Societal Impact of the Internet in Indonesia

The Internet, once the exclusive domain of computer scientists and government agencies, has become a global, information phenomenon, reflecting the best and worst of human society. It facilitates and empowers movements that seek social change, yet at the same time facilitates the spread of terrorism and empowers terrorist organizations in their recruitment, propaganda and indoctrination efforts.

In Indonesia[1], the Internet has proven itself as a powerful tool for positive social change, assisting in the downfall of the Suharto regime – a precedent in the use of the Internet that will likely serve as a model for years to come. In fact, David Plotz, in a article he wrote for, argues that the Internet will – in the Iraqi context – enable grass-roots movements to access educational information on issues important to the movement, and to spread that information to other interested parties, in a much faster fashion than previously possible; he goes on to suggest that such movements will then be able to recruit other interested individuals and partner with similarly focused groups, all via the Internet (Plotz, 2003). Plotz’s hypothetical scenario is basically the process that occurred in Indonesia which culminated in the resignation of Suharto and the downfall of his government, approximately five years before Plotz published his article![2]

The history of the Internet in Indonesia dates back to the mid 1990s, while in the late 1980s, Indonesian students in other countries began developing “Internet communities” (@rchipelago, 61). Early computer networking development was spearheaded by the academic and scientific centers, and these efforts produced the early incarnations of Indonesian internet access (@rchipelago, 61)

What came as a surprise to those familiar with the development of the Internet in Indonesia was that the government under Suharto, his “New Order” government, while dictatorial, was a late-comer to the Indonesian Internet development (@rchipelago, 62). The government’s first attempt to dictate a “national agenda for Internet development” came in 1996, but failed to make any impact (@rchipelago, 62). Another attempt by the Indonesian government – this time after Suharto’s resignation- to assert its authority over Internet development similarly failed (@rchipelago, 62). These failures by the government to control or manage Indonesian development meant that Internet access was sporadic throughout the archipelago (@rchipelago, 62). As late as 2005, the publication date of “@rchipelago Online”, Internet access provided by ISP (Internet Service Providers) was not available in a number of rural areas; users had to connect to the Internet via long distance calls to access points in other areas (@rchipelago, 62).

From 1990-1995, Internet access was only available in universities and research institutions; in the period from 1995-1996, the Internet became available in some Indonesian university cities like Jakarta, Bangdung and Yogyakarta, as indicated by the red circles in Figure 1, and ISPs made the Internet available to those who could afford it (Couldry[3], 276). In late 1997, the Internet became available in major cities on Java and Sumatra, as indicated by the yellow circles below, and in late 1998, Internet access became available in Sulawesi and eastern Indonesia, as represented by the blue circles below (Couldry, 276).

Figure 1: Spread of Internet access in Indonesia[4]

As can be seen in Figure 2, the number of Internet users and subscribers has climbed dramatically in Indonesia, from 15,000 – 20,000 in 1995, to roughly 16 million just ten years later!

Figure 2: Growth of Internet “subscribers and users” in Indonesia[5]

What’s more, from this chart we can see that most Indonesian Internet users did not subscribe to Internet service providers which means they access (at least through 2005) the Internet from either work, school or universities, and/or Indonesian Internet cafes known as “warnets”[6] (@rchipelago, 65).

One of the most powerful characteristics of the Internet is the way it can facilitate political activism. According to Merlyna Lim, for a medium to be of value to “less dominant” groups in society, the medium must be difficult to surveil and censor, must have to capability for “one-to-one and many-to-many communications”, and must be widely available to society at large and affordable enough for the masses to access (Islamic Radicalism, 6). The Internet fits this criteria perfectly. Due to its redundant nature, the Internet is very difficult to censor, (unless the government were to require all Internet access to and from its national borders to pass through a government filtering system), and difficult to surveil for all but the most knowledgeable computer experts. As the Internet technology expanded in the 1990s, access became more and more widely available in Indonesia, and with the development of mailing lists and email systems, the Internet became a valuable means for disseminating information to large numbers of people. Beyond the above-mentioned reasons for the Internet’s importance to marginalized social groups, several other reasons stand out; first, the Internet allows for more rapid dissemination of information about a particular event than the “more traditional media”, second, the Internet makes it possible for people in distant locations to share their experiences with others (Islamic Radicalism, 8). The third, and perhaps most unique feature of the Internet relates to one’s ability to assume various online identities, which is especially relevant to communities with dominant religious norms (Islamic Radicalism, 9-10). For example, Lim presents the scenario in which a young Muslim living in Indonesia could be a member of a “Coca Cola world” online community and at the same time “associate as a citizen of one nation-state” (Islamic Radicalism, 10). On the other hand, it is also possible for an Internet user to be a member of “Coca-Cola world”, and a member of an online Islamic community, and at the same time a member of an online pornography site. Thus the anonymity of Internet identities can be a force for both positive socialization by enabling users to associate with others in a given online community, and negative socialization through making vices now just a mouse-click away.

