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Indonesia and Transnational Terrorism

NCJ Number
Chris Wilson
Date Published
October 2001
12 pages
This paper reviews Indonesian Islamist organizations, examines the present Islamic organizations and terrorist groups operating from or within Indonesia and the threat posed by Al Qaeda and other transnational extremist organizations.
Indonesia is the world’s largest Islamic country with 170 to 180 million Muslims. Some Indonesian Islamist organizations are seen as having connections with transnational terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda headed by Osama bin Laden. An overview of the Indonesian Islamist organizations is briefly presented. The vast majority of Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam. One of the major threats posed by Indonesian radical Islamist groups may be the Indonesian Government itself. There has been concern that an increasing Islamic militancy in Southeast Asia is creating a large pool of recruits for transnational terrorist networks. In addition, Indonesian students studying at the Islamic religious schools of Pakistan and elsewhere are being exposed at increased numbers to the same radical teachings as the Taliban. There are also claims of links between Indonesian groups and Southeast Asian terrorist and/or separatist organizations. The Indonesian Government has a narrow path to tread in protecting Indonesia from terrorist activity and ensuring the country is not used by terrorist networks as a sanctuary and preventing the spillover of radicalism from Islamic organizations to moderate Indonesian Muslims.