200 Indonesian Jihad Bombers Threaten Israel

(Jakarta, Indonesia) Reportedly, in the last several days over 3,000 Indonesian volunteers have signed up to be jihad warriors.


A group of 200 men calling themselves members of the “Jihad Bombers Force” (PBJ) in Pontianak, capital of Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, are ready to leave for Palestine and Lebanon to paralyze Israeli vital facilities if the latter fails to abide by a 4-days deadline.  

“We give Israel 4-days deadline as of now to stop its military aggression against Palestine and Lebanon. If this ultimatum is ignored, we will not be responsible for the 200 voluntary jihad bombers who are going to leave for the two Middle Eastern countries,” Antara news agency quoted Indonesian Human Rights spokesman Suib Didu as saying in Pontianak on Saturday.

He said the jihad bombers would not only launch attacks in Palestine and Lebanon but also in countries allied with Israel.

PBJ, eh? I guess they blow themselves up, stick to the roof and leave a sweet aftertaste. No mention as to whether the jihadists are smooth or crunchy.  

Levity aside, even though the threat cannot be ignored, the likelihood of the PBJ acting soon seems minimal.


But it was unlikely the men could actually leave their hometowns in Indonesia’s Kalimantan province as they said they had no money, leader, guns or passports.

They sound like they’re homeless and singing the blues. Nonetheless, over 3,000 young Islamists have registered on a list to fight against Israel. Hopefully, that list is accessible for review, if necessary.  

One last thing. The ChiCom house organ, Xinhua, states that Suib Didu is a human rights spokesman but fails to mention that he’s the former chairman of the Islamic Youth Movement. Trying to put a human rights face on jihad bombers is insulting.

Companion post at Interested-Participant.

September 21, 2006

Indonesia: Christians Executed For “Massacre” Of Muslims


Left to right – Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, Dominggus da Silva, 42

The three Christians who have been fighting against their death sentence, which was handed down in April 2001, after a trial which owed little to justice and more to appeasing Muslim activists, have been executed, states and the Jakarta Post. The three, Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, were accused of being behind the massacre of Muslims in Poso in Central Sulawesi province in May 2000. The trial, which we described earlier had been unsatisfactory by normal judicial standards.

The three men, all Catholics, were natives of East Nusa Tenggara, a province which lies directly south of Sulawesi island. Many Christians had fled here from the violence meted out by the Islamists of Lashkar Jihad during the Moluccan War.

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu came to Poso in Sulawesi in 2000, after hearing reports of a church being burned. They entered the area where violence was raging to evacuate children from a church-led school in the village of Moengko, Poso City. A Muslim mob came to the church on May 23, 2000 and burned the church down. The children and the three men escaped before the building was razed.

Irwanto Hasan, who was a member of the Poso Police Intelligence Division, stated that days later he and the three men had been recruited into the “Red Group” a militant Christian outfit. Hasan said they had acted to dissuade the Red Group from acts of violence.

Amnesty International stated that their trial, held at Palu District Court, did not “meet international standards of fairness. In particular, there are concerns that witness testimony provided as evidence by the defence may have been ignored by the Court when giving its verdict.

There were also reports that armed demonstrators were protesting outside the courthouse, demanding the conviction of the three men. Amnesty International is concerned that this intimidation may have affected the outcome of the trial.”

Appeals had been made for clemency for the three men by the European Union, by US senators, Jubilee Foundation and Amnesty International, Indonesia’s Bishops Conference (KWI) and by Pope Benedict XVI. None of these were listened to by Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has never reprieved anyone given a death sentence.

The three men had been scheduled to be shot by firing squad on August 12, but the execution was delayed, lest it interfere with Indonesia’s Independence Day festivities. They appealed against the death sentence at the end of August, but the government insisted on the execution going ahead. Roy Rening, lawyer for one of the three men, said their second appeal was made “because their trials were full of fabrications.”

On August 14, chief security minister Widodo Adi Sucipto said: “We are currently in the phase of executing the court ruling. The execution will still be carried out.” Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda later said: “The execution has not been canceled, just delayed. We did receive letters from various quarters, including the one from the Vatican, although I didn’t see it personally.”

When an execution takes place, little warning is given, and the news of the executions being completed came several hours after their bodies were sent for autopsy.

Asia Times states that the Palu prosecutor’s office denied the three men the right to attend mass before the execution, and also denied them the right to have a chapel of rest in Palu cathedral, as they had asked.

Antara News states that the families of the men were not informed of the imminent execution earlier today. Rev. Rinaldy Damanik, Synod chairman of the Central Sulawesi Christian Church, said: “As of 10.30 a.m. local time, neither has the GKST Synod nor Tibo et al`s families received official information about their execution.”

Tibo`s eldest son, Robertus Tibo had been contacted by the reverend Damanik and had confirmed that no news of the execution had come. Robert Bala Keitimu, a lawyer for one of the men, also said the families had not been informed of the imminent execution. Rev Damanik said that it would be illegal to execute anyone without informing their families prior to the event.

Keitimu said that the case should be reopened, as the names of 16 individuals, who are believed to have done the killings for which the men were executed, are now known. He suggested the government wanted to cover up the truth behind the Poso riots.

There were protests yesterday on the island of Batam against the imminent executions, with more taking place in Belu district of Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara province, at which thousands attended. 10,000 people gathered in the square from 8 am, and then marched to the Atambua prosecutor’s office, where many prayed.

The denial of the men’s last requests was confirmed by Antara News. Father Jemmy Tumbelaka, religious counsel for the three men, met with Agus Setiawan, from the execution team. Tibo had asked for their bodies to be allowed to lie in St Mary Church for one day. That was refused.

Tibo and Marinus had also asked that their bodies be buried in Beteleme village, Mori Atas subdistrict, Morowali district, while Dominggus wanted his body returned to his family in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara province, for burial there.  

The convicts also asked that their execution be witnesed by Joseph Suwathan (bishop of Manado, N Sulawesi), Father Jemmy Tumbelaka (for the St Theresia parish in Poso), Father Melky Toreh (for the Si Marry parish in Palu) and Roy Rening (lawyer for Tibo and his associates).

Their fourth request was that they be allowed to convey a special message to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono through mass media on many people`s rejection of their execution.

All of these requests were denied by Prosecutor Agus Setiawan of the prosecutors’ office of Palu.


Yesterday, Dave McRae, of the Australian National University. wrote in the Jakarta Post;

In the Tibo case, protests in Poso itself for and against executing the three men have largely been polarized along religious lines, aggravating old enmities from the conflict. If the executions do go ahead, it could start a cycle of public demands for the death penalty, again playing upon the same religious enmities.  

Nor should it be thought that executing Tibo, Dominggus and Marinus will address demands from Poso’s Muslim community for justice. Demands will rightly continue for other unsolved cases to be investigated, and those implicated in violence to be brought to trial.

