WATCHING the twin towers crumble to the ground on CNN was like viewing a Hollywood action movie. CNN gave us a spectacle: buildings collapsing, people running and screaming, firefighters and police officers working hard to rescue victims and clearing up the disaster area, thick dust and debris looming high in the air, a total chaos. It was all so incredible and spectacular at the same time that it became easy to suspend ones disbelief, such as when reading fiction or watching a motion picture.
Yet, when full realization of the tragedy became inevitable – that such an atrocity was real, presented live, right before our eyes – what initially was taken to be entertaining immediately turned into horror. Those images on CNN did not quickly disappear like the tears we shed when watching a sad movie, but will probably linger in our minds forever, like a phantom that will not rest in peace unless the perpetrators of the evil act are brought to justice.
What naturally followed, then, was anger rather than anguish, spurring more a cry for retaliation than grief for the deceased. And it is understandable that as a result, not too long after the incident, America geared up for war. The whole nation stood behind its President, and it was ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ that ruled. The world, too, once again saw another great divide after the Cold War: those who were with the United States and those who were against it. And it was none other than George W. Bush who drew such a line on the world map.
Indonesian media responses, to a large extent, took their course along this line as well, resulting in a down-play of the tragedy and the blow-up of the war efforts and their consequences. In addition, the debates surrounding the issue in the Indonesian media were also heavily influenced by local political, economic and religious factors, and the struggle for power over national leadership.
The two streams merged in such a way that the resulting discourse was difficult to clearly define. Rage and fear, more than sympathy for the victims, predominated; rage against an American invasion of Afghanistan, and fear of ‘sweeping’ by Islamic hardliners of US nationals in Indonesia, as well as for a second wave of economic/monetary crisis in the country. Simultaneously, the loud responses also seemed to be specifically orchestrated in a well calculated move by some groups to subserve their domestic political agenda and power struggle: the revival of Islamic fundamentalist power in an effort to gain greater control over Megawati Sukarnoputri’s national-secular administration.
On the other hand, the discourse orchestrated by the local media at the same time strongly demonstrated another Islamic manoeuvre that tried to distance Islam from fundamentalism and its traditionally given violent images. The result was a multifaceted picture of Islam in Indonesia, and of Indonesia in general, in the context of the post-11 September attack, which defied the bleak, monolithic image of the country constructed by most international media.
The 11 September attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was definitely responded to with ambiguity in Indonesia. Many viewed the two targets as symbolizing American economic and military superiority: two major areas of modern life in which the United States plays a dominant role. However, even those who shared that opinion also condemned the attack and sympathised with the victims and their families. The picture of a bunch of Palestinian youth portrayed as having the time of their lives, celebrating the success of the attack is still fresh in our mind, but equally strong was the image of another group of Palestinian kids holding candles, grieving for those killed. Though the attack occurred on US soil, at the same time another type of war was being fought in another battlefield in the Middle East, and in Indonesia too, as this essay tries to show.
Like it or not, the close political proximity of the attack with the Middle East context had brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into play. Republika, a leading Indonesian daily newspaper affiliated with the Islamic ideology, in its 17 October 2001 edition, cited Major General Yassin Sweid, an Arab strategic observer, who, in an interview with Abu Dhabi satellite television (UAE), equated Bush with Hitler as a bloodthirsty warmonger. He said it was strange that Islam was made the culprit in every terrorist act.
While Article 7 of the UN Charter that allows a military attack on countries which do not adhere to inter-national resolutions had been generously used in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the same law was not applied to Israel, which has repeatedly violated international resolutions on Palestine. He added that this became possible in the first place due to western intervention, since they possess advance technology and dominate the world economy.
In its October 1 edition, Republika also raised suspicions about the role played by Israel in the attack. It was rumoured that moments before the attack 4,000 Jews working in the WTC quietly left the buildings. It was believed that the attack was part of a dirty scheme designed by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, to turn Moslems against each other. Tempo weekly magazine published an article written by Donald K. Emerson, a Berkeley-based Indonesianist professor, which strongly countered the idea that Israel masterminded the attack. He said that such an idea was not only misleading but heinous. All evidence gathered so far had pointed to Al Qaeda as the sole culprit, and not Zionists disguised as Moslems in order to start a crusade against Islam, as rumours had it (Tempo, 15-21 October 2001).
