Indonesia: Terrorists and Freedom Fighters

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country and the backing of its new President was an important early victory for America’s coalition. But that support rapidly came under severe strain from radical Islamic groups which themselves are accused of taking part in state terror.

The World Today
Published 1 November 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 4 minute READ

Damien Kingsbury

Senior Lecturer, International Development, Deakin University, Australia

Lesley Mcculloch

Research Associate, Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College, London

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, a three-tiered Indonesian reaction could be clearly identified. First the official government response by President Megawati Sukarnoputri pledging full support for America; second a more cautious line from moderate Muslim groups who urged restraint, and third the declarations by those for whom the ‘war’ against the US was justified. Since the beginning of US-led bombings against Kabul and other ‘strategic’ targets, the official response has become more muted.

A key committee of the House of Representatives has issued a statement condemning the US attacks and urging the government to do likewise. In addition, the influential religious body, the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) has made similar demands.

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