A report coming out of Indonesia says terrorist groups in the island nation are regrouping, but they are keeping the bull’s-eye on the country’s Christians.
The International Crisis Group says that because of police intervention, the jihadis are mobile and reorganizing “on the run.”
But Christian human rights group International Christian Concern’s Southeast Asia analyst, Ryan Morgan, says government actions have made little difference, citing a “urine attack.”
That attack in May involved a Muslim mob throwing plastic bags of urine and feces at members of the Batak Christian Churches in Bekasi, Indonesia.
“The Indonesian government seems indifferent to the rise in religious intolerance. Only a few days after the urine attack, the religious affairs minister for the country, Suryadhama Ali, claimed that Indonesia was ‘the most tolerant country in a world,’” Morgan said.
Morgan said there’s no in-depth information on the level of penetration of the Indonesian government by jihadi groups, but he says the number of violent incidents is increasing.
“I can tell you that we’ve seen a rash of incidents carried out in recent months by radical groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front against Christian churches,” Morgan said.
Morgan also cites a mid-June incident.
At that time, “an Indonesian official in Aceh, the same region where a huge terror cell was busted in 2010, ordered 20 Christian churches to be torn down by the congregations themselves,” Morgan said.
“So far the Christians have mostly ignored the order as far as we can tell, but we also have a report that one of the churches in Aceh was attacked by a large angry mob during its Sunday service,” Morgan said.
Morgan says his sources believe they know the influence behind the persecution.
“We think this kind of religious intolerance is directly linked to the same extremist Islamic ideology espoused by terrorist organizations such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid, the group that has apparently replaced them,” Morgan said.
A former CIA station chief who asked not to be identified says the situation in Indonesia is repeated in other predominantly Muslim countries.
“It’s the same as every Muslim majority country: Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, etc.,” he said.
He added that the altruistic efforts of the colonial powers have been undermined.
“No matter how secular the leadership tries to be, or what ‘Western forms’ of government the former colonial powers put in place, the infiltration of ‘true believers’ in the society and government always undermines any counter-terrorism or counter-jihad effort,” the station chief said.
He said Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts will be limited.
“Indonesia, which has not tried very hard anyway, will never wipe out the jihadists,” he said.
Morgan isn’t sure of the how and when the jihadis will “regroup,” but he’s sure of their intended target.
“If history is any indicator then we can expect Westerners and Christians to be among their targets,” Morgan said.