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Central Sulawesi is a mountainous province sandwiched between the wealthier south and north of the irregularly shaped island. Poso is one of the province's eight districts, several of which were established in 2002. The capital of Poso district, the town of Poso is situated on the gulf, a six-hour drive southeast from the much larger provincial capital of Palu. Poso district has a primarily Muslim population in the cities and coastal villages, and an indigenous Protestant majority in the uplands. Dutch missionary activity began at the turn of the twentieth century, and members of the Central Sulawesi Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Sulawesi Tengah, GKST) make up the majority of the interior of the district.

In addition to indigenous Muslims, there are many migrants from South Sulawesi, known as Bugis or Buginese, and from the Gorontalo region to the north. There is also a long tradition of Arab traders settling in the region, and their descendents play an important role in Muslim religious and educational institutions. The district also includes villages built under the government transmigration program, which brought in residents from densely populated areas, such as the primarily Muslim islands of Java and Lombok, and the Hindu island of Bali. The Muslim community is thus made up of indigenous people, official transmigrants, and economic migrants of numerous ethnicities. Many migrants have lived in the district for decades. Muslims attained a majority in Poso district by the late 1990s, and now top 60 percent, according to government figures.

Ethno-linguistic groups that include the Pamona, Mori, Napu, Besoa, and Bada populate the upland interior of the district. Many of these groups were once chiefdoms and had a history of intermittent warfare. The town of Tentena is the economic and spiritual center for Poso Protestants, home to the Central Sulawesi Christian Church headquarters, or Synode. It is located on Lake Poso in North Pamona subdistrict, one of several subdistricts with an ethnic Pamona majority. Although the conflict originally centered on tensions between Muslim Bugis migrants and ethnic Pamona Protestants, many other groups were pulled in through their ethnic, cultural, or economic ties.

By the 1990s key sectors of the economy were dominated by migrants. Ethnic Chinese and Bugis traders dominated the lucrative cacao, clove, and copra trades. They also owned small shops, as did Arab migrants and migrants from Gorontalo. More Muslims arrived after the financial crisis began in 1997. Some migrants cut down forest areas to raise cacao, which had become a valuable export crop due to the devaluation of the rupiah. While Protestants retained many civil service positions in local government agencies, they increasingly felt this avenue was closing, particularly in the case of "strategic positions" in top government jobs. These positions, such as bupati (district head) and sekwilda (district secretary), were sources of wealth and prestige through the distribution of government funds and contracts.3

In the decade before President Soeharto's resignation in 1998, the military put down sporadic conflicts in Palu, Poso, and transmigration sites.4 Most of these conflicts were between Muslims and Christians, but some were between local and migrant Muslims. A clash between youths in 1995 led to an attack on a mosque in Tegalrejo and the destruction of Protestant houses in Madale.5 Residents also reported efforts at provocation well before the recent violence, such as the circulation of letters incriminating Muslims in Christian neighborhoods and vice versa. Reports of church burnings on other islands quickly spread among the Christian community as well. Describing conditions prior to December 1998, one Palu resident said, "There was no smoke yet, but there were embers."6

Conflict in post-Soeharto Indonesia

The period surrounding Soeharto's 1998 resignation was chaotic. Throughout the country there were rumors of provocation by entrenched interests hoping to derail corruption trials, investigations, and other elements of a democratic transition. Many violent incidents occurred just weeks before the outbreak in Poso, including clashes between students and a militia tied to the army in Semanggi, Jakarta, on November 13, communal violence in Ketapang, Jakarta, on November 22, and violence in Kupang, West Timor, on November 30. Although the Poso crisis lasted through four years and three presidents, that fact that it began during this period of violence and political intrigue is significant.

Causes of the conflict

Many officials sought to dismiss the crisis in Poso as the work of unknown provocateurs. While there is evidence of incitement, it is the underlying religious, political, and economic tensions that best explain the violence. They are considered here separately, but the causes mutually reinforce one another. Because these conditions are not unique to Poso, it is critical that the Indonesian government responds impartially and effectively to prevent isolated incidents from feeding on underlying conditions to create protracted conflict.

