Jemaah Islamiyah is an extremist group committed to creating an Islamist state comprising Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the southern Philippines. In support of its goals, Jemaah Islamiyah, or Islamic Group, has engaged in numerous acts of terrorism. The overwhelming majority of Muslims in southeast Asia reject this extremist group’s activities.
The United Nations Security Council recently put Jemaah Islamiyah on its list of international terrorist organizations subject to sanctions. The action came at the request of the United States, Australia, Indonesia, and many other countries. The European Union has also declared Jemaah Islamiyah to be a terrorist group.
Concerns about Jemaah Islamiyah increased in the wake of the October 12th bombings in Bali, Indonesia. Nearly two-hundred people died in those bombings, the world’s worst act of terrorism since the al-Qaida attacks on the U.S. on September 11th, 2001. As the investigation continues, evidence is reportedly mounting that Jemaah Islamiyah was involved in the Bali bombings. Moreover, Jemaah Islamiyah members recently arrested in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have confirmed suspected links to al-Qaida.
The leader of Jemaah Islamiyah is Abu Bakar Bashir [AH-boo BAH-kahr BAH-SHEER], a Muslim cleric who runs a school in Solo, Indonesia. The school encourages Islamic extremism in the same way as the madrassas that produced the former Taleban in Afghanistan. And Mr. Bashir himself is an open admirer of Osama bin Laden, head of the terrorist al-Qaida. Mr. Bashir was recently arrested by Indonesian authorities in connection with a number of bombings of Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas eve 2000. Eighteen people were killed and fifty wounded.
Also being sought for the Christmas eve bombings in Indonesia is Riduan Isamuddin [RID-wahn is-ah-MOO-din], known as Hambali [HAHM-bah-lee]. He is believed to be the head of Jemaah Islamiyah’s terrorist operations. He has been linked to terrorist plots in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
As the Bali bombings and other attacks in southeast Asia have shown, terrorism threatens democratic institutions and economic prospects. “The front lines of terrorism are everywhere,” said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. “The world’s response to these heinous crimes must be comprehensive, and steadfast.”