Two particular incidents that Muslims see as symbolic of injustice are the May 2000 Walisongo massacre — in which around 100 Muslims were killed — and July 2001 Buyung Katedo killings — in which fourteen Muslims were murdered. The way to satisfy demands for justice is to systematically investigate unsolved cases, including these two incidents, not to use executions as a band-aid solution.

Earlier today, the Jakarta Post wrote that this afternoon, the condemned men did manage to meet their relatives and a priest, and called for further investigations to be made.


Extra security was installed in Central Sulawesi. Today, Indonesia deployed some 2,000 police and soldiers in Palu, some guarding churches that dot the city.

Their deaths were later confirmed by lawyer Roy Rening, who said: “They have been executed. Their bodies are now undergoing an autopsy at the police hospital.” He refused to be present at the executions, and did not agree to protest the state’s rejection of the three men’s final requests.

The exact time of the executions seems to havve happened around midnight local time, while rain drizzled throughout the night.

Human rights groups have highlighted that the sectarian violence in Poso affected both sides, Christians and Muslim. While some Muslims have been found guilty of involvement in the bloodshed, none of these were sentenced to death. The maximum penalty for these individuals was a 15 year sentence.

And the real mastermind of the sectarian violence which engulfed Sulawesi and the Moluccas got off scot-free. The violence in Poso was part of a larger war, initiated by the Islamist Umar Jaffar Thalib and his army of Muslims, the Lashkar Jihad. This group was apparently set up with the approval of the then government in 1999. The war they created, the Moluccan War, cost the lives of 9,000 people between 1999 and 2002.

Thalib himself personally ordered the massacre at Soya village, a Christian enclave near Ambon city, which took place Sunday April 28, 2002. At least 21 people died. Small children and women were hacked at with machetes and decapitated, and men beaten to death with staves, beheaded, and burned alive in their homes. Jaffar Umar Thalib was put on trial in 2003, charged with “sowing hate”. He was acquitted.

Justice for Christians in Indonesia is just an illusion, a mirage. The mirage is fading, and the judicial killing of three almost certainly innocent Catholics is a further sign that no-one in authority is even bothering to maintain the illusion.


Indonesia: The Roots Of Muslim & Christian Conflict On Poso

Special Report

Poso MapToday, an interview with a Muslim leader in Poso is related in AKI . The Muslim, Adnan Arsal, has blamed the police in the province of Central Sulawesi for a recent rise in sectarian violence. On October 16, a Protestant priest, Rev. Irianto Kongkoli, was shot in the nape of the neck as he bought ceramic tiles from a shop in Palu, the provincial capital.

In Poso city, on the coast, there has been violence since Monday night. The unrest apparently started when police were attacked by an armed group while they were on patrol. In the ensuing violence, a young Muslim was killed. According to Reuters India, the group who attacked the police patrol were armed with automatic weapons, home-made pipe bombs and stones. Apart from the Muslim youth who died, three people were injured in the clash, including one police officer.

Arsal’s verion of events is different. He claims that 700 police officers had “invaded” the city with no reason given, and they were terrorizing the citizens. Arsal stated to AKI that: “The police continue to threaten Muslims but they never bother the Christians even if, sometimes, they are the ones responsible for burning cars. It seems like the police are protecting the Christians.”

There are grave doubts about the credibility of Arsal’s version of the current events. As well as being historically involved in sectarian conflict on Poso, he has been instrumental in creating the current climate of distrust between the two communities, which I will describe later.

Whatever the origins of the current conflict, it is serious enough for the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to request the home ministry to gather as much information as possible on the situation in Poso, to find out the root cause. Antara News reports that M. Ma’ruf, the home affairs minister, said: “The presidents wants us to solve the Poso problem peacefully. Of course, we have to reevaluate the real cause of the recent incidents.”

Ma’ruf has said that he will be consulting with the police, as well as community and religious leaders. “The dialogs will be conducted to inventorize the real causes of the problem,” he said.

The Eklesia Church on Pulau Seram street, Gebangrejo village in Poso, was set on fire early this morning, before 1 am. Though the blaze was brought under control within less than two hours, the interior of the church was gutted. The same church was recently the target of a home-made bomb, which was detonated outside the building on September 30, according to Antara News. Two other bombs occurred shortly after the attempt to bomb the church, with one happening in Poso’s fish market, and another at a bus station in the city. Where explosives had then failed, arson has now succeeded.

One of the two largest Muslim groups in Indonesia is the Muhammadiya. It is relatively moderate. Antara reports that Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of this group, has claimed today that Muslim mass organizations were wanting the vice president, Jusuf Kalla, to intervene and initiate a peace process.

In December 2001, Kalla, who was then Indonesia’s coordinating minister for people’s welfare managed to get the main protagonists and sectarian leaders from Poso to gather at Malino in South Sulawesi, to sign a peace pact. This agreement is called the Malino Accord.

Din Syamsuddin met Jusuf Kalla last night, and said afterwards: “The other day in Malino he was successful. Now, we want the Vice President to do it again…. Vice President Jusuf Kalla on behalf of the government should take immediate action to deal with the conflict in Poso.”

Syamsuddin said the government should act swiftly to quell the Poso violence, and claimed that Muhammadiya would give Kalla’s peace proposals its fullest support.

Adnan Arsal (pictured below left) was one of those who signed the Malino Accord under Kalla’s gaze. He had been the leader of the Komite Perjuangan Muslim Poso ( KPMP or Committee for the Islamic Struggle in Poso).

However, last year, four Christian girls were attacked as they walked to school in a rural district at Poso on October 29. Three of the girls – Ida Yarni Sambue (15), Theresia Morangke (15), and Alfita Poliwo (19) – were decapitated, and the other , 15-year old Noviana Malewa was hacked in the face, but survived.

AdnanArsal.jpgA measure of far Adnan Arsal is not trusted, even by the authorities, comes from a claim which was made by Jusuf Kalla, shortly after the incident. According to Asia News, the vice president said that he believed that Arsal had been involved in the decapitations. In February, a 31-year old man who was suspected of taking part in the beheading of the three schoolgirls, Sahal Alamry, was arrested in Poso. He was a teacher at Arsal’s Islamic boarding school, the Alamanah Pesantren in Poso.

Alamry had been arrested after a detained Bali bombing suspect and terror recruitment specialist, Subur Sugiarto, gave information. The police suspected that Alamry was an associate of Noordin Top of the Islamist terror group Jemaah Ismaiyah, responsible for the Bali bombings of October 12, 2002 (202 dead) and October 1, 2005 (20 dead).

Adnan Arsal was indignant when one of his religious teachers was arrested. He said that “police is orchestrating a plan to make one of my teachers look like a follower of Noordin Moh Top.”

Arsal claimed in his AKI interview yesterday that police had invaded his pesantren. “It happened even in my pesantren”, he asserted. “The police came, scared the children who ran away in panic. There were two deaths.”

