The Jakarta Post, January 24, 2002
Laskar Jihad differs with al-Qaeda
Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta
Laskar Jihad, or the Jihad Force of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah Communication
Forum to give it its full name, has claimed that it supports any government efforts to
clamp down on the global al-Qaeda terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden.
It argued that al-Qaeda terrorists had practiced bid'ah, something not recognized in
Islamic teaching, by adopting terrorism as a means of achieving their goals.
Laskar Jihad commander Ja'far Umar Thalib asserted that his organization could not
accept the principles of and the way in which al-Qaeda operated and, therefore, it
could not be in any way linked with the group.
Ja'far, nevertheless, acknowledged that he met with Osama, the world's most wanted
man, in Pesawar, Pakistan, in 1987, and had the chance to have a discussion with
Ja'far claimed he has never met Osama since then.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post at his home in Degolan village, some 13 kilometers
north of Yogyakarta, Ja'far said that al-Qaeda was quite reactionary, especially
against governments that were hostile to Islam.
Al-Qaeda, according to Ja'far, also adhered to the so-called khawarij principles that
justified terrorism as a means of achieving its goals.
Al-Qaeda people would also quickly label other Muslims outside their circle as kafir
"We, of course, do not like that. We are obliged to conduct a scientific evaluation
before considering someone, or other groups, as kafir. We definitely don't consider
other Muslims outside our group as kafir," Ja'far said, adding that his group held the
public interest and public order in high esteem.
Laskar Jihad, which has been sending its fighters to conflict areas such as Maluku
and Poso, Central Sulawesi, is one of three organizations in Indonesia considered by
many to have links with al Qaeda.
The other two are the Indonesian Mujahideen Council and the Jemaah Islamiyah.
Speaking to the Post earlier, Mujahideen chief Abu Bakar Baashir denied that his
group had any links with al-Qaeda.
Ja'far also contended that the linking of his group with the international network
responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was
"We are just a traditional group. We have nothing but prayers and our zeal. There's no
way that we would have the capability of undertaking such expensive actions," he
Ja'far also said that although his group was strongly against the U.S. government, the
group was not against Americans.
"It's simply not right. Muslims are not allowed to display hatred against a particular
ethnic group. What we are allowed to do is to express our rejection of a government's
political policy," he said.
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