As the Internet grew more and more into the role of an alternate source for information, the “warnet” came into existence and grew in popularity. “Warnet”, a combination of the words “warung” and “Internet”, was an Internet café initially linked to the “Warung”, a commonplace item in Indonesian culture (Couldry, 276-277). Warungs were places where lower-middle and lower classes would buy snacks or meals and socialize with friends and/or family; they could be located in the front part of a house, or a room extension in front of the house, or even at the street (Couldry, 277). Additionally, warungs had bamboo curtains – “krepyak” –which would cover the front side of the structure, providing both privacy and protection from the sun street (Couldry, 277). Like warungs, warnets are also located in the front of houses or at the street, use wood and bamboo to give users the feel of a warung, and use bamboo curtains to offer protection from the sun and/or to separate computer terminals street (Couldry, 278). Furthermore, warnets are not just a place where users can access the Internet, but the warnet itself is a source of social interaction(@rchipelago, 83-85).

Figure 3: a warnet in Indonesia[7]

The first warnet was in Bogor, a small Indonesian town, and users at this warnet were provided free snacks such as fried banana – piseng goring (@rchipelago, 75). Here, users could rent computer time; however, due to technological constraints at the time, only one of the computers had an Internet connection (@rchipelago, 75). From this modest beginning in 1996, warnets spread to Surabaya, Jakarta, Yogyakarta; from 1997 onwards, warnets expanded “exponentially”, to such an extent that by 2004, warnet users accounted for 45-60% of Indonesian Internet users (@rchipelago, 75, 83). These warnets played an important role in bringing the “information age” to Indonesian society, and the empowerment that such Internet access brings.

During the last several years of Suharto’s regime, the Internet truly became a powerful political force in Indonesia, as the press – radio, television and print – were under the control of the Suharto regime and were not allowed to print information that would cast a negative light on the regime (Couldry, 280). In this repressive situation, the Internet was a critical outlet for disseminating information on Suharto’s corruption (Couldry, 280). The most influential report regarding Suharto’s corruption was the “Daftar Kekayaan Suharto” or “list of Suharto’s wealth” (Couldry, 280). This information was originally compiled by Aditjondro, an Indonesian professor teaching at the University of New Castle, Australia, and consisted of four emails detailing how Suharto used his “charity” foundations to hide his corrupt business dealings, names of those involved with Suharto, and the amounts of money that changed hands (Couldry, 280-281). On January 31, 1998 Aditjondro forwarded the emails to John MacDouggal, who moderated Apakabar, and to others; MacDouggal in turn distributed these emails to recipients of the Apakabar mailing list on February 1, 1998 (Couldry, 281). Other initial recipients followed suit, namely the Germany-based Munindo, Pijar, and SiaR, which uploaded the information to their web sites and/or distributed it via their own e-mail lists (Couldry, 281). From here, other websites linked to this information, at times changing the title and abridging the information to shorten the ‘list’, and even simply summarizing or paraphrasing the information, making this expose more accessible by the average citizen (Couldry, 281). Demonstrating the power of the Internet to ‘snowball’ or ‘amplify’ a message, by March – April, 1998, the ‘list of Suharto’s wealth’ had achieved its goal of spreading far and wide, by Internet activists (Couldry, 281). What happened next was the phase-shift from cyberspace to print-space; in April 1998, an online magazine went live – “Indonesia Baru” – which gave users of their site five suggestions for disseminating the information posted on “Indonesia Baru” (Couldry, 281). Two of these suggestions are noteworthy: the first was to print out the home page and fax it to others, and the second was to simply make copies of the print-out and hand the copies out to people; other websites issued the same suggestions (Couldry, 281). This was a significant transition of information from cyberspace to physical space[8] in that during the period of April – May 1998, faxes were appearing in offices in major cities all over Indonesia, the most common such fax was the ‘list of Suharto’s wealth’ (Couldry, 281). The net effect of these faxes was that a broad segment of Indonesia – “from directors to janitors” – were made aware of this information and they themselves became willing participants in its further dissemination (Couldry, 281). Warnets in Bandung posted the website printout and warnet users then disseminated this information to other warnet users as well as handing out copies to non-Internet users (Couldry, 281). By March – May 1998, the ‘list of Suharto’s wealth’ was found on the streets of Indonesia; newspaper sellers and street vendors sold copies at “traffic lights, gas stations, and bus stops and stations”, yet the spread of this information didn’t stop there. It was soon being transmitted by word of mouth, by two unique social catalysts in Jakarta: taxi drivers and the owners of warungs near universities (Couldry, 281-282). Interestingly, the taxi drivers would disseminate information on student demonstrations to their passengers, as theses drivers kept abreast of the traffic conditions and reasons for traffic jams, while the owners of warungs near campuses interacted with students and grew sympathetic to their cause (Couldry, 282). Combined with other similar “hubs” for disseminating such information, the number of people that now had access to this type of anti Suharto information grew tremendously (Couldry, 282). According to Merlyna Lim, the net effect of the effective and varied means of distributing this information was that “resistance identities” were created and expanded outward “from a small segment of society to the mass scale of civil society” (Couldry, 282). In May 1998, the societal agitation from this information flow, combined with repressive military crackdowns in which some students were killed, reached critical mass; a “political revolution” began which led to the resignation of Suharto on May 21, 1998 (Couldry, 282). Figure 4 below shows a flow chart of the progression of this grass-roots movement, and the areas in which the Internet and warung contributed.

