November 13, 2004: Bus bombing in Indonesia

A bus carrying Indonesian Christians was bombed in November 2004 killing six: Jemaah Islamiyah was suspected behind the attack.

POSO, INDONESIA – When it comes to Islamist extremism, no country is immune.

The huge archipelago of Indonesia has had a very interesting history. Long ruled by a variety of outsiders, it became a Dutch colony in 1800, the so-called Dutch East Indies, and only gained its independence a century and a half later. The nation also suffered terribly under Japanese occupation in WWII.

The other interesting fact about Indonesia that not many people realise is that it is the world’s largest Muslim nation. Islam came on the coattails of trade and began to spread throughout the islands in the 13th century. Today, there are some 225 million Muslims there, almost a quarter of the world’s total.

We want to spread the word here, here, here, here and here

I always heard Indonesian Islam described as ‘syncretic’, i.e. a mixture of pre-Islamic traditions and elements from the newest addition to religion in the region. As a consequence, Islam in Indonesia has usually been seen as ‘moderate’.

That certainly changed. Beginning with Saudi Wahhabist influence in the 1980s Indonesia has become home to a number of terrorist groups, the best known of which is most probably Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an erstwhile Al Qaeda affiliate. That group has been responsible for some very high casualty attacks.

As well as some smaller ones.

On this day in 2004 a bus carrying Christians to the village of Silanjak in the country’s central Sulawesi region was bombed as it stopped in a market in Poso. Six people were killed and another three injured. According to witnesses, three individuals were involved in the attack: two suspects were arrested but released for lack of evidence.

They (NB the two detained men) are Poso residents and they have not been named as suspects. We will trace the link between the three to find if they are part of a militant group.

District police chief Abdi Darma

Indonesia has featured in previous Today in Terrorism posts and will feature in more I fear. This goes to show that terrorism can happen anywhere, even in areas where the faith is ‘syncretic’.

Phil Gurski

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