To get an understanding of the current situation in Poso, and also of Arsal’s involvement and whether he is even credible as honest spokesperson on current events, one must first look at the historical background of the conflict.


The Moluccan Conflict

From 1999 to 2002, at least 1,000 people died in Muslim/Christian sectarian conflict on Sulawesi. This was part of a wider sectarian conflict, initiated by the vigilante group Lashkar Jihad, on the nearby Moluccan islands. This conflict is sometimes called the Moluccan War. It also lasted from 1999 to 2002, and saw 9,000 people killed. The leader of Lashkar Jihad, Yemeni-Indonesian Jafar Umar Thalib was charged with sowing hate in the Moluccas. He was acquitted on 30 January, 2003.

Lashkar Jihad, which is reputed to have been set up with assistance from politicians, was voluntarily disbanded in October 2002. It was responsible for not only for horrific massacres, such as that which took place in the village of Soya at Ambon in the Moluccas on April 28, 2002, but also forced conversions of Christians. These involved forcible circumcisions of males and females, some of whom were elderly. The operations were carried out with no anaesthetic by Muslim clerics, rather than by medically trained personnel. The Sydney Morning Herald of 27 January 2001 reported that on six islands affected by the conflict, 3,928 Christians were forced to convert to Islam.

Two days before Thalib was acquitted, a Christian leader, Dr Alex Manuputty was sentenced to three years’ jail for “promoting separatism”. He had been arrested at Ambon on April 17, 2002, eleven days before the Soya massacre. Released on November 2003, Manuputty fled to the United States.

Following his own acquittal, Thalib said of Manuputty’s sentence: “I question why you would sentence him to only three years on charges of subversion while the charge itself carries a minimum sentence of 15 years. He should have been jailed for 15 years.” Manuputty wanted to gain independence of the South Moluccan islands from Indonesia, which is 85% Muslim.

Conflicts on Poso

Most of the sectarian violence in Central Sulawesi, both during the Moluccan conflict and at the present time, has been concentrated on the coastal town of Poso and its surrounding district. What marks Central Sulawesi as special is that it is more or less divided equally between Muslims and Christians. On Poso, there is an imbalance weighted in favor of Muslims. Muslims number 44.99% of the total population in Poso regency, Christians are 39.10%, Catholics 2.5% while the rest are Hindu and Buddhist.

The protagonists of violence on Poso were not only members of Lashkar Jihad, according to The International Crisis Group’s Asia Report No 43 of December 11, 2002 (full pdf document can be obtained from HERE, with registration required).

The terror group Jemaah Islamiyah was behind some of the Islamic militia groups active on Poso. These had names such as Laskar Jundullah (army of Allah). There were several groups of this name, but one was formed in September 2000 as the military wing of KPPSI, the Preparatory Committee for Upholding Islamic Law. This was headed by Agus Dwikarna, later imprisoned as a JI member in the Philippines. Though officially based in Makasar, it had its military headquarters at Poso. It recruited members of another Islamic ‘army”, Laskar Mujahidin, and also the group Darul Islam.

Darul Islam, founded in the 1940s with the aim of establishing a Caliphate in southeast Asia, had provided Jemaah Islamiyah with many of its core members. From 1953 to 1962, Darul Islam launched a rebellion on Aceh in northwestern Indonesia. It also had rebellions in West Java and South Sulawesi in the 1950s. It still exists, and a cell on West Java has links with Noordin Top, the JI financier and recruiter.

JI was founded in Malaysia around 1995 by Abdullah Sungkar. Sungkar in the 1970s also founded the Pondok Ngruki (also called Al Mukmin), the Islamic pesantren in Solo, about 250 miles east of Jakarta. He had co-founded this school with the “spiritual leader” of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Bakar Bashir. About 30 known or suspected Islamic terrorists have attended this pesantren.

Bashir was arrested and jailed for “giving his consent” to the 2002 Bali bombings. Currently there are three conspirators involved in the 2003 bombings, who are awaiting imminent execution. One of these, Amrozi, had attended the Pondok Ngruki school, led by Bashir, and said that it was a “JI institution”. Another of those awaiting death by firing squad is Imam Samudra. The Laskar Mujahidin was linked to the Ngruki school and the MMI, the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), which had been founded by Bashir and others in August 2000.

According to the International Crisis Group, Samudra was directly involved with recruiting for the “jihad” on Poso and the Moluccas.

From his base in a training camp in Cimalati, Pandeglang regency in Banten province (West Java), Samudra would send JI operatives who were to recruit people for jihadist operations in Poso and Ambon. These would approach students, and would invite them to meetings, where they would be shown video CDs of the wars in Ambon and Poso. These videos would be produced by Mujahideen KOMPAK, an affiliate of JI, and would document atrocities supposedly carried out by Christians. After this, there followed about four months of study and discussion about the impending darkness that would come unless they fought for jihad. When the recruits were considered ready, they would be sent to fight in Poso and Ambon.

Other groups involved in the fighting on Poso included Adnan Arsal’s Komite Perjuangan Muslim Poso ( KPMP). By the time Lashkar Jihad disbanded in early October, 2002, it had chased out the fighters of the smaller group Laskar Mujahidin from Poso.

The initial trigger for the violence in Poso and the Moluccas began in 1998, when the dictator Haji Mohamed Suharto was finally forced to resign in 1998. During his rule of twenty-one years’ duration, he had forcefully suppressed Islamist groups in Indonesia. Under his rule, the tradition on Poso was to have the regional governor or bupati alternate from a Muslim, then to a Christian and back, to keep some sense of impartiality and equilibrium. In 1998, the Muslim bupati, Arief Patanga, announced that his successor was to be a member of his family, rather than a Christian, breaking the tradition.

In the Christmas period of 1998, a minor fight broke out in Poso, outside a small mosque. As a result, Poso erupted into violence. The city was left a smoldering wreck as a result of the first conflict (below).

The fighting which took place led to churches being burned, such as the Oikumene Iradat Puri Church in Palu. The Reverend Irianto Kongkoli, who was shot dead on October 16, placed the blame for the Poso violence on the regent or bupati, Arief Patanga, who officially held his post from 1992 to 1997. As we noted earlier, he said: “The one who should be severely punished is Arief Patanga.”

Christian homes and churches continued to be destroyed sporadically until April 2000 when the Muslim on Christian violence reached another peak. Then, there was mounted a retaliation. A group called the Black Bat was involved in the Christian attacks, as was another called the Red Group. As jihadists had either voluntarily come to Poso to engage in the violence or had been sent by JI and Lashkar Jihad, an influx of Christians had also come to take part in the reprisals.

Among the individuals who had come to Poso in April-May to join the counter-attack against Muslims were Christians from East Nusa Tenggara province, which lies south of Sulawesi island. Three individuals who came to Poso at this time were Catholics, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu.

