Published on The Jakarta Post (http://www.thejakartapost.com)
Abu Jibril, an inured, overlooked hardliner
Rendi A. Witular , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 03/13/2010 10:19
AM | National
"Beware of terrorists among us" reads a welcome banner upon entering the
Witana Harja housing complex in Pamulang, South Tangerang, Banten.
It was installed by law enforcers more than six months ago following the
arrest of Muhammad Jibril, the son of firebrand cleric Muhammad Iqbal
Abdurrahman, widely known as Abu Jibril.
Muhammad was arrested for allegedly helping finance attacks on the JW
Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in July last year.
Since his arrest, and because of his background, it is hard for law
enforcers or the complex's residents to overlook his father when any
terrorist incidents occur.
The US State Department said in 2003 that Abu Jibril was Jamaah Islamiyah's
(JI) primary recruiter and second-in-command after firebrand cleric Abubakar
The recent raids have again dragged Jibril into the spotlight as it was his
follower, Fauzi, now a police fugitive, who allegedly harbored Dulmatin, the
notorious JI field leader killed by police less than one kilometer from
Jibril's house on Tuesday.
Jibril confirmed Tuesday that Fauzi was his follower, but insisted he did
not know Dulmatin. He has been living in the complex since November 2005,
thanks to Ba'asyir henchman Sutisna, who, according to neighborhood cleric
Abdurrahman Assegaf, set him up with accommodation.
Jibril, born in 1957, was a student of the Al-Mukmin boarding school in
Ngruki, Central Java, founded by Ba'asyir and Abdullah Sungkar.
He now runs the arrahmah.com, a radical jihad movement news portal, and
leads an exclusive prayer group of middle- and upper-income Pamulang
The group was formed in 2006 when Jibril took over the Al-Munawwarah mosque
from local residents. Ba'asyir regularly preaches at Jibril's prayer
meetings, advocating a jihadist movement.
"Before [Jibril] came here, the people had a very strong bond. We used to
hold social and religious activities together," said Rangga Baihaqi, 25, who
lives in the same block as Jibril. "But now there's a polarization between
followers of Jibril's congregation and those who aren't. In some of his
sermons I heard Jibril call non-followers infidels."
He said participants of Al-Munawarah's congregations were mostly outsiders,
with local residents accounting for no more than 10 percent.
Jibril's radical and extreme preachings were also confirmed by, another
neighbor, Wawan, 56.
"After the arrest of his son, though, Jibril seems to have toned down his
Jibril has a long record of participating in radicalism.
In early 1980s, Jibril spent three years in prison for his radicalism. He
fled to Malaysia in 1985 following then president Soeharto's crackdown on
Islamic militants. According to police, he was recruited in Malaysia to
fight in Afghanistan, eventually becoming a trainer there.
Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Jibril spent most of the
1990s in Malaysia helping Ba'asyir and Sungkar found JI. He was a treasurer
along with Hambali, a key JI financier currently held in the US.
Jibril returned to Indonesia after Soeharto's downfall in 1998. He played a
role in supporting sectarian conflicts in Poso, Central Sulawesi until he
was arrested by the Malaysian government, which held him from 2001 and 2004
under the country's Internal Security Act for promoting radicalism.
But it was a small explosion in front of Jibril's house in another part of
Pamulang in mid-2005 that recalled much of Jibril's past. .
The police claimed the device was similar to those used in sectarian
conflicts in Poso between 1998 and 2000. They raided his house but laid no
It was later revealed the police were hesitant to file the charges after
pressure from politicians from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the
National Mandate Party (PAN). PAN lawmaker Patrialis Akbar, now the justice
and human rights minister, was among the lawmakers who stormed National
Police headquarters demanding they drop all charges against Jibril. (rdf)
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