JAKARTA: Unlike his contemporaries, cleric and convicted terrorist Aman Abdurrahman has never seen war. He never fights alongside his fellow militants in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria or in any domestic sectarian conflict.
But Aman’s preaching is so contagious that Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the elder statesman of the regional terrorism network, has succumbed to his doctrine and authority.
Aman’s notoriety was extended with the alleged involvement of his followers in an attack targeting police and foreigners in a Central Jakarta district packed with shopping centres, embassies, the UN headquarters and government offices on Jan 14. The attack killed four civilians and four perpetrators.
Bahrun Naim, who is suspected by the police to have orchestrated the attack and has been in Raqqa, Syria, with the Islamic State (IS) movement since early 2015, was a member of Aman’s prayer community before leaving Indonesia.
Afif, also known as Sunakim, identified on the day of the attack wearing a DJ Tiesto shirt, shared Aman’s ideology as he joined Aman’s terrorist training camp in Aceh in 2010, as well as his prayer community.
“The perpetrators shared a similar doctrine that has been widely preached by Aman,” National Police spokesman Insp Gen Anton Charliyan said recently.
While the police have not uncovered any evidence to suggest that Aman orchestrated the attack, many in the intelligence community have pointed to Aman’s proliferating doctrine and his ability to win over many influential figures in the terror network as invigorating for the terrorism movement.
It was not until the establishment of IS in 2013 that Aman and his takfiri doctrine (an offshoot of fundamentalist Salafism that accuses other Muslims of apostasy, and therefore liable to be killed) gained ground in the domestic violent jihad community long dominated by al-Qaeda’s Salafism doctrine.
Takfiri is the prime doctrine of IS, a terrorist organisation that has occupied territory in Syria and Iraq in its quest to repeat the glory of the Islamic caliphates.
Introduced by Abu Musab alZarqawi in 2001, takfiri is represented by his group Tawhid walJihad, and was quickly adopted by Aman for distribution in Indonesia through Aman’s version of Tawhid wal-Jihad.
Unlike Ba’asyir’s al-Qaeda splinter, Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), which focused its attacks primarily on Western interests, Aman and his followers have declared war on anyone, including fellow Muslims, who refuse to follow their doctrine.
However, Aman’s track record during Ba’asyir’s heyday between 2000 and 2011 was not as impressive as his JI fellows.
Aman was sentenced in 2004 to seven years in prison for a failed terror plot. The bomb, prepared by his group, was prematurely detonated in the terrorists’ hiding spot in Cimanggis, Depok, West Java.
During his time in prison, Aman met with Ba’asyir, who spent time in prison for terrorism between 2005 and 2006. In 2008, Aman was released after receiving remissions for good behaviour.
Soon after his release, Aman collaborated with Ba’asyir to form a joint terrorism training camp in Aceh in 2010 that united the different factions of terrorism groups.
Due to the Aceh camp incident, Aman and Ba’asyir received nine and 15 years in prison, respectively, and are now detained in a supposedly maximum-security prison on Nusakambangan, an island off the shores of Cilacap, Central Java.
But while Aman is kept behind bars, the police have accused his followers of involvement in several terror plots, including a suicide bombing at a mosque inside a police headquarters in Cirebon, West Java, that only claimed the life of the perpetrator in 2011.
“Aman is IS’ master ideologue in Indonesia. He has long preached the takfiri doctrine, and IS has served his cause,” former National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chairman Ansyaad Mbai said recently.
After the merger of many terrorist factions into Tawhid wal-Jihad, Aman renamed his organisation Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) to propagate IS ideology and recruitment in Indonesia.
Through his group, Aman manages his followers, conducts recruitment for IS and spreads IS propaganda behind bars.
According to the National Police, Aman’s JAD has produced four prominent figures: Santoso, a former JI member who leads the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) in an insurgency movement in Poso, Central Sulawesi; Bachrumsyah, commander of the West Indonesia Mujahidin (MIB), who has joined IS in Syria but still has pools of followers in Greater Jakarta; Bahrun Naim, the recent attack orchestrator; and Salim Mubarak At Tamimi, known also as Abu Jandal, who has also joined IS in Syria.
The police suspect Bachrumsyah, Bahrun and Abu Jandal of collaborating from Syria to direct more attacks in Indonesia through their followers. — Jakarta Post/Asia News Network