom of expression and speech that has developed since 1998, these individuals advocating across the board Sharia law and a Caliphate have been given the room to express their ideas.

So, in many ways democracy is providing them a platform on which if they are successful will allow them to crush any future democracy in the name of the Caliphate.


Pramudya A. Oktavinanda said...

Rob, don't expect too much on them. They are still using the concept used hundred of years ago.

And yes, it is true that it is the power of democracy that allow these crazy thoughts to exist in Indonesia. During the Suharto era, even a man like Abu Bakar Baa'syir was forced to leave Indonesia. And ye, he came back after the fall of Suharto, claiming that democracy is evil. What an irony.

Rob Baiton said...


I was thinking of using the word irony too, but it just seemed like it was something more than ironic. Ironic just seemed to me to be an understatement of the situation.

Yes, democracy is evil, but it certainly lets individuals like ABB call westerners maggots, and snakes, and the scum of the earth. So, you would think, that he would think democracy is not all bad, right?

Pramudya A. Oktavinanda said...

Hahaha, you might not be surprised that he leaves the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia because he thinks that they are being too democratic.

Rob Baiton said...


Not surprised!

I was still in Indonesia, I think, when he left.