By Eric A. Billings. Mr. Billings is pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Policy at American University, and is a former research intern with the Center for Security Policy.
In October of 2005, several blasts rocked the resort island of Bali in Indonesia, the work of Islamofascist militants who desire nothing less than the establishment of an Islamic state and the enforcement of Sharia. Their extreme means were matched only by the propensity of their views to be unyielding and intolerant of the beliefs and lives of others.
Despite the wanton and draconian nature of the attacks, however, the Indonesian government has since continued to largely ignore the growing influence of Islamism within the country’s borders. In fact, it might be recalled that only after much international prodding did the government even acknowledge in late 2001 the existence of terrorist training camps in Indonesia, only to have their Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda deny there was evidence that local Muslim organizations had ties to international terrorist networks.
Even more frightening than the suggestion of ignorance, it appears elements within the Indonesian government actually sympathize with the Islamist cause. After Abu Bakar Bashir – the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah – was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his connection to the Bali bombings, then-Vice President Hamzah Haz visited Bashir and Jaffar Umar Thalib – the head of the terrorist organization Laskar Jihad – in prison.