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  ICG analyses Al-Qaeda links in Indonesia
The Case of the “Ngruki network”

Jakarta/Brussels, 8 August 2002: Indonesia is not a terrorist hotbed. In the world’s largest Muslim country, proponents of radical Islam remain a small minority, and most of these are devout practitioners who would never dream of using violence. Only one network of militant Muslims has produced all the Indonesian nationals so far suspected of links to al-Qaeda. However even a tiny group of people can cause an immense amount of damage. In a new briefing published today, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: The case of the “Ngruki Network” in Indonesia, the International Crisis Group analyses the “Ngruki network”, named after the village in Central Java where a religious boarding school at the hub of the network is located.

The briefing explains how the network emerged, its historical antecedents and the political dynamics that led some of its members from Indonesia to Malaysia to Afghanistan. ICG also warns that current international pressure on Indonesia to carry out preventive arrests of suspects without hard evidence could be seriously counterproductive.

The Ngruki network has its roots in the late 1970s when Indonesian intelligence operatives embarked on an operation to expose potential enemies of then President Soeharto from the Muslim right. In the 1980s Ngruki drew in additional members, many of whom had served time in prison for anti-government activities. Its goal is to establish a state based on Islamic law, but it was radicalised by the Soeharto government’s policies. In the 1990s many leading figures fled to Malaysia – which at the time was a meeting place for Muslim guerrillas of all kinds.

ICG Indonesia Program Director Sidney Jones said: “The problem is that the Ngruki network is far wider than the handful of people who have been accused of ties to al-Qaeda and includes individuals with well-established political legitimacy for having defied the Soeharto government. Repression gave birth to the network and carrying out arrests without sufficient evidence could produce anew generation of radicals”.

The challenge both for the Indonesian government and the international community is to be alert to the possibility of individuals making common cause with international criminals without taking steps that will undermine Indonesia’s fragile democratic institutions.

Sidney Jones said: “Indonesia has a highly politicised national intelligence agency and law enforcement institutions. Its courts are weak and corrupt. International pressure could lead once again to the arbitrary arrests and detentions that characterised the Soeharto years – and that could turn its targets into heroes who receive substantial political and financial support”.

Katy Cronin (London) + – email: [email protected]

Ana Caprile (Brussels) +32-(0)2-536.00.70 – Jennifer Leonard (Washington) +1-202-408 8012

All ICG reports are available on our website www.crisisweb.org


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