Their alleged involvement, and their subsequent fate, are instrumental in understanding some of the excesses of the Poso conflicts from the time of the Moluccan war, and also in understanding the violence which is currently engulfing Poso.

The three men are said to have gone into an area where violence was raging to evacuate children from a church-led school in the village of Moengko, Poso City. A Muslim mob came to the church on May 23, 2000 and burned the church down. The children and the three men escaped before the building was razed.

These three men were, however, accused of inciting murders of Muslims, and orchestrating the violence which happened in the phase of the conflict during May 2000.

The Christian on Muslim violence was as horrific as anything mounted by the Muslims. In one village, Sintuwulemba, an estimated 300 Muslims were massacred. Their bodies were thrown in the Poso river, where they floated out to sea.

A peace accord was signed in August 2000, and though the conflict did not cease, it subsided substantially. However, in April 2001, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were sentenced to death in a court case that was marked by crowds of Muslims calling for their death. It has been argued that the three men received an unfair trial, and that the judges ordered their deaths to appease the baying Muslim mob surrounding the Palu courthouse.

The death sentence caused a resurgence of the conflict, and in August 2001, Lashkar Jihad arrived in force to wage their war, burning Christian villages around Poso. Other Islamist groups had already been operating for some time by then. Many of the Christians took refuge in the highland lakeside town of Tentena, which is predominantly Christian.

The government intervened and the Malino Accord was brokered in December of that year. In January and February large stockpiles of weapons grew as fighters surrendered them to provincial authorities, but soon, the terms of the Accord were being breached by both sides. The Christians of the region were now without weapons, even though killings of Christians continued.

One individual who had signed the Malino Accord in December 2001 became a victim of its “justice” in August 2002. In mid August, two Muslim attacks took place upon villages near Poso. Three Christians were killed in Peleru, and Mayumba came under siege shortly after. Reverend Rinaldy Damanik, the head of the Protestant Church in the Central Sulawesi region, had helped to evacuate Christians from both villages. He was arrested on August 17 as his lorry was being besieged by jihadists. Police arrested him, and claimed that he was transporting 14 rifles and explosives. Under the terms of Malino, trafficking in weapons carried a sentence of either 12 years’ jail or death by firing squad.

While in prison in Palu, awaiting trial, an attempt was made to poison Rev. Damanik on December 26, 2002, the fourth anniversary of the start of the Poso conflict. He was hospitalized as a result. He was placed on trial on February 3, 2003 and on 16 June, 2003, he was given a three year jail term. He was finally released in November 2004.

The main conflict only came to end in October 2002, when Lashkar Jihad announced that its main fighting wing in Poso, the Zabir, would leave the region of conflict. It was at this time that Laskar Jihad was voluntarily dissolving itself. It has been suggested that this had happened because Jafar Umar Thalib, who had been arrested in April 2002 for a speech made at Ambon mosque, in which he threatened not only Christians, but the government, was awaiting his trial. It was suggested that the group dissolved itself as a measure to stop Thalib becoming jailed. Whether the group is really inactive, or merely dormant, is not so clear.

Post-Conflict Conflict

PosoGraves.jpgFollowing the end of the conflict, violence has continued sporadically ever since. On May 29, 2003, two men from Marowo, a village east of Poso, were shot. One, a Muslim died from a neck wound, and his brother-in-law, a Christian, was injured.

On June 2, 2003, the village of Kapompa was attacked, with five houses riddled with automatic fire. A christian man was killed. On the same day, another man was shot dead in his home in Poso. On June 27, a Christian party held at Kawua village, Poso, had a bomb thrown at it, but no-one was injured.

On July 9, a 32-year old Christian was shot dead by a sniper in Saatu village, Poso, and the following day, a food stall was bombed, injuring four. One of these had a leg and arm amputated. Also on July 10, in Lembomawo village, Poso sub-district, a policeman and a woman teacher were shot as they rode a motorcycle.

On October 10, Beteleme village in Morowalu District, Central Sulawesi was atacked with bombs and gunshots fired by men shouting “Allahu akbar!” A man and a woman were shot dead. On October 11 to 12, several villages were attacked overnight, and nine Christians died. The body of a man who disappeared that night was found four days later. On October 27, 2003, another Christian was killed, in the Poso region after being shot at close range. The next day, the government acknowledged the role of Jemaah Islamiyah in the Poso conflict.

On November 11, 2003, a bus was hit with a low-explosive bomb in Tentena. Four days later, Reverend Tadjodja, synod treasurer of the Central Sulawesi Christian Church was shot dead along with his nephew.

On November 16, a Christian was dragged from his motorcycle and beaten to death by a Muslim mob. His body was dumped in the market, where another Christian’s body lay. On November 24, a bomb was discovered at Palu Ekklesia Pentecostal Church. It was the third time a bomb had been placed there since 2001.

Attacks continued in 2004. On July 18 2004, a woman reverend was shot dead while she was conducting a service at the presbyterian Effata Church in Palu. 29-year old Susianti Tinulele was shot several times by a single attacker, who had an accomplice outside the church. Four of her parishioners were injured.

The same day, a bomb blew up outside a packed sports hall in Poso. No-one was injured. The previous day, Saturday July 17, Helmy Tombiling, the wife of army officer James Harimisa, was found dead outside her home in Sayo, Poso city. She had been stabbed nine times in the chest.

A bomb attack in May 2005 at a market in Tentena saw 22 people killed and 30 injured. On October 27, a bomb went off on a bus carrying 11 passengers from the Christian enclave of Tentena, injuring one person.

On October 29 2005, the four Christian schoolgirls were attacked with machetes, with three beheaded. Two of the girl’s graves are shown above right. On November 28, two Christian girls, Ivone Natalia Moganthi, 18, and Siti Nuraini, 18, were shot in the head at point-blank range. They survived, and it was later revealed that their assailant was a Muslim police brigadier, somewhat weakening Arsal’s claims that all police in Poso are “pro-Christian”.

More attacks upon Christians continued in November in Poso and Palu in Central Sulawesi, with several killed. A machete attack on a group of three Christian girls in Palu saw one girl nearly losing her arm and another, called Afrianti, dying from a chop to the neck.

On December 30, a bomb was set off in a pork market frequented only by Christians, killing six people in Palu.

The situation had deteriorated so far that Gus Dur, moderate former head of the other main Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has 40 million members, claimed in December that the government’s investigation into the Poso conflict was “useless”. Security minister, Admiral Widodo had been given the task of supervising a commission of inquiry. Gus Dur said that the issue was too important to be managed that way.

