‘No direct link’ between Daesh leaders and Indonesian militants, says terror expert

Plain clothes policemen guard Aman Abdurrahman during his walk to the courtroom for his trial in Jakarta. He has long been associated with Daesh by the authorities in Indonesia. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 February 2018
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‘No direct link’ between Daesh leaders and Indonesian militants, says terror expert

JAKARTA: There are no direct links between Indonesian militants and the leadership of Daesh in Syria, an Indonesian terrorism expert said on Tuesday.
Taufik Andrie, executive director of the Institute for International Peace Building in Jakarta, was speaking during a meeting about changes in the global terrorism network and the impact those changes have had on extremism in Indonesia.
He said that attacks by self-proclaimed Daesh-affiliated militants in Indonesia “were not always related to Daesh, or even to Bahrun Naim or Aman Abdurrahman,” referencing an Indonesian militant believed to be fighting for Daesh in Syria and a convicted radical cleric who led a Daesh-affiliated network from his prison cell.
“There has never been a direct link between Daesh in Syria with those who claimed to be affiliated with the group here,” Andrie said. “Most of those so-called acknowledgements were self-proclaimed.
“If we follow the money trail, there has been little financial support coming in from Syria to Indonesia for terrorism activities,” he told Arab News.
However, Andrie said that remnants of the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) — outlawed in Indonesia since 2008 — still remain, with a clear organizational structure and key figures implementing their strategies.
Nasir Abbas, a former militant who is now known as a de-radicalization activist, said the group now operates anonymously, but still works toward the same goals using a mixture of preaching and violence.
“They are still on the move, but they don’t put a name on their organization. They use a strategy, unlike other militants who think that they are waging war by being lone wolves,” said Abbas, adding that other militant groups were now emulating JI by putting a solid structure in place.
“They would try to settle in a small region and strengthen their base, preaching to the locals about their intention to establish a caliphate and making the locals believe in their propaganda,” he explained.
Abbas said the conflict-torn southern Philippines remains the go-to destination for Southeast Asian militants returning to the region after joining Daesh in the Middle East. He claimed they pass through the porous sea and land borders from Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province to Malaysia’s Sabah state before entering the Philippines in Basilan.
“It’s the preferred trail because there is a chain of small islands in the Sulu Sea and there are a lot of separatist groups there, which means there is an abundant supply of guns and ammunition,” he said.
Nava Nuraniyah, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in Jakarta, said there has been little change in the role of women in extremist groups, particularly in Indonesian and Filipino organizations.
“Very few of them have become combatants. When they do, the reason is usually self-empowerment,” she told Arab News. “But most of them play the role of financier, treasurer and recruiter. They manage the money because they are housewives who are also entrepreneurs,” she explained.


India’s BJP trails in vote count of three state polls, in setback for Modi

In this photo taken on November 27, 2018 Indian polling officials prepare election materials and electronic voting machines at a distribution centre in Bhopal. (AFP)
Updated 10 min 12 sec ago
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India’s BJP trails in vote count of three state polls, in setback for Modi

  • The Times Now channel said the BJP was trailing in all three states, where it had grabbed almost all the parliamentary seats in its landslide win in the last general election in 2014

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was trailing on Tuesday in three big heartland states, two TV networks said, as counting began from local elections seen as a final trial of strength for Prime Minister Narendra Modi before general elections next year.
Analysts say a big loss for the BJP would signal rural dismay and help unite opposition to Modi, though his personal popularity remains high, despite criticism that he was unable to deliver on promises to create jobs for young people and improve conditions for farmers.
The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, the chief of the main opposition Congress party, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups to mount the most serious challenge to Modi yet in the election that must be held by May.
In the western state of Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 81 seats of the 199-member assembly against the BJP’s 56 in the initial round of voting, India Today TV said.
In the central state of Chhattisgarh, the Congress was ahead in 46 of the 90 seats at stake with the BJP at 22 and was holding to a slender lead in the most populous state at stake, Madhya Pradesh, the network said.
The Times Now channel also said the BJP was trailing in all three states, where it had grabbed almost all the parliamentary seats in its landslide win in the last general election in 2014.
Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters.
Local issues usually dominate state polls, but politicians are seeing the elections as a pointer to the national vote just months away.
The Indian rupee dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar, while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after the resignation of the central bank governor.
The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent with investors cautious ahead of the state election results.
Equity analysts had warned that Monday’s surprise resignation of Urjit Patel, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, after a long tiff with the government, could send the markets crashing.
“As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP’s drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real,” Nomura said in a research note.
“A rout of the BJP on its homeground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections.”
Regional parties are likely to retain two smaller states that also report results on Tuesday, southern Telangana and northeastern Mizoram, the polls show.
Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has sought to build a coalition of regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.
Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate.
“When one and one become eleven, even the mighty can be dethroned,” opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said of the prospect of growing opposition unity.