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Indonesian Militants Still Fighting with Taleban - 2001-11-16

An official with an Islamic militant group said some Indonesian volunteers are continuing to fight with the Taleban forces in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Islamic Youth Movement said 150 Indonesian fighters are with Taleban forces, and are preparing to fight a guerrilla war. Syaib Didu said the fighters have been moving from one place to another since Tuesday, when the Northern Alliance entered Afghanistan's capital city Kabul.

Mr. Didu said 50 other fighters fled to neighboring Pakistan and are safe, while 100 more are near the border. He said the group of 100 is expected to rejoin the Taleban to fight.

He said the volunteers have suffered no fatalities in the month they have been in Afghanistan.

Mr. Didu said he is in touch with Indonesian fighters by telephone. But none of his assertions could be independently verified. However, news reports from Afghanistan say that Northern Alliance troops and journalists in Kabul have found documents indicating the Taleban troops include many volunteers from other countries.

The overwhelming majority of Indonesia's Muslims are moderates. But the Islamic Youth Organization is one of a handful of minority militant groups.

Some of the radical organizations have threatened to retaliate against the United States both in Indonesia and abroad because they believe the U.S. attacks in Afghanistan are attacks against Islam.

Washington says the air-strikes are only aimed at Taleban forces.

Even Indonesia's mainstream Islamic organizations and the government have criticized the U.S.-led military action. Many groups are calling for the bombing to stop during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.