He said: “The violence in Poso was not of an inter-religious nature. It was orchestrated by someone who had specific interests in the area. The population loses its faith in a government which is incapable of reacting to something like this. There is a time when enough is enough. I do not believe in special squads anymore. My patience has its limits.” He was not alone in the desire for an independent inquiry. Both Muslims and Christians wanted a investigation, suspicious that Widodo’s efforts would probably conceal more than they would reveal. Attacks on Christians in Poso continued at the start of this year. No independent inquiry has been launched.

The Executions Of the Three Christians


Left to right – Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, Dominggus da Silva, 42

Recently, the killings and attacks have started again. On September 10 we wrote that on September 9, a 20-year old Christian woman died after a bomb was thrown at her house in Poso town, and on September 6, a 50-year old Christian man, John Tobeli, was killed by a bomb in Poso district.

Shortly after these attacks, four Muslims were arrested, and upon questioning, they said that they had carried out the bomb attacks because they “wanted to seek revenge for what Tibo and the others had done.” This reference was to the three people who had been sentenced to death in April 2001 for their supposed involvement in Poso killings from May 2000.

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were due to have been executed by firing squad at midnight on the morning of August 12. European leaders, US Senators and Pope Benedict XVI had appealed for leniency. They were reprieved temporarily, only an hour before the sentence was due to be carried out.

Fabianus Tibo had revealed the names of several individuals whom he claimed had really been responsible for causing the Christian on Muslim violence.

The Jubilee Campaign had argued for clemency for the three Catholics, and in a pdf report on the case, mention is made of the names of these 16 individuals. Adnan Arsal, at a meeting in December 2004, demanded that the individuals named by Tibo be investigated. His interest was not like the Rev. Irianto Kongkoli, who sought to have the three men exonerated. Adnan Arsal just wanted to have more Christians to punish.

Sometimes, Arsal had made gestures of public citizenship. After the decapitation of the three schoolgirls on October 29, in December, he handed over to the authorities two Muslims, Andi Ipong and Muhammad Yusuf who were wanted for their involvement in Muslim on Christian violence. In hindsight, it is more likely that he made this gesture to deflect suspicions which had fallen on him, when vice-president Jusuf Kalla had suggested that he had involvement with the beheadings of the schoolgirls.

The delay in the executions of Tibo, Marinus and da Silva had taken place because of Indonesia’s Independence Day, which fell on August 17. There was a widespread feeling of injustice about the case. Muslim violence had initiated the conflict, yet though Muslims had been sentenced for their part in the killings, not a single one had been sentenced to death. The maximum penalty for any Muslim perpetrator of inter-faith violence was 15 years’ imprisonment.

On August 11, before the men had been due to die, thousands of people protested in their home province of East Nusa Tenggara.

What made matters more galling for Christians was the manner in which the government seemed to place the importance of the three Christian men in some equivalence with the three Jemaah Islamiyah activists, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim,his brother Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra, who had helped kill 202 people on Bali, and had shown no remorse. Some analysts said the government did not want to invoke public anger in the predominantly Muslim nation by executing the Christians before the 3 Islamist terrorists.

Mahendratta, lawyer for the three Muslims said: “People were asking, ‘Why Amrozi first, and not Tibo?’ For me, it is a simple matter: just follow the death row queue. Tibo and his friends got convicted first, and they should be executed first.”

While Christians protested, and pleaded for clemency, Adnan Arsal was demanding that the three Christians should be killed. In September, he was reported as saying there was no doubt Tibo was involved in a series of killings of Muslims. He said: “The Muslim community generally thinks he was the actor in the field. It has been proven that he was involved in the killings.”

On September 20, Asnan Arsal and many other Islamist activists had their wishes granted, when Tibo, Riwu and da Silva were taken from their jail cell in Palu and escorted to the Palu airfield. There they were then shot. All of their requests, such as to be allowed to be laid in state in Palu Cathedral, were denied by the authorities.

Robert Bala Keitimu, a lawyer for one of the three, said that the case should be reopened, as the names of 16 individuals, who are believed to have done the killings for which the men were executed, are now known. He suggested the government wanted to cover up the truth behind the Poso riots.

There immediately followed rioting from Christians, both at East Nusa Tenggara, the province where the executed men had lived, and at Poso. A prison was stormed open at Atuamba on East Timor, where Dominggus da Silva had lived, and on Flores island, where two of the men had been born, Christians carried machetes and ran through the streets.

In Poso, thousands of Christians took to the streets, looking for Muslim motorists. Police had to seal off the area. Tyres were burned on the street, and protesters threw rocks at policemen. One police officer was injured. By the end of the afternoon, the unrest in Poso had died down. A few days later, there were bomb attacks at Poso, including the unsuccessful September 30 attack upon the Ekklesia church. On October 1, a Christian was pulled off a bus in Poso, and stabbed. He survived the attack.

On October 9, the bodies of two Muslims were discovered near Poso. It appears that they had been killed in the orgy of aggression which had followed the execution of the three Catholics.

Between the time of the execution and October 10, there had been five explosions in Central Sulawesi, and tensions between Muslim and Christian communities were becoming strained.

There seem to be figures involved in the conflict as ringleaders. Adnan Arsal is at the cheap end – he merely wants to have Muslim power over other groups in the region, and will lie, betray and incite killings to achieve this. As a native of the region, he at least has a vested interest in the province. This year, a new Christian bupati was chosen as head of the Poso regency, and Adnan Arsal has led violent demonstrations against the Christian’s tenure of the role.

But when one considers the manner in which Reverend Ridyanti had been “framed” by police, the long amount of time it took for the government to admit the involvement of Jemaah Islamiyah in the conflict, the bizarre manner in which Umar Jaffar Thalib, already rumored to have had political sponsors, managed to become acquitted, all point to the potential that people with power and influence had acted behind the scenes to orchestrate the violence in Poso.


Today, two prisoners were released early from their detention. The move was made as a goodwill gesture to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. The details are carried by Deutsche Presse Agentur via Monsters & Critics and Antara News.

One of the individuals to be released is a cannibal. Sumanto walked out of Purwokerto Prison this morning. He had been given a five year sentence for digging up and eating an 81-year old woman in 2003. She had been recently buried. In addition, Hutomo ‘Tommy’ Mandala Putra, a son of the corrupt former dictator Suharto, who is serving a 10-year jail term for murder, had his sentence reduced. He already is allowed out on medical appointments.

The other individual to be released this morning was a terrorist who had played a part in the 2002 Bali bombings. He was due to have been freed at the end of December, but had 45 days of his jail term removed. Muhammad Rudi bin Salim alias Mujarot was released from Denpasar jail in Bali this morning. Eight other convicts received 45-day jail term reductions as an Eid gesture.

Indonesia: Islamist Praises Government’s Handling Of Unrest

Originally published on October 25, 2006.

JafarUmarThalib.jpgPoso in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, has been the scene of Muslim and Christian sectarian conflict which was at its worst between the end of 1998 and May 2002. During that period, 1,000 people were killed. We presented an analysis of the background of the conflict, and also noted how sporadic incidents of violence have continued since. There have been peaks in violence, such as at the end of Ramadan in 2005, and again this year.