Don Emerson’s article was republished in the US State Department’s special publication titled Jaringan Terrorist (Terrorist Network) and distributed to both institutions and individuals in Indonesia soon after it appeared in Tempo. On this occasion, Emerson also criticized Edward Said for routinely blaming the ‘demonization of Islam’ solely on western Orientalism, underplaying the fact that the same process was adopted by Islamic extremists among the Moslems themselves.
In Indonesia, however, the theory of an Israeli conspiracy was shared by a few Moslem leaders, mainly those belonging to fundamental groups such as Lasykar Jihad (Jihad Fighters), Majelis Mujahidin (Mujahidin Council), and the FPI – Front Pembela Islam (Defender of Islam Front Defender of Islam Front). Others were more moderate in their opinions but most uniformly viewed America as unjust and arrogant. Among those centrist figures was A. Mustofa Bisri, a highly respected ulama, who wrote in Tempo, 29 October-4 November 2001, that the world had been witnessing how the United States had always wanted to impose its will through either economic or military means, or by using the United Nations against small countries whose political stance was different from that taken by the US.
Its attack on Afghanistan was as evil as the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. Bisri stressed that violence – be it in the name of truth or justice – could not be justified by Islam (p. 104). This statement was clearly intended not only as a response to both the 11 September attack and the US attack on Afghanistan but also as a critique of the Islamic hardliners who threatened to conduct a ‘sweeping’ on Americans in Indonesia and send mujahidin fighters to Afghanistan to help the Taliban.
Sukidi, another Moslem scholar who is considered moderate and progressive, also made a similar double-edged statement in an interview when he said that both ‘crusade’ and ‘jihad’ were attempts at commodification of religious symbols for short-term, cheap political agendas. He referred to an earlier statement by Bush in which he used the term ‘crusade’ in his oath to fight terrorism all over the world, as well as to the discourse of ‘jihad’ brought up by radical Islamic organizations in the country. For Sukidi the issue was one of political crime plain and simple, but if blown up into a Christian-Moslem polarization could result in a global religious war. As a consequence of his statement, a member of Majelis Mujahidin filed a lawsuit against Sukidi on the pretext of blasphemy against Islam (Syir’ah, 2(4), 25 February-25 March 2002).
Aclarification of these terms was also provided by Nurul Agustina, a woman activist and journalist for Republika. She pointed out that ‘jihad’ is a serious effort made to achieve a noble cause, which may include a fight to control oneself from temptation or a struggle to spread Islam and fight those who are hostile to Islam or do not recognize Islam. Normally, jihad is commonly used to refer to efforts made by adherents of Islam to improve their condition.
Nevertheless, she also pointed out that history has shown how difficult it is to draw a clear-cut line between those who conduct jihad for Allah and those who do it for other interests (Swara Rahima, 4(2) February 2002). Agustina, Sukidi and Bisri were part of a concerted effort by moderate Moslems to counter the campaigns for jihad and ‘sweeping’ launched by the hardliners, even as they remained critical of the way the United States and the western world perceive Islam in the context of conflict between the Arab/Islamic world and the West.
Their approach is fundamentally different from that of Don Emerson, who refused to see that the blind spot of US foreign policy lies in the double standards it practices as far as the Middle East is concerned. Emerson’s position, in many ways, shares some similarities with those of Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama. In the Newsweek special issue (December 2001-February 2002), both firmly continued to base their theses on the polarization between the West and Islam (Huntington: ‘The Age of Muslim Wars’) or between the modern world and radical Islamists (Fukuyama: ‘Their Target: The Modern World’), failing to recognize that globalization, while creating a borderless world for the benefit of western powers has, at the same time, also facilitated unrestricted contact and unlimited networking between Islamic groups all over the world in ways hitherto unthinkable.
That is why the real motive behind the invasion of Afghanistan was critically questioned by most Indonesian media. A headline in Kompas (a leading national newspaper owned by a Catholic publishing group), for instance, said ‘Menggusur Terorisme, Taliban, atau Islam?’ (Getting Rid of Terrorism, the Taliban, or Islam?). The article argued that the underlying motive was economy more than ideology. Quoting Muhammad Niam, Director of the Islamabad based Centre for Islamic Research and Studies, it stated that Bin Ladin was only a passing target in US efforts to dominate the Central and South Asian economies by toppling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The establishment of a new regime would surely help achieve this ultimate target (Kompas, 26 October 2001).
