JI and ISIS, Resurgent Threat

JI was thought to be lying dormant after the arrests and killings of many of its top leaders. One analyst even asserts that the group is now defunct.J.M. Berger, “The Islamic State vs. al Qaeda: Who’s winning the war to become the jihadi superpower?” Foreign Policy, September 2, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/09/02/the-islamic-state-vs-al-qaeda/. However, recent activity in the Philippines, combined with JI’s alignment with ISIS,Stephanie Balogh, “Jemaah Islamiah alignment to Islamic State a potential threat: Abbott,” Australian (Surry Hills), August 21, 2014, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/middle-east-in-turmoil/jemaah-islamiah-alignment-to-islamic-state-a-potential-threat-abbott/story-fn7ycml4-1227031712670. have renewed fears of the resurgent threat JI poses in Australia and the surrounding region. Australian PM Abbot concurs on this assessment, stating, “Jemaah Islamiyah have pledged their allegiance to the ISIL movement and that does indicate the potential for increased terror activity in our region.”Sarah Dean, David Martosko et al, “‘Truly sickening and utterly evil’: Tony Abbott warns of Aussie beheadings as it’s revealed Indonesian terrorists Jemaah Islamiyah has sided with ISIS killers who beheaded James Foley,” Daily Mail (London), August 20, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2730480/PM-Tony-Abbott-warns-Australians-new-threats-Indonesian-terror-group-Jemaah-Islamiyah-calls-James-Foleys-beheading-truly-sickening.html. In July 2014, JI leader Abu Bakr Bashir pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from an Indonesian prison.Perdani, Yuliasri and Ina Parlina. “Govt to tighten prison security following Ba’asyir’s ‘baiat’,” Jakarta Post, August 5, 2014, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/08/05/govt-tighten-prison-security-following-ba-asyir-s-baiat.html.

In May of 2014, a spate of terror arrests in Java was thought to signal the return of JI to the country, possibly ushering in a new stage in JI’s history.Farouk Arnaz, “Arrests Reveal Jemaah Islamiyah’s Return, Police Source Says,” Jakarta Globe, May 21, 2014, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/arrests-reveal-jemaah-islamiyahs-return/. According to a source within the National Police anti-terror squad, “The new JI cell is very neat and organized; they have a management, soldiers and an Amir. We estimate to have at least 3,000 soldiers and we think the Amir is a returning old player.”Farouk Arnaz, “Arrests Reveal Jemaah Islamiyah’s Return, Police Source Says,” Jakarta Globe, May 21, 2014, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/arrests-reveal-jemaah-islamiyahs-return/. During the May arrests, it was revealed that the group had a makeshift arms industry. The particular cell is known for its weapons assembly skills.Farouk Arnaz, “Arrests Reveal Jemaah Islamiyah’s Return, Police Source Says,” Jakarta Globe, May 21, 2014, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/arrests-reveal-jemaah-islamiyahs-return/. In addition to this the growth of support for ISIS, some analysts believe that the Indonesian jihadis see ISIS as an ‘embryo of an Islamic caliphate.’“Indonesians joining rebels in Syria, Iraq,” Manila Times, June 20, 2012, http://www.manilatimes.net/indonesians-joining-rebels-in-syria-iraq/105529/. The dangers of JI in the region have recently therefore greatly expanded.