On Tuesday, Muslim vigilantes attacked police, resulting in a conflict in which a young Muslim was killed. The Eklesia church in Gebangrejo village in Poso had survived a bomb attack on September 30 but before 1 am on Tuesday, this church was subjected to an arson attack. The roof was demolished, and the interior gutted. The building had been attacked by twenty individuals on motorcycles, who had thrown molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices to cause the blaze.

Associated Press via the International Herald Tribune reports that earlier today, two houses which were rented by police officers were set alight. Rudy Sufahriadi, the police officer in charge of Poso, reported that all national troops staying in private residences had been moved to barracks for their safety.

Muslim leaders have demanded that troops be withdrawn from Poso regency, or else they will paralyze the local administration and economy.

Today, Antara News reports, the head of the 7th or Wirabuana Military Command, Major General Arief Budi Sampurno, said that there would be no withdrawals of its personnel from Poso. He said that their number may even be increased.

Sampurno was speaking after a meeting with security officials and religious figures. These included the head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), Syamsir Siregar, as well as several high-ranking officials from the military (TNI) and the Police Headquarters.

He claimed that the general situation in Poso remained peaceful. He said: “There are no obvious signs of unrest.” He blamed any movements of dissent upon people who “are not satisfied because local security has been tightened.” Sampurno added that next month, a platoon of army engineers would be arriving to assist in the rebuilding of 1,000 homes which were damaged in earlier violence.

Yesterday. AKI reported on an interview with Adnan Arsal, a Muslim leader, who claimed that police were biased towards Christians. Arsal’s group Komite Perjuangan Muslim Poso ( KPMP or Committee for the Islamic Struggle in Poso) had been involved in the massacres of Christians on Poso in the 1998-2002 conflict. He had also supported the executions of three Christians, who were shot by firing squad on September 20 for their alleged role in the violence.

Today, AKI writes of an interview it held with the founder and leader of the now-disbanded militant group Laskar Jihad (army of holy battle). This individual, Jafar Umar Thalib (pictured), had sent his Laskar Jihad militias to Poso in August 2001, significantly increasing the conflict’s casualties.

He had also been responsible for much of the violence of the Moluccan War, which took the lives of 9,000 people and will be described below.

45-year old Thalib said to AKI that “The government is on the right path and the situation is under control.” He said there was no need to reinstate Laskar Jihad, which had voluntarily disbanded in October 2002. He said: “The decision to disband Laskar Jihad in 2002 came about not because of external pressure but through our belief that the government’s good faith and efforts were helping to end the conflict.”

Jafar Umar Thalib is an enigmatic character, but despite his history of helping to propagate was and conflict, he is widely respected in the Indonesian Muslim community. He has been arrested and imprisoned on several occasions, but not once has he received any conviction for his activities.

Thalib was born in Malang in East Java province in 1961. He is of Yemeni and Madurese parentage. For the most part, his early life had been spent as a teacher of Arabic and Islamic sciences in pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) which were funded by the Al-Irsyad Foundation. Al-Irsyad is made up mainly of Indonesians of Arabic origin, like Thalib. The religious outlook of the pesantren schools they sponsor is, like Thalib’s, of the Wahhabist persuasion. Thalib had studied in Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabist fundamentalism began and still flourishes.

Already a supporter of extreme and fundamental Islamism, Jafar Umar Thalib had gone to Afghanistan in 1988 to become a Mujahideen against the Soviets. He went here after he had been studying at the Maududi Institute in Lahore, Pakistan, which had been funded by the extremist Sayyid Abul a’la Maududi (1903 – 1979). Maududi’s Islamism gave rise to the Jamaat-e-Islami parties in Pakistan and Bangladesh, which wish to destroy democratic laws and establish sharia rule in both countries. Jafar Umar Thalib had been taking advanced Islamic studies at the Maududi Institute but dropped out, and moved to Afghanistan.

Like many “mujahideen” who fought in Afghanistan at this time, Thalib claims that he met Osama bin Laden during his stay in the country. Thalib returned to Indonesia in 1989, where he helped to run the Al-Irsyad network of pesantren.

Thalib, like the Wahhabists, bin Laden, the followers of Maududi and most of the Al-Irsyad, believes that nations should be under sharia rule. Certain figures in the Indonesian political establishment feel similarly. Thalib is said to have links to figures in the army. When he established Laskar Jihad, he is reputed to have done so with the backing of politicians. It appears that Thalib’s “connections” have allowed him to never receive any punishments for the horrific atrocities carried out by his militias.

Unlike the Jemaah Islamiyah and other militant groups, Thalib believes in Indonesia as a political entity, and his aim to establish sharia is framed within national terms, rather than as a pan-southeast Asian Caliphate. One major obstacle to the establishment of Sharia is the fact that Indonesia, which has the highest number of Muslims of all nations, is still only 85% Muslim. In Sulawesi and the Moluccas (Malaku), a large portion of the Christian population live. In Central Sulawesi and many of the Moluccas, the populations are split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians.

The Moluccas were formerly the only regions where the valuable spices of nutmeg and cloves were to be found growing on a commercial scale, and from the 16th century onwards, Dutch, Portugese and English traders made inroads to these islands, and they bequeathed much of their own religious traditions to these islands. The Dutch, who controlled the Moluccas and neighboring West Papua until the 1940s, had trained and educated many Moluccan natives, particularly from one island, Ambon.

Indonesia came into being in 1949 under Sukharno, and as the Dutch had virtually abandoned their colonies the Moluccas became incorporated into the Indonesian archipelago. In 1969, the UN gave West Papua (Irian Jaya) to Indonesia.

On Ambon, there had long been hopes for independence from Indonesia. Under Suharto, who ruled for 21 years from 1967, discussion of religious and ethnic differences was firmly suppressed. When Suharto was forced to resign in 1998, the desires for independence resurfaced in places like Ambon. Under Suharto, the ethnic and religious divisions had been avoided on the island, via a process known as “Pela Gandung”, which encouraged alliances between villages of different faiths. This system had been employed in the rest of Indonesia and incorporated within the political system under the title “Pancasila”, encouraging pluralism.

The removal of Suharto from power in May 1998 unleashed the hopes of separatist movements, such as the OPM in Irian Jaya, and in the Moluccas, the FKM movement, led by Dr Alex Manuputty which aimed to establish South-Moluccas Independence (RMS). In Java, this period saw the birth of extremist Islamist groups, such as the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defender’s Front), which was founded in August 1998 by an Arab-Indonesian, Habib Rizieq Shihab (aka Muhammad Rizieq).