Republika also voiced a similar suspicion. Its headline on 12 October 2001 read, ‘Menebar Tuduhan, Menebar Racun’ (Spreading Accusation, Spreading Poison), referring to a list of suspects issued by the US government despite inadequate evidence. It also criticized a statement made by a high ranking US official published in The New York Times, which claimed that Al Qaeda existed in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Moreover, it said that the Defender of Islam Front (FPI) and Lasykar Jihad in Indonesia were associated with Al Qaeda, while in the Philippines it was Abu Sayaf.
As for terrorism, the way the term was used by various parties involved was also exposed in Indonesian media. Syir’ah, specifically provided considerable space for the topic in its May 2002 edition. Similar to Swara Rahimah, this magazine is published by an Islamic NGO attempting to promote a more progressive and friendly face of Islam in Indonesia amidst the heated campaign for a return to fundamentalism and the emergence of an exclusivist Islamic movement in the country. There were three articles discussing terrorism in that particular edition: ‘Teroris: Katamu atau Kataku?’ (Terrorist: Say You or Say Me?), ‘Terorisme Berbasis Agama?’ (Terrorism based on Religion?), and ‘Ada Udang di Balik RUU Terorisme’ (What’s Behind the Bill on Terrorism).
All the three articles saw terrorism as highly problematic and stressed the need to avoid binary opposition, such as in the discourse constructed by the Bush administration or the radical Islamic groups in Indonesia. Citing Trisno Sutanto, an activist associated with the Society for Interfaith Dialogs (MADIA), the first article pointed out the multiplicity of meaning the term generates, which caused a ‘war of words’ among countries or groups involved in the conflict, centering around the unstable meaning of the term ‘terrorism’ (p. 9). The fluidity of the meaning of ‘terrorism’ had also affected the formulation of the Terrorism Bill by the government, and the question remained: What is terrorism anyway? (pp. 10-11)
The second article, which focused on the relationship between religion and terrorism revealed that notwithstanding the backlash suffered by Moslem people living in the US in the aftermath of the attack, interest in studying Islam and gaining better knowledge of it among American people had considerably increased. One reason was that some Americans did not believe that religion could become an inspiration for terrorist acts (p. 13). However, the call for jihad that had been aggressively made by many Islamic groups and organizations, such as the FPI and MUI (the Indonesian Ulama Council), showed that religion could easily be used to justify violence. Sutanto from MADIA wrote that should this trend continue, not only would it reinforce the image that religion related to terrorism but also create mutual hatred among adherents of different religions in Indonesia (p. 14).
The Terrorism Bill, the topic of the third article, had generated strong reactions from various NGOs and Islamic groups, both moderate and radical. The Islamic hardliners argued that the Bill was merely an order under US pressure, totally against human rights and whose objective was to open up ways to repress anti-American sentiments and Moslem people in general (p. 15). Democratic NGOs, such as Indonesia’s Institute of Law Advocacy Foundation (YLBHI) and the Institute for the Studies of People’s Advocacy (ELSAM), two foremost civil society organizations, declared that the Bill was not only against human rights but could also be abused to repress groups that have dissenting political views from those of the government (p. 15). The article was sceptical about the efficacy of the Bill in combatting terrorism, especially when the term ‘terrorism’ itself was highly problematic (p. 16).
The issue of ‘sweeping’ generated by radical Islamic groups was taken seriously by both the government of Indonesia and the people, but in different ways. Although the Head of the National Police, Inspector General Sofjan Jacoeb, had sworn to firmly deal with any groups conducting sweeping, the FPI and the other radical groups challenged the determination of the police and declared that they would continue with their plan to ‘sweep’ American nationals in Indonesia if the US attacked Afghanistan (Suara Karya, 22 September 2001). For the government it was all a matter of maintaining economic and political stability.
The loudest cry against sweeping naturally emanated from the hotel and tourism industry. The Minister of Culture and Tourism, I. Gede Ardika, in his opening speech at a discussion on tourism and world peace held by the Tourism Dialogue Forum and the Indonesia’s Society of Tourism (MPI), stated that sweeping was destructive to tourism since tourism relied heavily on security. Pontjo Sutowo, Chair of MPI, shared the same opinion. He warned that if the sweeping action had made it to CNN, even $10 million would have not been enough to restore the image of Indonesian tourism. Similarly, Yanti S. Hardjoprakoso, Chair of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), complained that several hotels in Bali had suffered a dramatic fall in occupancy due to the sweeping issue (Bisnis Indonesia, 27 September 2001).
