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SBY: Indonesia may ban al Qaeda linked group JAKARTA - Indonesia will outlaw an al Qaeda-linked group blamed for deadly bombings in Southeast Asia if its existence can be proved and if its members are involved in terrorist activities, the new president said. In an interview with Time magazine, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would review steps being taken to deal with terrorism and with the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group.
This review would include Islamic boarding schools suspected of having terror ties, he said. His cautious comments on Jemaah Islamiah may disappoint Western governments, who have no doubt about the network's presence in the world's most populous Muslim nation and who want the former general to confront terrorism head on. "After the review, if there are explanations and proof that JI as an organisation does exist in Indonesia, and if it is legally proven that its members are involved in terrorist activities, then it will be declared a banned organisation," said Yudhoyono, who made fighting terror a campaign priority.
Yudhoyono gave no details on how Jemaah Islamiah's existance would be proven, and whether it would require a court ruling. His comments come two days before a militant cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, faces trial on charges of leading Jemaah Islamiah and involvement in the 2002 Bali blasts that killed 202 people and a strike at a luxury Jakarta hotel last year that killed 12. Western countries and the United Nations have listed Jemaah Islamiah as a terrorist organisation. Banning the group would make it easier for Indonesia to make arrests and stem funding.
But the previous government, in which Yudhoyono was chief security minister until early this year, treaded carefully around the issue for fear of offending mainstream Muslims, partly because the term Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesian means Islamic community. While Islamic groups have grown increasingly outraged at bomb attacks and accepted they are being carried out by Indonesians, memories also remain fresh of the persecution of Muslim leaders and activists by former President Suharto during 32 years of military-backed rule that ended in 1998.
Officials have also kept a hands-off approach to several conservative Islamic boarding schools, where some convicted bombers have studied and radical views are propagated. Yudhoyono made clear the issue was sensitive. "This will require communication and the right approach so that law enforcement will not be misunderstood as the government doing something that is unfair toward certain individuals or religious schools," Yudhoyono said.
A number of Indonesian Jemaah Islamiah members have been convicted over the Bali bombings, but courts then did not make a point of trying to prove the existence of Jemaah Islamiah, which wants to set up an austere Islamic state across Muslim areas of Southeast Asia. There has always been a radical Islamic fringe in Indonesia, which grew in strength after Suharto fell in 1998. Most Indonesian Muslims are moderate.



Posted in Politics @ 26 October 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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