Figure 4: Flow Chart of the Internet’s Involvement in Suharto’s Downfall[9]

Layer 2 Informed public takes to the streets and Suharto resigns on 21 May 1998
Layer 4 Mass Civil Action
April 98

Info had spread through cyber-space

The power of the Internet which enabled Indonesian citizens living under the repressive Suharto regime to mobilize and bring down the government can be attributed to the phenomenon of “amplification”, detailed by Daniel Kimmage and Kathleen Ridolfo in their article “Iraq Insurgent Media: The War of Images and Ideas”. According to these authors, amplification is the process whereby a message begins as a simple text, audio or video file posted to a web site and is then spread by sympathizers from around the world to a global audience, transferring at some point from cyberspace to ‘physical space’ as media outlets use the information in their print and broadcast productions. In Iraq, insurgents post such files online, and these files are then distributed to other sites by sympathizers, greatly expanding the audience; from here, this information jumps from cyberspace to ‘physical space’ as media outlets such as Al Jazeera pick up this information and print and broadcast it to an even greater audience. In Indonesia, a surprisingly similar phenomenon occurred, validating this theory of amplification, ironically, long before it was observed in Iraq! As was seen in the situation with the downfall of Suharto, a message that began as four emails written by an Indonesian professor in Australia in 1998 – five years before the U.S. even invaded Iraq – was so rapidly spread via both the Internet and the accompanying jump to physical space, that in just four months these emails contributed greatly to Suharto’s eventual resignation. This phenomenon was also seen in the situation with Laskar Jihad and the conflict in the Maluku islands. Laskar Jihad would post information to its website which was then spread to sympathetic websites; other websites – both Islamic and secular, Indonesian and global – devoted web pages to jihad in the Maluku conflict (Islamic Radicalism, 22). Personal web sites as well as “official websites of Indonesian universities and schools” actually provided links to Laskar Jihad Online (Islamic Radicalism, 22)! Additionally, Indonesian online newspapers such as, and turned to Laskar Jihad’s website as their source for information on the Maluku conflict, often simply reprinting the Laskar Jihad information with no independent verification of facts or modification of the text (Islamic Radicalism, 22). Furthermore, Lim notes that Laskar Jihad leveraged the Internet to assert “a global identity” by publishing online various fatwas from Saudi and Yemeni Salafist sheikhs calling on Indonesian Muslims to wage jihad against Christians, apparently in Maluku, in retaliation for the perceived aggression of the Christians there (Islamic Radicalism, 17).

