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Jakarta's Jihad 101 By: Maria Ressa
CNN.com | Friday, September 05, 2003


In the al Mukmin Islamic school in the Javanese city of Solo a slogan above one classroom reads, "Death in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration."

In a boarding school where the alumni includes nearly all of Indonesia's top terror suspects, pictures of AK47's are plastered on the hallways.

The suicide bomber from last month's Marriott Hotel blast in Jakarta studied here, as did many of the men now on trial for the Bali bombing last year.

While authorities have shut down many Islamic schools throughout Indonesia, the primary feeder school co-founded by Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir still teaches an intolerant and radical form of Islam that often advocates violence.

Ba'asyir was sentenced to four years in prison this week for taking part in subversion and forgery, but authorities say they have no proof he was leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), al Qaeda's arm in Southeast Asia.

Documents seized by Indonesian police in recent months suggest JI is targeting some 140 religious boarding schools, or pesantrens, in the country in a bid to spread its brand of militant teachings.

The school's principal maintains Ba'asyir is innocent and the verdict against him was sparked by pressure from nations like the United States.

This is a view shared by former students like Lutfie.

"Would you accept it if your father was being accused of murder?" asks Lutfie. "Those charges are lies."

On the edges of the pages of his Koran, there is one word -- jihad. Students at the school are taught that Islam is under siege and that they must defend it.

But school officials have denied any links with terrorism.

"There is one community. Then there are some members of that community who have done something wrong. Is that community also at fault?" asks Ustadz Farid Ma'ruf, director of al Mukmin school.

Indonesian officials say they have no evidence students are being recruited for terrorist acts, but they have planted agents among the students.

In neighboring Malaysia, authorities have shut down similar schools, calling them "pipelines to terrorism."

Ba'asyir has said "I make many knives and I sell many knives, but I'm not responsible for what happens to them."

For now, the school he founded continues to spread his radical ideas.




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