Indonesian Extremists Hail Bin Laden as ‘Martyr’
Farouk Arnaz & AFP
In a reaction that hardly came as a surprise, radical Indonesian Islamists on Monday hailed slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a “martyr” who championed Islam against America.
“If it’s true that Osama bin Laden is dead, then he died a martyr. He fought for Islam and he fought for the lands colonized by America,” Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid spokesman Son Hadi told Agence France-Presse.
“Al Qaeda didn’t die with him. Jihad will not be dampened just because he’s dead, because jihad is a command of the religion, not of individuals,” he added.
JAT was founded in 2008 by 72-year-old cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who is on trial for leading and financing a militant group that was discovered training recruits in Aceh last year.
The hard-line cleric said that Bin Laden was a great cleric and mujahedeen, and that his killing would lead to retaliation.
“Obama said that America was not hostile to Islam, but this a big lie,” Bashir said, as quoted by his personal aide, Hasyim Abdullah.
Bashir, together with Abdullah Sungkar, who helped create regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, reportedly met Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1980.
Syawal Yasin, the son-in-law of Abdullah Sungkar and leader of the Greater Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council (MMI), an organization also founded and once led by Bashir, described Bin Laden as a man who genuinely cared for the fate of Islam and Muslims worldwide.
“Osama was a calm, sympathetic man. He was a multimillionaire who gave all of his wealth for mujahedeen camps,” said Syawal, who in 1986 was one of the first Indonesians sent to a mujahedeen training camp on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where he met Bin Laden.
“God willing, he was a syahid [martyr]. He died in a way he wanted to die — which is every mujahedeen’s dream,” he said.
Citing the Koran, Syawal said: “Whoever dies a syahid, he is never really dead in the eyes of God. They will live on, beside God. New Osamas will be born.”
He said Bin Laden’s death would not have a major impact on the waging of jihad in Indonesia.
“Americans may be partying, celebrating his death. But they will cry later, and be blanketed with pain,” Syawal told the Jakarta Globe. “The waging of jihad is as stipulated in the holy Koran and the Sunnah [the traditions of Prophet Muhammad]. It will not be impacted because of a [human] figure. But I admit, the death of such an important figure will have somewhat of a temporary impact.”