News / Asia

Indonesian Jihadists in Syria Highlight Conflict's Global Draw

Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen at Hujaira town, south of Damascus, after the soldiers took control of it from the rebel fighters, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, Nov. 13, 2013.
Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen at Hujaira town, south of Damascus, after the soldiers took control of it from the rebel fighters, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, Nov. 13, 2013.
Kate Lamb
As the war in Syria enters its third year, the conflict continues to attract Islamic fighters from the Arab world, and from countries as far flung as Kazakhstan, Australia and Indonesia. The trend has become a major concern for Western governments.
 
Of the hundreds of rebel units currently operating in Syria, some pledge allegiance to al-Qaida while others want to see Syria become an Islamic caliphate.
 
According to a recent estimate by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, some 11,000 people from 74 countries have traveled to Syria to join the opposition fighters.
 
The figure has doubled since last April, with a particularly sharp increase in non-Arab and Western fighters.
 
According to terrorism analyst Noor Huda, while most foreign fighters are from the Middle East and Europe, Indonesian fighters are also getting involved for ideological reasons.
 
"They look at Sham [region of Syria] as the holy of holiest place for jihad where now they see the battle between good and evil, the battle between the Sunni and the Shia, and mostly Indonesian jihadists are Sunni, and then it is time for them to actually defend their Sunni brothers, it is timely for them,” Huda explained.
 
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the ruling minority are Alawites, a Shia Islamic sect.
 
Huda noted that Indonesians studying in the Middle East have also traveled to Syria, and two have died in crossfire over recent months. They have since been held up as martyrs on radical websites.
 
Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency is currently tracking 50 Indonesians in Syria suspected of terrorist activities.
 
Inspired by the idea of global jihad, the involvement of Indonesian hardliners in Syria also has local repercussions.
 
“If we look back at our experience with Indonesian fighters in Afghanistan you can see that the returned jihadists from Afghanistan have a certain standing here in Indonesia,” Huda said.

As Indonesia’s militants take a greater interest in conflicts abroad, Sidney Jones, from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), says they are becoming more anti-Shia at home.
 
“What is new in Indonesia is this virulent anti-Shia rhetoric, which seems like in part it is coming in part from Saudi-funded organizations," Jones said, "but the Syrian conflict is exacerbating that because Assad can be used as a example of why you have to aware of Shia, and see them as the enemy because they are killing Sunni Muslims.

Indonesia is the world largest Muslim-majority nation. Most here subscribe to Sunni Islam and hold moderate religious views.
 
Over the past two and half years, minority Shia Muslims have come under increasing attack, as well as forced relocations and in some cases, government-sanctioned forced conversion.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MikeBarnett from: USA
January 14, 2014 7:19 PM
Osama bin Laden and all of al Qaeda have been Sunni muslims who have followed the Wahabi version of Sunni Islam from Saudi Arabia. It has an extremely strict and narrow vision of Islam. It is no surprise that Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf states support the overthrow of President Assad, resistance to Prime Minister Maliki, and war against Iran as long as others do the fighting in each case.

Indonesians linked to al Qaeda blew up the Bali nightclub in 2002 and fought the government for several more years. Now, they have sent fighters to Syria for combat training before returning home. The US maintains 800 Special Forces soldiers to help fight islamic insurgents on Basilon Island in the southern Philippines north of Indonesia. They helped the government in a September, 2013, battle at Zamboanga against the muslim Moro National Liberation Front. Consequently, the actions in Syria are not new; they represent the type of international training that al Qaeda can conduct for islamic insurgents from many nations including the US with its Somali refugees, most of whom are Sunnis. This is a global unconventional war.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs