Saturday, September 19, 2009

Indonesia's Islamists On Their Uppers

Police in Indonesia say the country's most wanted Islamist terrorist leader, Noordin Mohamed Top, is dead. He was wanted for a series of attacks in recent years, in what is the world's most populated Muslim country. Noordin was killed during a police raid on Thursday.

First a bit of background. Noordin used to be a member of Jemaah Islamiah, a group of Muslim extremists which wants to create an Islamic state covering much of south-east Asia. The group is most notorious for carrying out the 2002 Bali bombing, and although Noordin's not thought to have been directly involved in that atrocity, he has been blamed for other attacks carried out by JI and by his own even more extreme splinter group.

So, his death is a major victory for Indonesia's security forces. In fact, it's the latest in a series of victories for them. Several leading JI figures have been arrested or killed. It's also been affected by splits, such as the breakaway initiated by Noordin. All of this has made the group far less of a threat than it was back in 2002. The lesson here is that putting sustained pressure on a terrorist organisation is still the best way for security services to get the upper hand. It can be an expensive business requiring patience and skill, but the Indonesians have proved that such efforts can bring rewards.

No comments: