Editorial ub tg ///statesman, 21 January, 2016
(Note: Jakarta strike assumes importance since it is the fist in Asia, that too in the largest Muslim nation known for its tolerance toward all religions. It only proves that the combined might of military forces led by US, Europe and Russia has not blunted the teeth of ISIS. It is only helping them to spread out and launch multipronged attacks on innocent civilians. Let dialogue, diplomacy and efforts to meet the just demands of terrorists be tried by military powers for a change. james kottoor,editor)
Terror struck Indonesia last week. The ISIS outrage in Jakarta has shocked the Islamic bloc chiefly because this is believed to be the first time that Caliphate-inspired violence has roiled the world’s most-populous Muslim country. Indonesia has lost its citizens to terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam. A suicide bomber killed at least two people and spread fear throughout the population. The loop of such tragedies has lengthened and this time to the shock and awe of South-east Asia. And this must be more critical in the context of reports that those who imagine themselves to be “holy warriors” were actually trying to mimic the Paris massacres last November. The alleged ringleader of last Thursday’s attacks – an Indonesian based in Syria – had called on followers to study the tactics which left 130 people dead in the French capital. Sad to reflect, the almost relentless massacres from the West to Asia via Iraq and Syria have now overshadowed the number of casualties. More accurately, it is the phenomenon that has unnerved the world. Seven persons, including five assailants, were killed by gunmen and suicide bombers in a coordinated assault in the Indonesian capital. While this might be a tiny fraction of the deaths in Paris, the nub of the matter must be that the war within a religion becomes increasingly hideous. No less alarming must be the fact that no fewer than 700 Indonesians are reported to have travelled to Syria and Iraq in recent years to join the group. The attack on a Starbucks cafe in an area that houses international organisations, embassies and luxury hotels would suggest that, as happened on the Tunisian beach, the ISIS might have targeted foreigners. A Canadian citizen and an Indonesian police officer were killed and up to 20 people, foreigners in the main, injured. The intrepid nature of the assault was mercifully unmatched by the death toll – of the seven who died, five were attackers themselves. Arguably, the attackers were relatively untrained and used what security experts called “rudimentary weapons”. As the global problem festers, it is the underlying mindset, a unity of purpose or calculated malevolence, that binds the killers. The level of training or the number of casualties, as in Jakarta, is of lesser moment in the awesome construct.
The outrage, indeed the re-emergence of radical Islam in Indonesia, poses a challenge to the country’s President, Joko Widodo, most particularly his efforts to buttress economic growth and project the country with a stable parliamentary system in the ASEAN region, and embedded in moderate Islam. The outlook is forbidding if, as reports suggest, there are hundreds of youth waiting to go to Iraq and Syria… to be shown the ropes by the militants.