From a more theoretical perspective, there are three unique aspects to Laskar Jihad’s use of the Internet as identified by Merlyna Lim. The first is that Laskar Jihad was possibly the most advanced Indonesian mass organization in terms of its use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), second, Laskar Jihad successfully combined ICT with more traditional media (print and electronic) in addition to in-person communication which “amplified” Laskar Jihad’s influence well beyond what would have been possible using either type of media by itself, third, Laskar Jihad demonstrated that state-of-the-art technology can be integrated with “traditional, conservative ideology”, in this case, conservative Islamic ideals (Islamic Radicalism, 14).

As in Iraq, the positive benefits of widespread Internet access not only empowered the disenfranchised, but also the terrorist element. Terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiya (which has links to al-Qaeda) use the Internet to further their efforts in numerous ways: distributing propaganda, recruitment, raising funds, coordinating bomb attacks, and communication (“Asian Security”, 2006). Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on militants who is based in Singapore, stated that “…groups such as Jemaah Islamiya are using the Internet as a medium to create a new generation of radicalized Muslims”; in fact, as of May, 2006 there were in excess of 1000 jihadist Web sites in Southeast Asia (“Asian Security”, 2006)! Riduan Isamudin (Hambali), the suspected former head of Jemaah Islamiya, used the Internet to communicate with those involved in the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people were killed (“Asian Security”, 2006). Imam Samudra, on death row for the 2002 Bali bombings, had a wireless laptop smuggled into his prison cell which he used to connect to the Internet to communicate with conspirators to plan another “deadly attack” on Indonesian territory[10] (Forbes, 2006)!

What makes the Internet difficult to surveil and censor, and therefore useful to marginalized social groups looking for a political voice, also enables terrorists to recruit new terrorist candidates. Several tools are used in this effort: limited access Websites provide a password-protected world in which those allowed in can, in theory, access dangerous material such as bomb making manuals, attack instruction sheets…etc. (Weimann, 2005). Furthermore, those allowed in can and are monitored by those managing the website for any signs of sympathy for the site’s particular cause, and once the moderators feel confident that the particular user is sincere, they can contact him or her and begin the cautious recruiting process away from the prying ‘eyes’ of security forces (Weinmann, 2005). Chat rooms are another such tool. Religious chat rooms such as Ahlussunnah and CafeIslam enabled Imam Samudra to communicate, possibly conspire, prior to the second Bali bombing (Forbes, 2006). Email can obviously also be used to communicate, especially when secured with encryption software which makes decoding the messages virtually impossible. Secure video and audio communications packages for personal computers such as PalTalk have become popular with terrorist recruiters as it allows secure audio and video communication with prospective recruits (Weinmann, 2005). Lastly, cellular technology has become yet another option for terrorists as an alternate method of communication, however, this method is not terribly secure, since the cellular conversations and SMS messaging pass through the cellular provider’s transmission equipment, and thus the provider can ‘listen in’ whenever the government orders it, and security forces can track a user’s location based on the signal from his cell phone.

What follows is a discussion of the former web presence of Laskar Jihad, the current web presence of the group claiming to be Darul Islam, and the web presence of the Liberal Islamic Network (JIL), which is a moderating voice in the Islamic discourse.

To begin with, Laskar Jihad closed down its organization shortly after the 2002 Bali bombings, therefore, the web site screen shots I have included were found on a site that archives web pages. The first thing that one notices when looking at the web site is its PR-friendly design. There is a “question of the day” section, as well as regularly-updated “message of the day”, current news stories from Laskar’s point of view, and “About Us” section to give readers an introduction to the organization, photos[11] of alleged massacres of Muslims serving to agitate Muslim viewers, and finally, a “services section” which invites users to spread the news about Laskar’s website. On certain dates, Laskar Jihad offers justifications for jihad in places like Poso[12], Ambon[13] and Maluku, so this site was not only informational, it was also for the purpose of promoting militant activism. Furthermore, Laskar Jihad also offered justifications for the lethal enforcement of Sharia law in Indonesia (See Appendix B). Laskar Jihad’s web site also makes a bold statement in that it lists three different banks and bank accounts for those who want to donate, physical addresses for postal delivery and phone numbers of contacts.