Most respondents interviewed by newspapers and magazines voiced their disapproval of the sweeping act. One said that it too would amount to an act of terrorism; another said that it would bring shame to the Moslems in Indonesia. One particular respondent expressed that Indonesia should not waste its energy in meddling with other people’s business since it still had a lot of internal problems to deal with. He further said that though there were Indonesian workers murdered or raped in Saudi Arabia, nobody said anything (Suara Pembaruan, 26 September 2001). In addition, while the US double standard policy was considered appalling and the underlying economic motive behind its foreign policy no longer a secret, the US invasion of Afghanistan could be seen as a pretext for gaining control over the world’s oil reserves in the Caspian Valley. Bin Ladin was also harshly criticized by at least one writer.
Bambang Noorsena, Founder of the Institute for Syriac Christian Studies and Member of the Consultative Group for Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, questioned the motive of the 11 September attack: ‘Usamah may deny that he was the mastermind behind the 11 September incident, but the "logic of the civilized people" cannot understand why he repeatedly thanked God for the senseless human tragedy. Conversely, only a fanatic regime which ordered the destruction of the biggest Buddha statues in Bamiyan last February can possibly understand such "logic" ’ (my translation. Tempo, 29 October-4 November 2001, p. 141).
In addition to the threat of sweeping there was a call to boycott all US products in Indonesia, mainly from various youth organizations affiliated to Islamic groups (Republika, 27 September 2002). MUI, the Indonesian Ulama Council went further, demanding that the government freeze its diplomatic ties with the US (Kompas, 17 October 2001). Nevertheless, the strong reactions in response to the US decision to attack Afghanistan if Usamah Bin Ladin was not handed over to the US were hard to comprehend, especially given the fact that a search for the victims was still going on and their families were in mourning.
The issue of invasion almost entirely overtook the tragedy and, to a large extent, itself became so highly politicized that the woe was overshadowed by the preparation for war and the resulting opposition to it. On the other hand, the US too was held responsible for such a bizarre switch, as it had initiated it by fanning people’s rage too quickly and embellishing the human tragedy with a language imbued with war jargon. The world split the moment Bush declared that those who were not with the US were against it. The victims of the attack, consequently, were once again ‘victimized’ and became double losers since they were forgotten in the media, and the war with Afghanistan dominated the headlines.
In Indonesia, even those who opposed the anti-American sentiments did so more for economic reasons than out of sympathy for the victims of the 11 September attack. A headline in Kompas, on 7 October 2001 put it bluntly: ‘Pilih Sweeping atau Pemulihan Ekonomi?’ (Choosing Sweeping or Economic Recovery?). It highlighted the dilemma faced by Indonesia. Opposing the American invasion of Afghanistan could mean losing a chance to restore the economy of the country, which for a long time had suffered from a severe and prolonged economic crisis.
This was proved by a considerable fall of the Rupiah against the US dollar immediately after anti-American sentiments appeared. On the contrary, supporting the US invasion could have been interpreted as offensive by many Indonesian Moslems, and might have easily been used as evidence of President Megawati’s aloofness towards Islam. Suspicion about her secular tendency, considered un-Islamic, has long been kept alive by her opponents.
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce warned that export of Indonesian commodities to the US, such as textiles and shoes, would decline by 30% if the situation went on as it had at the time (Kompas, 7 October 2001). The Head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), A.M. Hendropriyono added fuel by stating that sweeping is a terrorist act (Suara Karya, 3 October 2001). Sweeping, he said, had to be ended since it was against the law and obstructed all efforts to fight terrorism. Even the Minister of Religious Affairs, Said Agil al Munawar, complained that the jihad declaration issued by the MUI a few days earlier had caused the Rupiah to dip vis-a-vis the US dollar.
He went further, threatening to cancel the citizenship of those who went to Afghanistan for jihad. Only Amien Rais, Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly, of all state dignitaries, openly expressed his support for jihad. Rais has long been known for his close relationship to radical Islamic organizations and knows how to play his cards well in a slippery political situation. He is also seen by many as Megawati’s most potential competitor for presidency in 2004.
