Indonesia Flies al Qaeda-Linked Groups into Aceh

StoryJanuary 10, 2005
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As Jakarta seeks U.S. military aid on the grounds of fighting terrorism, the Indonesian military is now bringing al Qaeda-linked groups into Aceh, ostensibly to help with tsunami relief. [includes rush transcript]

This is occurring even as Acehnese NGOs and activists are being harassed by the military when they attempt to help the tsunami victims. Some charge Indonesia is bringing in these groups to galvanize international support for the brutal Indonesian military.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, we only have three minutes left, and I do want to turn now to Aceh, and the latest situation there. The Indonesian military is working together with the U.S. military, saying that they are helping to distribute aid. Colin Powell is saying that they’re working ever closer, providing support now for the Indonesian military. The U.S. has been prevented for doing that for a number of years now, because of the brutality of the Indonesian military. Can you talk about the latest in Aceh?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Colin Powell announced that the U.S. would be supplying spare parts for C-130 transport planes ostensibly to help with the relief effort, the Indonesian military transport planes. Within days of Powell making this announcement, it came out that the Indonesian military, which had previously used these planes to transport the goods looted from East Timor, as they were destroying East Timor in 1999 to take thousands of Timorese civilian prisoners out after the 1999 campaign of slaughter in Timor, which previously have been used to drop paratroops over Aceh, were now used just in the past week to bring members of two Bin Laden affiliated Indonesian groups, the FPI and the MMI, the Islamic Defenders Front and the Islamic Mujahadin Council, they flew them up to Aceh, ostensibly to help in the relief effort. These groups were created or — well the FPI was in part created by the Indonesian armed forces, and the MMI has received backing from Indonesian military intelligence at various points. The MMI includes Laskar Jihad a group the went into Malukus and helped spark sectarian fighting between Muslim and Christian peasants, Muslim and Christian militias, in which thousands were killed. This was done to create chaos, which the Indonesian military could then take advantage of. And these groups are openly connected to Bin Laden and espouse that ideology.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re saying that the Indonesian military has brought them into Aceh now, actually flown them in?

ALLAN NAIRN: Yes, they brought them into Aceh. Some of them are walking around with Bin Laden T-shirts. They go up to foreign reporters and present themselves as Acehnese even though they are not, and James Kelly of the U.S. State Department just said, there’s worry that such militants might attack U.S. troops. Well simultaneously Powell was announcing the U.S. is going to aid the Indonesian military, one of the rationales being the Indonesian military is needed to fight such Bin Laden-style military.

AMY GOODMAN: The Indonesian military brought them as in as a way to galvanize support for the Indonesian military?

ALLAN NAIRN: Apparently so. They have used similar tactics before. It’s also seems to be a way of terrorizing the Acehnese population.

AMY GOODMAN: We only have 20 seconds. Are they going to try to say they are the rebels that are in Aceh.

ALLAN NAIRN: Possibly. Previously they tried to bring a Laskar Jihad who helped do the killing in the Malukus into Aceh. They Acehnese pro-independence rebels threatened to kill them all and those groups fled, but the Indonesian military, they’ll try anything, and the American Pentagon, Admiral Fargo was an Capitol Hill last week lobbying for a restoration of military training for Indonesia. If people want to help grassroots groups on the ground they can go to the website and back groups like the People’s Crisis Center, which are doing civilian relief for the people who have been devastated by the tsunami.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Allan Nairn, investigative reporter and activist, just recently back from Indonesia, and Aceh, also the author of the piece in The Progressive magazine, 20 years ago, “Behind the Death Squads,” an exclusive report on the U.S. role in the Salvadoran official terror.

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