Figure 5: A Sample of Laskar Jihad’s Web Site[14]

Darul Islam began in the 1950s as rebellions in West Java, South Sulawesi and Aceh, and, according to a 2005 Crisis Group Asia Report, continues today as a very loose but “enduring web of personal contacts that extends to most of the major islands in Indonesia” (Recycling Militants, 2005). The degree to which Darul Islam is still active notwithstanding, someone is maintaining a web presence under their name, and the web site is very PR-savvy, much more so than even Laskar Jihad’s site was. Some of the features on this website are[15]:

Downloads, eCards, eGallery, Muslim Baby Name Suggestions, Community options
Quotes from the Quran to establish their orthodoxy
Online Online radio station that gives listeners the choice of listening in Windows Media Player, Real Player, Itunes,
The ability to buy online the teaching/sermon/music that is broadcast on the station
A children’s section
Islamic Videos online
Login Account Creation for special access (Identification of users of such sites can lead to site monitors contacting sympathetic users and attempting to recruit them)
Links to External Pages
Newsletter Subscription and Search Engine

Figure 6: Screenshot of the Darul Islam Web Page

The last Indonesian web site I will address is that of JIL, the Liberal Islamic Network. The JIL presents a moderate counter to the more radical Islamic sites, and utilizes the same types of user-friendly approaches as the Laskar Jihad and Darul Islam sites. I have included a screen shot below of the January 6, 2008 version of the web page[16].

As can be seen in this screen shot, the JIL presents an English edition to their page, and has options for downloading electronic books. This site is clearly aimed at education of the web visitor, with discussions, articles and interviews able for browsing.

In conclusion, it is clear that the Internet has been a powerful force for social empowerment in Indonesia. From assisting in bringing down the Suharto regime to facilitating a moderate voice in the Islamic discourse, the Internet has been and is being used in Indonesia in ways that observers of the Middle East have theorized would be seen in the Middle East. Indeed, radical Islamic innovations in the use of the Internet were pioneered in Indonesia as much as five years prior to similar innovations in Iraq, yet, perhaps due to the inattention paid to Indonesia by those who study radical Islam, these innovations were credited to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his successors, and not to groups in Indonesia. In the final analysis, whether the Internet is seen as a positive or negative force for socialization in Indonesia will depend in large measure on which aspect is evaluated. Certainly the use of the Internet to stir up jihadist sympathies and to put a radical Islamic spin on news events is not a positive use of the Internet, as it represents the manipulation of the Internet for violent purposes. On the other hand, the use of the Internet to empower the voiceless masses living under Suharto’s regime must be viewed as not only a positive use of the Internet as an information distribution medium, but also as a pioneering innovation in social empowerment. Lastly it should be noted that Indonesia pioneered uses of the Internet which will likely serve as templates in similar environments for years to come.
Appendix A

Laskar Jihad’s Web-Justification for Involvement in Poso[17]

Central Board of
Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah Communication Forum

: 1.


Jl. Kaliurang Km 15 Tromol pos 08, Pakem, Sleman, Yogyakarta 55582 – Indonesia
Phone/Fax: +62-0274-895790
Jl. Cempaka Putih Tengah XXVIB No. 78 Jakarta 10510 – Indonesia
Phone/Fax: +62-021-4246417
Why Laskar Jihad is Heading to Poso?
By: Ayip Syafruddin

The conflict in Poso has cast a dark shadow over Islam-Christian relations in the region. Despite denial by many parties, the fighting has been clearly fueled by religious fervor. The unmistakable involvements of many Christian priests in the field have shown the true weight that religion bears in the conflict. Three examples can be cited to support this claim.

The testimonies of Thayeb and his son Aco from the village of Sangira, North Pamona mentioning their capture by the Dominggus da Silva led �red� forces. Following Thayeb�s unwillingness to comply with the captor�s demands of conversion (to the Christian faith), he was tortured and now suffers many ailments including permanent damage to his hearing.

Priest Neil Alamako headed logistical support operations for troops led by Fabius Tibo. Testimony from Serka Nasirun, member of a local security force backed this claim, which was provided in proceedings recognized by the courts. Fabius Tibo�s driver, Vence, provided a letter written by Fabius Tibo that also implicated the Church in providing Christian fighters with logistical support.

Mrs. Rustia from the village of Tokorondo filed a report alleging an attack on her Husband and brother in law by Christian forces. In her testimony she claimed that one of the assailants was a minister by the name of Tangkis of which Mrs. Rustia claimed to have known personally. The case against the attackers (police no: STPL/123/VIII/2000/Polda) that has been brought forward has until now been abandoned by Central Sulawesi police, despite Mrs. Rustia�s testimony.

