"Constructing" the Jemmaah Islamiyah terrorist : a preliminary inquiry
Date of Issue2004
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Coming on the heels of the October 2002 Bali and August 2003 Jakarta Marriott bombings, the recent Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta demonstrates very clearly that the terror network, despite its numbers having been decimated by counter-terror action by regional governments, retains the capacity to mount significant terrorist atrocities. What is extremely significant is that while the embassy attack bore the imprint of senior JI bomb-maker Azahari Husin, he evidently had the assistance and support of new recruits. This suggests that the JI organization is regenerating itself. Ultimately, counter-terrorism success depends on the ability of regional governments to prevent terrorist organizations from regenerating. This paper seeks to unearth the dynamics driving the JI regeneration process. It attempts to interrogate the complex processes by which ordinary young Muslim men are transformed into indoctrinated JI militants. It shows that the intersection of four broad factors are especially important in the creation of new cohorts of indoctrinated JI: the radical Islamist ideology of Qaedaism; the historical, political and socio-cultural backdrop of Southeast Asia and especially Indonesia: the individual make-up of JI terrorists; and the "ingroup space" within which individual terrorists aer enmeshed. In doing so this paper sheds much-needed light on the burning question of why Western-educated, seemingly modern individual like Azahari Husin can be transformed into extreme fundamentalist fanatics capable of committing mass murder in the name of religion.
RSIS Working Papers ; 071/04
Nanyang Technological University