(New York, N.Y.) — Indonesia’s government announced last week that Umar Patek—a former leading member of the Southeast Asia jihadist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the bombmaker in the 2002 Bali attacks—may be granted an early release from prison. Patek, who has already served half of his 20-year prison sentence, built the bombs used in the attacks that killed 202 people. Nearly half of the victims were Australian nationals.
Indonesian authorities claim Patek has successfully been reformed and that his case can be used as an example of the potential of deradicalization programs. However, Patek remains a U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), and JI remains a potent threat.
Although JI has slowed its activities targeting Westerners in Indonesia, attacks are increasing against religious and ethnic minorities—a reflection of ISIS’s influence on the terrorist group. ISIS is known for targeting vulnerable demographics in their violent campaigns, and JI’s co-founder and former leader Abu Bakar Bashir pledged loyalty to the terror organization in July 2014. While some reports claim that JI does not support ISIS and remains tied to al-Qaeda, regional authorities, including Australian intelligence officials, are concerned that JI is loyal to ISIS and could increase terrorist activities in the region.
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Jemaah Islamiyah, please click here.
“The Indonesian government initially achieved some success dismantling Jemaah Islamiyah and deradicalizing its members and other terrorist prisoners. However, the influence of ISIS coupled with the release of JI leaders from prison has proved to be the undoing of much of the progress that was made” said former coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh), al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team and CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler. “JI has undoubtably been reinvigorated in Indonesia over the past few years, and the country’s government should take this into consideration in their decision to release a member that has successfully caused so much destruction and discord.”
To read CEP’s resource Indonesia: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.