From the various evidence and testimonies, it is no longer possible to refute the influence of religion in the on going attacks in Poso. The truth of the matter is the people in Poso have been divided into two camps: the Muslim camp and the Christian camp. Not just civilians, but also government troops are dragged into this predicament.

To allege that this conflict has no religious bearing is to make ignorant the very people who are directly affected by the violence. The unwillingness of certain parties to open up and clearly admit the true causes behind the bloodshed will prolong the fighting even further causing the groundwork that is to be laid for a solution to be unclear.

There are many theories abound as to the origins of the conflict. Stemming from the unconventional such as individual skirmishes or the disputes of local parliamentarians, to the more credible scenarios. A source of trouble rarely explored, but equally as forceful is the ambitiousness of missionaries in the region to convert Muslims into non-believers. Currently, in many areas these groups use social and cultural approaches, but in other regions where they have considerable bureaucratic power, more physical and forceful approaches are taken. These conditions are often not met by the Muslim communities with the level of attention it deserves. The New Order regime that lasted 32 years has systematically manipulated the Ummah psyche in such a way as to delude them of the practical existence of a �Dakwah� battle between the faiths. To maintain stability, more often than not the New Order regime would distort the truths behind various conflicts in the aim of suppressing emotions within the Ummah.

With this perspective in mind the conflict in Poso must be handled with a realistic approach. The conditions in the field must be used as a basis for proper policy making in the hope of providing a viable solution for the problem. Without such an approach, the attempts for amity will be seen as an artificial make-up job unsupported by the grass roots. The fires for which the conflict burns will only be temporarily put to rest, while the source of the flames remain unsecured. Therefore a comprehensive resolution to the fighting must include the rounding up and trial of all known elements and individuals instigating the violence. Only then will justice be brought to the Muslim communities in the area. Failed half-baked reconciliation efforts in the past have aroused further the suspicions of Muslims to such attempts, as one does not have to look farther than Maluku to realize the problems such schemes present. It would be wise for all parties concerned to learn from the mistakes made by the neighboring state. The failed reconciliation efforts in Maluku can be a clear and valuable source of experience for laying the foundations for an ultimate resolution.

Laskar Jihad entering Poso

Entering its third year, the conflict in Poso has not shown signs of relief any time soon. The attack on Muslims by the �red� armies has yet to cease. The recent sadistic murder of Hanafi Manganti has proven that the violence in the region continues to escalate. Security forces have yet to take concrete steps into resolving such cases of brutality. Whether an incident lacks, or is in abundance of, evidence and testimonies linking it to the assailant, the stance made by government authorities seems to be clear –which is one of reluctance to provide closure. These cases and many more are clear proof that the interests and safety of Muslims in the region are far from guaranteed. The police and security forces would no doubt gain the support of the Muslim community if only steps were made to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. But the unfortunate truth to the situation is that Muslims in Poso do not have such support and therefore have become the victim of continuous violence. This is the reason why Laskar Jihad has found it necessary to bring its forces in to the region.

For that reason Laskar Jihad is rolling out a Jihad Fi Sabilillah movement, conducting it in an open manner. It is Laskar Jihad�s belief that all Muslims, in particular those who reside in the region, have a duty to help their brothers and sisters in Poso. Harnessing the individual skills possessed by Muslims from all walks of life, the potential of the Ummah must be maximized. They all must unite to form a straight and formidable shaf to defend their way of life.

A concrete application of this Jihad includes one of advocacy. Muslim lawyers from throughout the country are urged to support the Jihad movement by defending the rights of Jihad activists as well as bringing those responsible for many of the attacks to justice. For those belonging to security forces, the responsibility still exists also for them to contribute to the defense of their brothers and sisters. The honour and existence of the Ummah must continually be defended in the midst of attacks by international Cross-Zionist activities. As Muslims we must adamantly believe that a solution to the current problem in Poso involves a movement towards Jihad Fi Sabilillah. Jihad is an action that is an application of the Islamic faith and therefore is legal by the laws of the Republic of Indonesia. Jihad is an activity that stems from the belief that an individual has towards a faith he or she has adopted and therefore there is no reason why anybody should stop or capture those actively participating in such a movement.

At the moment, there is an obvious and pressing need for security in Poso. Laskar Jihad Ahluss Sunnah Wal Jamaah believes that by cultivating a positive mental approach within the Muslim community, especially those with refugee status, on top of ensuring safety in the streets, will help rid many Muslims of the fear of returning to their homes and communities. To ensure success in this process, it must heavily involve the community by encouraging their participation in many of its activities. Only then will the community at large feel the positive effects of the program.

