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Laskar Jihad Muslim militia disbanded JAKARTA - Laskar Jihad, a Muslim militia group that has sent members to help Muslims battle Christians in the Maluku islands and elsewhere has disbanded and begun withdrawing from the strife-torn region, Wirawan Adnan, the group's lawyer, said on Tuesday. "Laskar Jihad disbanded last week," Wirawan Adnan told AFP."We deem that its existence is no longer needed since the government has realized that separatism exists in Maluku," he said.
However, Metro TV reported that the withdrawal of Laskar Jihad was based on a fatwa (legal advice) issued by a Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Rubi ibn Hadi. Tha fatwa said that their mission in Maluku was finished. The lawyer said militiamen began leaving Ambon, the capital of the Malukus, on Tuesday, but he did not provide a number. Antara news agency reported the number of Laskar Jihad members in the area was more than 1,200.
Antara reported that thousands of local Muslims in Ambon saw hundreds of Laskar Jihad members off at the Yos Sudarso Port aboard the KM Doloronda, a commercial ship owned by PT Pelni state shipping company. Their departure was accompanied by crying, sobbing and shouts of "Allah Akbar" (God is Great). The Maluku Police chief, Brig. Gen. Soenarko, and his officers monitored their departure.
PT Pelni gave a 10 percent discount on the tickets, normally priced Rp 450,000 (US$48.38), for each member making the Ambon to Jakarta voyage. The Maluku provincial administration said it did not finance the departure and knew nothing about their return to Jakarta. "What the provincial administration knows is that Laskar Jihad left at their own initiative and PT Pelni sold them discounted tickets.
The US State Department terrorism report last year, as quoted by AFP, said Laskar Jihad "remained a concern at year's end as a continuing source of domestic instability". Laskar Jihad leader Ja'far Umar Thalib has denied media suggestions of links between his group and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
He admits to having met bin Laden while both were fighting Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, but described the al-Qaeda chief as "devoid of Islamic knowledge". Thalib, in a recorded speech broadcast by the militia radio in Ambon, declared late Monday that the Ambon command had been disbanded. The group's main offices in Jakarta and Yogyakarta in Central Java were apparently closed on Tuesday with no one answering the phones.



Posted in Maluku conflict @ 15 October 2002 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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