Anti-Communist Islamist Recruits for Lebanon Conflict in South Asia

AKI reports from Indonesia:

Some 200 Islamist extremists mostly from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand have enrolled to fight against Israel in the Middle East, a top official of a radical Indonesian Muslim organisation said Thursday. The Islamic Youth Movement’s Suaib Didu, told Adnkronos International (AKI) that he was aware of 217 jihadists who were traveling to the Middle East…The group includes 72 Indonesians, 57 Filipinos, 36 Malaysians, 43 Thais, five militants from Brunei, three from Bangladesh and one from Singapore.

…”We don’t want their jihad to be used later to damage the name of Islam,” he said adding that the militant’s objective was to bomb Israeli and American targets around the world.

Didu explained his motivation further in the Jakarta Post:

He said the militants, who were inspired by his book entitled Radikalisme: Antara Jihad dan Terorisme (Radicalism: Between Jihad and Terrorism), came to him to ask for guidance about jihad.

“I told them it was better to go to Palestine and Lebanon to fight Israel than to stir things up here,” he said. “I also told them not to attack civilians in their jihad, especially women and children because they are innocent.”

Indonesia Matters adds an extra detail:

Suaib Didu claims that three of his men are not Muslims, but men who believe they are fighting for a humanitarian cause, and, Suaib Didu added, Jerusalem is a holy city not just for Muslims.

Didu previously raised forces to fight the US in Afghanistan and Iraq; in 2001, he claimed that around three hundred Indonesians had gone to assist the Taliban, and before the invasion of Iraq, Time reported that he “claims to have thousands of volunteers ready to go to war if the U.S. attacks Iraq”.

However, Didu is also interested in the home front, and he had a warning for any dissenters in the run-up to the attack on Afghanistan:

A hardline Muslim youth group warned on Thursday anyone backing Washington’s self-declared war on terrorism should leave Indonesia, or risk being forced out. The Islamic Youth Movement (GPI), which claims hundreds of its followers have signed up for a possible war against the United States, said it would be dangerous for any U.S. supporters to stay in the world’s largest Muslim nation after a possible strike against Islamic Afghanistan. “We will evacuate anyone who supports the U.S. aggression against Afghanistan… regardless of his nationality. This even applies for Indonesians,” GPI chairman Suaib Didu told Reuters. Hundreds of hardline Muslims at the weekend raided hotels in search for Americans and have warned them to leave the country. Didu said his group was planning similar action against citizens of U.S. allies, not to scare foreigners but as a preventive security measure. “After the revenge strike, there will be high passions and these people will certainly be targets. So, before anything happens, we want to escort them to the airport for their own safety. They can return when things calm down,” he said. Asked what would his group do if they cannot persuade people to leave, Didu said: “We love peace. We will not use any coercion. But if they refuse, they have to bear the risks.”

In this instance Didu failed to follow through, but the same gangsterish clichés were in evidence in 2003, when the Islamist rabble-rouser produced an anti-war petition which foreigners were “encouraged” to sign. The Syndey Morning Herald reported:

Today police questioned Suaib Didu, leader of the radical Islamic Youth Movement (GPI) whose members allegedly harassed foreigners during an anti-war rally on March 24, group spokesman Adang Hidayat said.

Police have arrested 10 GPI members for allegedly trying to force foreigners to sign a document condemning the US invasion of Iraq.

Police accuse Didu of threatening others with violence, but it is not clear if he will be detained further, Hidayat said. Police could not be reached for comment.

Hidayat said the arrested GPI members had only requested the foreigners to join a poll on whether they were for or against the war on Iraq.

“Maybe our boys were so enthusiastic that the foreigners got scared,” Hidayat told AFP.

Didu also had a warning for US interests in the country:

“For the U.S. installations here, we will want them to shut down. We will try to take over these places. For McDonald’s and KFC we want them to halt operations”

US capitalism, though, is just one enemy; pre-9/11 he was more interested in railing against “communists” (i.e. anyone vaguely left-wing) for the shocking crime of publishing books. This was reported in May 2001:

Gramedia, the country’s largest bookstore chain, is removing books on communism from its shelves in response to threats from anticommunist groups who threatened to raid the stores and burn the books.

The controversy surrounding the sale of books on communism, Marxism and Leninism was sparked by a recent rally by the Islam Youth Movement  (GPI), during which the demonstrators burned books on Karl Marx.

The group, a member of the Anti-Communist Coalition, has said it will raid major bookstores in the capital on May 20 to commemorate National Awakening Day.

“All of our people, around 36,000 in Greater Jakarta, will move on that day to show our commitment to fight against communism,” GPI chairman H.M. Suaib Didu said.

When asked if his group would raid the bookstores even if the titles they objected to had already been removed from the shelves, Suaib said: “We’ll go to the publishers and demand they stop the production (of these books).”

The activities of the Anti-Communist Coalition (or the “Aliansi Anti-Komunis”) were also discussed in the Australian Financial Review, which describes it as a group that “brings together Moslem and nationalist groups agitating for a return to more authoritarian government”. Among works targeted were writings by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the country’s best-known author and political prisoner under Suharto, and associates of the former US-backed dictator loom large in the coalition. Targeted bookshops were offered little support; one Marxist website joins the dots:

Especially when attacking the Left, those organisations collaborate openly with the police and army. We have here a curious concurrence. On the one hand fundamentalism is targeted by the state for acts of terrorism against the public order. On the other hand fundamentalism is supported by the state as a force of terror against the working class and socialism. Muslim extremism is an essential instrument in the counter-revolution.

If the promised bombing “of Israeli and American targets around the world” actually materialises, it may be worth remembering what these supposed champions of suffering Lebanese civilians actually stand for.


Variations: Palestine Jihad Bombing Force, Palestine Jihad Bombing Troops, Suaib Dido

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