Multidimensional Approach

Due to the prolonged conflict, the problem in Poso has become increasingly complex. Therefore the approach that must be taken must be one that integrates all of the parties involved in the defense of the Ummah. For this purpose, Laskar Jihad will be deploying not only ground troop volunteers but also those in the field of advocacy, health care, logistics, Dakwah, public relations and other areas that help support this noble movement. Diplomatic action is also being taken in Jakarta where news of the developments in the field is relayed to the broader Muslim communities as well as those in the position of central authority.

In addressing the current security issues, it is important for the security forces to deal with the instigators of violence in the region. Reconciliation efforts have been used as an excuse far too long for the complacency of the security forces in dealing with those responsible for the violence and in providing the closure needed to quell the continuing fighting. Justice must first be served prior to any reconciliation efforts from taking place. Reconciliation by ignoring the attacks and the cruelty against Muslims in the past will not hold ground and in the end solves nothing. The sins against Islam must be acknowledged and dealt with to allow a clean slate for a foundation of peace to be laid. Security forces and government officials must be encouraged to take the straight and evenhanded path. The attitude to shift the problem towards a reconciliation effort devoid of justice must be stopped.

In any case, the patience of a community oppressed can only hold for so long. If the unfairness continues, it is only a matter of time until the collective community will decide to act in its own accordance as a culmination from the prevention of justice from taking place. This can happen if and when the officers responsible for security no longer have the will to bring about equality and fairness to the oppressed Muslim community.
Allahu �Alam bish-Shawwab

The writer is the head of the Communication Forum Ahluss Sunnah Wal Jamaah
(FKAWJ), which provide for Laskar Jihad Ahluss Sunnah Wal Jamaah.

(This is a loose translation of the written statement)

Copyright � 2000 Laskar Jihad

Appendix B

Laskar Jihad Justification for Enforcement of Sharia in Indonesia[18]

Central Board of
Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah Communication Forum

: 1.


Jl. Kaliurang Km 15 Tromol pos 08, Pakem, Sleman, Yogyakarta 55582 – Indonesia
Phone/Fax: +62-0274-895790
Jl. Cempaka Putih Tengah XXVIB No. 78 Jakarta 10510 – Indonesia
Phone/Fax: +62-021-4246417
Laskar Jihad Enforces Shari’ah Against a Member
“Nor come nigh to adultery for it is a wickedness and an evil path.” (Al-Quran 17:32)

Ambon, (March 30, 2001)
The first punishment in accordance with Shari’ah law was enforced by Laskar Jihad against one of its members for committing adultery. Laskar Jihad member, Abdullah, (30 yrs) was stoned to death on Tuesday, 03/27/2001 at 4pm in the village of Ahuru.

While being interrogated, Abdullah admitted to the sin. He stated that he had committed this sin on Friday (03/23) at 4:30 am with a woman from the Ponegoro village in Nusaniwe. Before a sentence was handed down against him, Abdullah repented and sincerely accepted his punishment.

This was demonstrated by his calm demeanor and patient attitude during which other Laskar Jihad members embraced him and said their goodbyes to him for the last time. Abdullah’s last words were that he sincerely accepted the punishment and that he “only expected ALlah Subhanaa wa Ta ala to forgive him, insha Allah.” After his death, Abdullah’s body was buried in accordance with Islamic law.

The shari’ah court was led by Ustadz Ja’far, commander of Laskar Jihad. Additionally, it was also attended by various Muslim leaders of Ambon. In his speech before handing down the verdict, Ustadz Ja’far stated that according to Islamic shari’ah, punishment for a man who did adultery is: if he is single, he must be whipped one hundred times, however, married people that commit adultery must be stoned to death.

Ustadz Ja’far also added that maybe the punishment was enforced for the first time in Indonesia. He went on to say,”at a glance, for most people, this punishment was not civilized, but behind it, there’s a great wisdom.” Ustadz Ja’far reminded the Muslims not to pity those that committed this sin and that a group of Muslims must witness the punishment.

Copyright � 2001 Laskar Jihad

Appendix C

Screen shots of Laskar Jihad Web Section Dealing with Ambon[19]
List Of Works Cited

“Asian security meet warns of terrorist assault via Internet” InfoSec News, 22 May 2006, 23 October 2007. .

