ABC AUSTRALIA, 31/01/2003 17:28:00
INDONESIA: Laskar Jihad head found not guilty of inciting
31/01/2003 17:28:00 | Asia Pacific Programs
An Indonesian court has acquitted the former head of a powerful Islamic militia over
charges he incited violence during bloody Muslim-Christian fighting in the Maluku
islands. Jaafar Umar Thalib has also been found NOT guilty of inciting hatred against
the government and defaming President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Thalib, head of the
notorious Laskar Jihad militia, is the first radical Islamic leader to face an Indonesian
court since President Sukarnputri took power 18 months ago. But now questions are
being raised as to just how serious Jakarta is in tackling Islamic militancy.
NANERE: Umar Thalib is a criminal, he has a very close link with al-Qaeda, so he's a
very important person, according to me.
LOPRESTI: Is it your view that he did incite violence in the Malukus?
NANERE: Yes, yes there is a lot of proof here, a lot of proof that he really did a lot of
LOPRESTI: Why do you think the court has handed down this decision?
NANERE: That is really a question mark. You see, after the tragedy in Bali suddenly
Laskar Jihad they all withdraw. That is for us a question mark. Why is that? For such
a long time they let this Laskar Jihad operate here in Maluku and then suddenly when
the Bali tragedy happened and then Laskar Jihad withdrew, and at that time the
announcement mentioned that they were already liquidated. It's a question mark. It is
a really a very close relationship between this Laskar Jihad with military.
LOPRESTI: So the verdict is not surprising then given that it's been claimed that the
Indonesian military and the police gave support to Laskar Jihad?
NANERE: It is not surprising, it's not surprising. According to me it's very important
that international (monitors) come and inspect, do their inspections here in Maluku
because all their roots will be found here in Maluku. Now everything is only superficial,
and according to me including in Bali, because we don't get the roots of the problem.
LOPRESTI: Is it your view then that today's case will give rise to Islamic militancy, not
just in the Malukus, but also in the rest of Indonesia?
NANERE: Yes, yes it is not only Maluku. But the Malukus, if you come and make
more detailed investigation in Maluku, you will find really the root of the problem. Who
is behind all these things.
LOPRESTI: Are you saying that Laskar Jihad is also behind the Bali bombings?
NANERE: Oh yes, oh yes.
LOPRESTI: Do you view this decision as a setback for Jakarta's attempts to tackle
Islamic militancy and to fight terrorism?
NANERE: For me it is only because of the international press, international press.
But in my opinion it is still a question mark, they're not serious, they are not serious.
If the military here in Maluku were not here anymore, that will be good.
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31/01/2003 17:28:00 | ABC Radio Australia News
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