Another Islamist group was founded in this year, the Forum Komunikasi Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah or FKAWJ. This Sunni hardline organization aimed to promote “true Islamic values” and rejects democracy. One its main members was Jafar Umar Thalib. The FKAWJ rejects popular Muslim groups (Muhammadiya and Nahdlatul Ulama), as their tolerance of democracy and other faiths makes them heretical. It also does not allow women positions of power. Thalib believes that its duties to women are “to educate them and then marry them to pious men who are capable of preventing them from falling into sin. Men’s role is to supervise women and ensure that their behaviour is properly Islamic.”

Thalib has three wives, all wearing black shrouds, hijabs (headscarfs) and niqabs (face-veils). He now has 14 children by his wives.

AmbonMap.gifRamadan came to an end in January 1999, and with it came the stability of Ambon in the Moluccas, under their system of “Pela Gandung”. It has been argued that this outbreak of sectarian conflict had been instigated by the military, who hoped that the weak government of Halibi would collapse under such conflict, and could be used as an excuse to introduce martial law.

Laskar Jihad was officially founded on January 30 2000 in Yogyakarta (some say 1999) as the paramilitary division of the FKAWJ. Thalib claimed that the LJ was formed after it was learned that in Malaku province (the Moluccas), there were plans by Protestant Christians to form a Christian state, independent of Indonesia. This was, as Thalib perceived it, to include North Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Papua (Irian Jaya). Thalib claimed that the Christian separatists intended to wage war on the Muslims and drive them out in a process of “ethnic cleansing”.

While Laskar Jihad was being formed, in January 2000, an Acehnese Islamist called Al-Chaidar organised a large Muslim rally in National Monument Park, Jakarta, where he called for a holy war against the Christians in Ambon. Al-Chadair has also been implicated in anti-Christian riots which took place on Lombok (adjoining Bali) on January 17, 2000.

FKAWJ announced that the Christians of Malaku were “kafir harbi” or “warlike infidels”, and it was Islamically justifiable to kill them. It also said that 2000 would be the “Year of Jihad”. Thalib set up Laskar Jihad and claimed that the government of Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid (“Gus Dur“, who was president from 1999 to 2001 and head of the Nahdlatul Ulama from 1984 to 1999) was “unable or unwilling to protect the Islamic community. If the state can’t protect us then we must do it ourselves.” Wahid was the first ever elected president, but his moderate version of Islam was viewed by Thalib as heretical. Thalib said of his government: “It is positioned to oppress Muslim interests and protect those of the infidels.”

LaskarJihad.jpgOn April 26, 2000, Thalib and his lieutenants bragged that they had a special relationship with the head of the TNI, Admiral Widodo. (Widodo was charged to carry out the investigation into the Poso conflict at the end of last year. This was challenged by Gus Dur).

Laskar Jihad, whose members wear distinctive white robes like those of karate practitioners, became involved in a mass campaign of attack against the Christians of the Moluccas, and are said to have forcibly converted 3,928 Christians on six islands. During their first year they attracted numerous new recruits, and were helped in this aim by their publication of a magazine called “Salafy”.

They were particularly active on Ambon in the Moluccas, but they also had groups established in Papua. One trait of the Indonesian government under Suharto had been to enforce a policy called euphemistically “transmigration”. Part of the reason for the first outbreak of sectarian violence in the Moluccas had happened as a result of Suharto’s policies of “transmigration”, where untold Muslim immgrants had been forced onto the Moluccan communities. Many Christians (and Muslims) had been “transmigrated” to West Papua from islands such as Flores in East Nusa Tenherra province. Laskar Jihad also went to Central Sulawesi. In August 2001, Thalib sent a large force of Laskar Jihad to Poso.

But the most intense operations of Laskar Jihad were focused on Ambon, and against the Christians who until then had lived in harmony with their Muslim neighbours.

By April 2002, things had reached the worst point in ethnic relations on Ambon. Dr Alex Manuputty, head of the FKM, one of the independence groups, lived on this island.

Manuputty and his followers threatened to hoist banned flags on Thursday, 25 April 2002, to commemorate a battle for independence which happened on that day, 52 years earlier. Such a trivial action was regarded by both the government and Laskar Jihad as a treasonous act. Before the innocuous raising of flags could be made, Manaputty was arrested on April 17, 2002, for “promoting separatism”. He was later charged with treason, and on 28 January 2003, he and his deputy Semmy Waeleruny were given three-year jail sentences.

On Friday, April 26, after evening prayers, Jafar Umar Thalib addressed a gathering of 5,000 Muslims outside the Al-Fatah Mosque in Ambon, urging them to fight a holy war against the Christians. He said: “From today, we will no longer talk about reconciliation. Our… focus now must be preparing for war – ready your guns, spears and daggers.”

On Sunday 28, militia of Laskar Jihad, also accompanied by what appeared to be members of the army, entered the small village of Soya on Ambon. I have seen a video of what ensued, produced by Islamists, and we even had it linked from Western Resistance. 21 people died, with small children and women hacked at with machetes and decapitated, and men beaten to death with staves, beheaded, and burned alive in their homes. The video showed men being beaten to death, and members of the Laskar Jihad and apparent military holding up severed heads. Children in hospital were shown with machete wounds to their faces and arms.

Thalib2.jpgFollowing this atrocity, Thalib was arrested on May 4, 2002, at the town of Surabaya, the capital of East Java. He was then taken to Jakarta to remain in custody until Thursday July 25 2002on bail. Thalib had been charged with inciting the Soya massacre, and also insulting President Megawati Sukarnoputri. On 30 January, 2003, Jafar Umar Thalib was acquitted.

Early in October 2002, before his trial, Laskar Jihad was voluntarily disbanded. It is gone, but is still a presence which could be reactivated.

Thalib at one stage had been involved in the stoning to death of an alleged rapist in 2001. Magazine reports had said that he had cast the first stone. Though arrested for this act, he was never prosecuted. He fancies himself as an Islamic intellectual, but his main role is as an agitator and as a fighter. In 2002 in Jakarta, he was engaged in a public debate with Nurcholish Madjid, one of Indonesia’s leading Islamic scholars. He was not able to match Madjid’s intellectual strength.

In January this year, Thalib and hundreds of his former Laskar Jihad fighters were brought to the Al-Fatah mosque in Ambon. Here they were given a lecture by imam and author Luqman Ba’abduh. The imam told them over a period of two days about the Khawarij, also called the Kharjites, a Salafist group which emerged in 657 AD in the western part of North Africa. Members of this group slaughtered early associates of Mohammed, such as Umar bin Khattab, Usman bin Affan and Ali bin Abi Thalib. Their actions have been used by modern-day Salafists and others to justify acts of terrorism.

Ironically, after the events of 9/11, Jafar Umar Thalib had condemned his former mentor, Osama bin Laden, along with Al-Qaeda, as a “khawarij”.