Couldry, N. and J. Curran[20]. Contesting Media Power: Alternative Media in A Networked World. Rowan & Littlefield, 2003.

Forbes, Mark and Deborah Snow. “Arrests Expose Internet Fundraising for Terrorism” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August, 2006, 19 November 2007. .

“Internet linking up militants in Indonesia” Strait Times, 21 November 2005, 19 November 2007.

Kimmage, Daniel, Kathleen Ridolfo. “Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War of Images and Ideas.” Washington, D.C.: RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, June 2007. 11 July, 2007. .

Lim, Merlyna. @rchipelago Online: The Internet and Political Activism in Indonesia. Diss. University of Twente, 2005.

Lim, Merlyna. “Islamic Radicalism and Anti-Americanism in Indonesia: The Role of the Internet” Policy Studies 18, Washington: East-West Center, 2005. .

Plotz, David. “Iraq’s Civil War.”, 2 May 2003. 12 March 16, 2007. .

“Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Embassy Bombing.” International Crisis Group, Asia Report No. 92. 22 February 2005, 4 April, 2008. .

Weimann, Gabriel. “How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet.” The Journal of International Security Affairs, Spring 2005, Number 8. 8 November 2007. .

[1] Unfortunately, the overwhelming research on this topic was conducted by one person, Merlyna Lim, and thus much of this paper will be single sourced as independent verification is not possible at this time.

[2] It is interesting to me that the sources I used in my research on the social impact of the Internet in Iraq (such as David Plotz), seemed unaware of the Indonesian context in that they attributed certain Internet innovations to the Iraqi situation post-2003 U.S. invasion, innovations which clearly were pioneered in Indonesia.

[3] The citations referring to Couldry in fact refer to “The Internet, Social Networks, and Reform in Indonesia” by Merlyna Lim, which is published in N. Couldry’s and J. Curran’s Contesting Media Power: Alternative Media in A Networked World. The page numbers in my citations reflect the numbering in Merlyna Lim’s article which I downloaded as a .pdf, however, there are in fact only 16 pages in this pdf article. Therefore, since I do not have Couldry’s book, I have to assume those page numbers actually refer to the page numbers in Contesting Media Power: Alternative Media in A Networked World.

[4] Map of Indonesia as found at accessed 4/4/08

[5] (@rchipelago, 64).

[6] I have only found Internet usage statistics for Indonesia through 2005. It is very likely that the growth has only continued since that time.

[7] (Couldry, 277-278)

[8] The concept of cyber-space versus physical space is a concept that Merlyna Lim discusses in her article “Cyber-Urban Activism and the Political Change in Indonesia”.

[9] The information in this chart was gleaned from “The Internet and Reform in Indonesia” by Merlyna Lim, pages 280-282 which is published in N. Couldry’s and J. Curran’s Contesting Media Power: Alternative Media in A Networked World.

[10] As a former IT Manager tasked with computer network security, I find it highly suspicious that Samudra was able to access a wireless network from his prison cell. Given the fact that the range of most personal wireless networks is about 100 meters, Samudra either accessed an unsecured prison wireless network which is highly problematic if true, was given a username and password for the prison wireless network which is again highly problematic, was able to access a wireless signal from outside the prison, or was provided a cell phone with which to connect (officials wouldn’t confirm he used a cell phone to connect). It is logical to assume that whoever smuggled the laptop to him made sure that there would be a wireless signal close enough to his cell that he would have Internet access or that he was provided with a cell phone, which indicates at the very least, poor planning by prison officials tasked with managing an extremely dangerous prisoner.

[11] The photos were not included in the archived web pages so I have no way to include examples.

[12] See Appendix A for Laskar Jihad’s lengthy justification for its involvement in Poso

[13] See Appendix C for a screen shot of the “Jihad in Ambon” section of the Laskar Jihad site

[14] As found at*/ accessed 4/3/08

[15] These features were all shown in my PowerPoint presentation but for the sake of brevity, I have only included one web page screen shot of the upper section, which does not show all the features listed


[17] As found at*/ accessed 4/3/08

[18] As found at*/ accessed 4/3/08

[19] As found at*/ accessed 4/3/08

[20] The information used from this source was written by Merlyna Lim in a chapter titled “Internet Social Networks and Reform” and can be found at

Kevin Banks

Geopolitical analyst with extensive background in languages and information technology.

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