Rais said that in principle he agreed with the MUI’s jihad declaration. The US invasion of Afghanistan would not matter if it was based on solid evidence, but if the target of the attack is Kabul, and thousands of people fall victims to it, Moslems all over the world would have to gear themselves up to fight the US (Republika, 2 October 2001). President Megawati eventually had to compromise Indonesia’s support for the US, a commitment she had made to Bush on her visit to America a week after the incident. In a speech delivered in the Istiqlal Mosque, she stated that nobody, no group, not even a government, could be allowed to attack another country or people in the name of capturing an actor of violence (Kompas, 16 October 2001). Many saw this as an indication that the President had given into fundamentalist groups’ demands, which could seriously jeopardize US-Indonesia relations.
The MUI naturally appreciated Megawati’s critical stance vis-a-vis US policy in Afghanistan, and its Executive Secretary, Din Syamsuddin, told the press that both the MUI and Megawati shared the same vision, i.e., Indonesia should become an independent nation (not relying on the US – my addition) (Kompas, 17 October 2001). For Megawati, this seemed the best way available to escape a slippery and delicate situation. She had to pacify the hardliners, and explicitly, while at the same time continue working with the United States and the ASEAN neighbours to fight terrorism, albeit covertly and cautiously.
So far, the House of Representatives has shown a considerable degree of reluctance in initiating an official debate on the proposed Bill on Terrorism given the sensitive nature of the issue, as well as the strong resistance shown by pro-democratic groups. These, strangely enough – as far as the Bill is concerned – are in an uneasy ‘alliance’ with fundamentalist groups who perceive the Bill as a direct threat to their activities and future existence. Activists of both persuasions strongly suspect that the Bill is proposed by the government as a substitute for the ill-fated Bill on the State of Emergency, previously proposed but indefinitely suspended, again because of staunch resistance from many democratic elements in Indonesia.
The Bill is also viewed as an outcome of US pressure on Indonesia to be more firm in fighting terrorism, in particular the local radical Islamic groups and movements that cannot be effectively shackled by the current penal code. For Lasykar Jihad, Majelis Mujahidin, and the FPI, the passing of the Bill as a law would mean an end to their free-ride on democracy’s back and the beginning of the government’s heavy-handed clampdown on their activities.
For many pro-democratic and civil society groups, if the Bill is approved by the House, it will be a nightmare come true since they have consistently been against all repressive attempts by the government to silence the people, even if the voice silenced is that of the fundamentalists. Even before the Bill has been approved, the government has already applied the term ‘terrorists’ to the Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM – Gerakan Aceh Merdeka), which has been struggling to free Aceh, a province in north Sumatra, from the republic.
Recently, two Indonesian nationals were arrested and imprisoned in the Philippines. They were charged with smuggling dangerous arms and explosives to the Philippines with the intention of destroying some US targets in that country. This added to the list of Indonesian nationals being tried in foreign courts after Agus Budiman, who was earlier put on trial in the United States for providing one of the 11 September hijackers with false documents.
The Indonesian nationals detained in the Philippines, Fathur Rohman al-Gozhy and Agus Dwikarna, were proven guilty and severely punished. Meanwhile, Agus Budiman was acquitted due to insufficient evidence, but still deported to Indonesia. At the moment the Indonesian government and its Filipino counterpart are working on a scheme to transfer inmates from the Philippines to Indonesia, as far as Indonesian nationals are concerned, without changing the verdict as well as the sentence issued by the Filipino court of law.
The impact of the series of arrests and trial of Indonesian nationals, both nationwide and internationally, should not be underestimated. The US Embassy in Jakarta recently announced that the process of getting a visa to enter the United States would require six to eight weeks, and there are stories of Indonesians with non-Christian names in their passports being denied entry to the US. According to some, it is difficult to even enter Singapore, though Indonesian nationals do not need visas to travel to any ASEAN country.
One must also think twice before travelling to Malaysia or the Philippines, since it is rumoured that both Fathur Rohman and Agus Dwikarna were victims of a secret frame-up by Indonesian Intelligence and Malaysian/Filipino police. They became pawns to catch bigger fish – the key figures behind all the radical groups in Indonesia who cannot be touched by the law until the Terrorism Bill is passed. The Bill would enable the security forces to bypass the law in order to clamp down on all suspected fundamentalist and terrorist-related groups and individuals.