  1. SBY dan semua perwakilan rakyat Indo agar memberikan gratis fiscal dan pasport utk all members of FPI dan radical islam yg ada di Indo biar mereka bisa bergabung utk Mati di tembak senjata modern isreal dan USA.daripada mengacaukan negara Indonesia di mat said,

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  2. Middle East History said,

    Banyak orang salah kaprah dgn mengatakan bahwa orang-orang Yahudi dipaksa keluar dari tanah mereka oleh tentara Romawi setelah Kuil Kedua mereka di Yerusalem dihancurkan tahun 70 M. Lalu menurut pengertian sejarah salah kaprah ini; 1.800 tahun kemudian, tiba-tiba orang-orang Yahudi kembali ke Palestina dan menuntut kembali tanah airnya. Faktanya adalah: orang-orang Yahudi tetap mempertahankan tanah air mereka selama 3.700 tahun. Bahasa nasional dan kebudayaan khas Yahudi tetap bertahan di wilayah itu.

    Yahudi menganggap Israel sebagai tanah airnya berdasarkan empat hal:
    1. Tuhan sendiri yang menjanjikan tanah warisan ini kepada Abraham
    2. Orang-orang Yahudi tetap hidup disitu dan merawat daerah itu
    3. Pemberian kedaulatan penuh oleh PBB kepada Yahudi di Palestina
    4. Penguasaan daerah berdasarkan perang bela diri.

    Istilah “Palestina” dipercaya diambil dari kata Filistine, yakni merujuk pada orang-orang Aegea yang pada abad 12 SM tinggal di tepi Mediterania yang sekarang dikenal sebagai Israel dan Jalur Gaza. Abad 2M, setelah menghancurkan pemberontakan Yahudi, Pemerintah Romawi untuk pertama kalinya memberi nama Palestina pada tanah Yudea (bagian selatan Israel yang sekarang dikenal sebagai Tepi Barat) dalam usaha untuk menciutkan identitas Yahudi dengan tanah Israel. Kata Arab “Filastin” diambil dari nama Latin ini.

    Sejak th 1000 SM, ke-12 suku Israel sudah membentuk kerajaan pertama di Palestina. Raja kedua, yakni David, menentukan Yerusalem sebagai ibu kota. Meskipun akhirnya Palestina pecah jadi dua kerajaan, kemerdekaan orang Yahudi tetap berlangsung sampai 212 tahun. Jangka waktu ini hampir sama dengan lamanya kemerdekaan Amerika Serikat sekarang.

    Bahkan setelah dihancurkannya Kuil Kedua di Yerusalem dan saat awal pengasingan, orang-orang Yahudi tetap hidup di Palestina dan beranak-pinak. Abad ke 9M, terdapat masyarakat Yahudi dalam jumlah besar di Yerusalem dan Tiberias. Abad ke 11M, masyarakat Yahudi berkembang di Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa dan Caesarea.

    Abad ke 12, banyak orang Yahudi dibantai oleh para tentara Perang Salib, tapi mereka dapat berkembang lagi dalam dua abad selanjutnya dengan datangnya para rabi dan peziarah Yahudi dalam jumlah besar ke Yerusalem dan Galilea. Para rabi terkemuka membentuk masyarakat Yahudi di Safed, Yerusalem dan di daerah lain selama 300 tahun berikutnya. Awal abad ke 19 sebelum kelahiran gerakan Zionist modern, lebih dari 10.000 orang Yahudi telah hidup di daerah yang sekarang dikenal sebagai Israel.

    Ketika orang-orang Yahudi mulai berdatangan ke Palestina dalam jumlah besar di tahun 1882, kurang dari 250.000 Arab hidup di sana, dan kebanyakan dari mereka datang dalam dekade akhir. Palestina tidak pernah jadi suatu negara Arab yang berdaulat, meskipun perlahan-lahan bahasa Arab jadi bahasa yang paling banyak digunakan setelah penyerangan Muslim di abad ke tujuh. Tidak pernah ada negara Arab atau Palestina yang berdaulat di Palestina.

    Ahli sejarah Arab terkemuka AS, Prof. Phillip Hitti dari Universitas Princeton, membuat pengakuan di depan Anglo-American Committee di tahun 1946, dengan mengatakan: “Tidak pernah ada “Palestina” dalam sejarah, sama sekali tidak.” Memang, Palestina juga tidak pernah ditulis dengan tegas dalam Qur’an, yang disebut adalah “tanah suci” (al-Arad al-Muqaddash).

    Sebelum adanya pembagian daerah, orang-orang Arab Palestina tidak melihat diri mereka punya identitas yang terpisah. Tapi ketika First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations bertemu di Yerusalem di bulan Februari 1919 untuk memilih wakil-orang Palestina untuk Konferensi Perdamaian Paris, pernyataan berikut diumumkan: Kami merasa Palestina adalah bagian dari Syria Arab, karena bagian ini tidak pernah terpisah dari Syria dalam waktu kapanpun. Kami berhubungan dengan Syria secara kenegaraan, agama, bahasa, ekonomi dan ikatan daerah.

    Tahun 1937, pemimpin Arab setempat, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, menyatakan Peel Commission yang pada prinsipnya menuntut bagian Palestina: “Tidak ada negara (Palestina)! Kata ‘Palestina’ itu diciptakan oleh Zionist! Tidak ada kata Palestina dalam Alkitab. Tanah air kami sejak berabad-abad merupakan bagian dari Syria.”

    Wakil Arab Higher Committee untuk PBB mengajukan pernyataan di General Assembly di bulan May 1947 yang menyatakan bahwa “Palestina merupakan bagian dari Propinsi Syria” dan karenanya,” secara politis, orang-orang Arab Palestina tidak terpisah dari Syria dan tidak bisa membentuk kesatuan politis yang terpisah dari Syria.”

    Beberapa tahun kemudian, Ahmed Shuqeiri, yang lalu jadi ketua PLO, mengatakan pada Security Council: “Sudah jadi pengetahuan umum bahwa Palestina adalah bagian selatan Syria.”

    Nasionalisme Arab Palestina kebanyakan muncul setelah Perang Dunia I. Tapi ini tidak jadi gerakan politik yang bermakna sampai terjadi Perang Enam Hari di tahun 1967 dan Israel menguasai Tepi Barat.

    “Surat Tanda Lahir” Israel secara internasional disahkan oleh janji Tuhan dalam Alkitab; masyarakat Yahudi yang tinggal terus menerus di Israel sejak jaman Yoshua sampai saat ini; Deklarasi Balfour di tahun 1817; Mandat Liga Bangsa-Bangsa, yang berhubungan dengan Deklarasi Balfour; partition resolution PBB tahun1947; diterimanya Israel di PBB tahun 1949; pengakuan atas negara Israel oleh sebagian besar dunia; dan yang terpenting dari semuanya, masyarakat yang diciptakan oleh orang-orang Israel selama berpuluh-puluh tahun berkembang menjadi suatu negara yang dinamis.


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