The situation with regard to the United States remains ambiguous. On the one hand, many people feel that the 11 September attack has further distanced Indonesia from the US since Indonesia has not taken any significant and concrete steps in battling terrorism within its own territory in comparison to what Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines have demonstrated so far. On the other hand, Colin Powell’s recent visit to Indonesia, and his explicit commitment to the lifting of the US arms sales embargo is read by others as a strong indication of closer ties between the United States and Indonesia in combatting local terrorist groups.
The passing of the Terrorism Bill, viewed as one of the most undemocratic legislations by Indonesian civil society, maybe a desired outcome for both the Indonesian government, which is trying to restore its authority and power after a long crisis of legitimacy, and the United States, which is more than eager to see that all elements related to the international terrorist network useimg Indonesia as their safe haven are uprooted and eliminated.
The 11 September tragedy/attack is a polysemic signifier whose meaning in the Indonesian context has become a site of struggle for different interests and groups. For the Islamic hardliners, it came as a golden opportunity for demanding more power for Moslems, as well as pressing the Megawati Sukarnoputri administration to conform to the Islamic agenda. It was the post 11 September war preparations that provided the opportunity and the power to the hardliners, ironically at the expense of the lives of Moslem people of Afghanistan.
For politicians, such as Amien Rais, the incident opened the door for gaining a more solid footing in the race for the presidency in 2004 by siding with the hardliners and openly undermining Megawati, who represented the state’s official position regarding the matter. For economic players and the tourism industry, what mattered was not the huge numbers who died in the 11 September attack, nor the equally huge number of Afghan people who would become the casualties of US attack. It was more profit and economic gain that was at stake. Any threat to US citizens living and working in Indonesia and any sign of weakness shown by Megawati in her position concerning the demand of the fundamentalist groups would mean economic catastrophe and loss of profit.
On the other hand, a more complex signifying process can be discerned in the media representation of the 11 September attack and its aftermath. Newspapers and magazines with an Islamic background demonstrated a highly critical but balanced view on the many issues related to the attack (both on the WTC/Pentagon and on Afghanistan). Some even effectively managed to construct another face of Islam, one which was more understanding and compassionate than the negative one created by the hardliners. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to accurately map the ideological stances of the Moslem press and distinguish them from the non-Moslem, although there are, of course, openly extreme Islamic publications such as Sabilii, which never stop fuelling antagonism between Islam and anything considered un-Islamic.
It can be further argued that the Moslem press in general made a joint effort with the secular press in countering the fundamentalist drive in Indonesia in the event of an attack by America. When the US did attack Afghanistan, this could have fuelled real, violent internal conflict in Indonesia. The press in general strongly questioned the wisdom of US policy concerning the matter, but also rejected any attempt by hardline Islamic groups to manipulate the media to mobilize anger and hatred among Indonesian Moslems.
Local media portrayal of the attack, however, was also successful in generating a critical discourse against the United States with its unilateral tendency bordering on arrogance. This was strengthened by the almost close-door policy of the United States in terms of Indonesian nationals travelling to that country, which seems to be based on the conflation of Indonesia as the country with the largest Moslem population and as a fertile ground for terrorist activities. At the moment, antagonism or at least scepticism towards the United States is quite strong, although it is not expressed in an overtly hostile demonstration, such as what happened right before the invasion of Afghanistan. In the ASEAN context, the commotion has resulted in some ill-feeling among many Indonesians towards their neighbours, even as official contact and cooperation has been intensified to optimize efforts to fight terrorism in the region.
Finally, it can be said that thanks to the odd, uneasy, but effective ‘alliance’ between radical groups and pro-democratic elements, the Terrorism Bill has so far failed to materialize, and this can be perceived as a victory for fundamentalist forces. Lasykar Jihad, Majelis Mujahidin, the FPI, and other radical organizations are free to continue their operations in the country, while the security forces remain passive since there is not much they can do until they are able to convincingly prove that these groups are connected with or participating in terrorism. Various elements in Indonesia are apparently willing to unite, notwithstanding the fundamental differences that exist among them, in order to resist US efforts to mobilize against the war on terrorism through undemocratic means and thereby intervene in Indonesia’s domestic affairs. This is the least Indonesians can do after their total failure to stop the economic intervention and domination of US-affiliated world monetary bodies, such as the IMF and the World Bank.
* Initially presented at the pre-conference symposium of the International Communication Association (ICA), ‘War, Media, Globalization, Cultural Studies’ at the Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies, University of Tokyo, Japan, 11-12 July 2002. The paper has undergone substantial revision for publication.
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