Religious roots of the conflict

In Indonesia, religion and politics are often intertwined. President Soeharto frequently tried to co-opt Islam to maintain power, radical Islam became a form of opposition, and numerous religion-based parties have appeared in recent years. However, in Poso there were those on both sides who were eager to frame the conflict as entirely religious, sometimes using scriptural language.7

In Palu, prominent Muslim legal advocate Tajwin Ibrahim explained the roots of the problem as a long campaign of "Christianization." Ibrahim argued that after seeing the percentage of Christians decrease in the district, the strategy shifted from missionary activity to economic inducements, and then to violence to chase away Muslims. Other Muslims have argued that reports of forced conversion, destruction of houses of worship, and attacks on local Muslims as well as migrants demonstrated the religious nature to the conflict.8 Christians, especially solidarity groups abroad, depicted the conflict as an Islamic "holy war" against the Protestants.

It is also important to note that Poso residents told Human Rights Watch that it was primarily people from other villages who were involved in the violence. One Christian displaced person from the village of Matako explained that "the Muslims in the village are all good people. We didn't have a problem with them. It was always people from outside the village, riding by, screaming, shooting guns. We were terrorized, so we finally fled in July 2001." A Muslim man from a village near the scene of a May 2000 massacre at Kilo Nine said he sought refuge at the army post after Christian neighbors warned him of the coming attack.9

Clearly the religious nature of the conflict cannot be ignored. But many of these same proponents of a religious explanation also stressed the role of land, cash crops, and government positions. Religious figures on both sides pointed to political and economic causes. To describe the Poso crisis as a purely religious conflict is dangerously misleading.

Political roots of the conflict

A more common opinion is that while religion can no longer be separated from the conflict, it was secondary to political goals. Though not an iron-clad rule, there had been a consensus among local politicians on power sharing of the "strategic positions" in district government, such as the district head (bupati) and the district secretary (sekretaris wilayah daerah or sekwilda). A Muslim bupati was expected to have a Protestant sekwilda, and vice versa. This had been the case in many prior administrations, but the informal arrangement started to fray. Muslims originally from the Bungku area of Morowali, which split off from Poso district in 1999, came to dominate the field, holding the spot of bupati, assistant bupati, district assembly chair, and mayor of Poso.

A report compiled by Muslim academics includes data on the religious affiliation of officeholders between 1989 and 1999. While comparison over time is difficult due to the creation of new posts and incomplete data, the available information indicates a shift from a slight Christian majority to a Muslim one in the top fifty or so positions in the office of the bupati, the heads of offices (kantor), agencies (dinas), divisions (bagian), and subdistricts (kecamatan). During the 1990s Christians went from holding 54 percent of these key posts to 39 percent, while Muslim numbers rose accordingly.10

The chronology suggests a connection between the question of power sharing and outbreaks of violence. The first phase of the violence broke out just after the December 13, 1998, announcement that the bupati of Poso District would not seek re-election. The selection of the district secretary in April 2000, and threats made when one candidate was not chosen, coincided with the outbreak of the second phase. Finally, the outbreak of the fourth phase in July 2001 coincided with the selection of a new district secretary.

The political explanation has wide public support. The report by Muslim academics found that 67 percent of those surveyed attributed the conflict to politics, primarily competition for positions. Only 6 percent described the cause as religious.11 Asked for the cause of the conflict, a Muslim religious leader in Palu who allegedly recruited fighters early in the conflict, replied: "Politics. Then religion was dragged in, brought in inadvertently. Politicians from both sides tried to gain support through religion."12

Poso district is not unique in the province. An NGO in the provincial capitol of Palu called the Institute for the Development of Legal Studies and Human Rights Advocacy (Lembaga Pengembangan Studi Hukum dan Advokasi Hak Asazi Manusia, LPS-HAM) has tracked spikes in violence coinciding with the selection of a new bupati or mayor in the districts of Banggai, Banggai Islands, Morowali, Buol, Toli-toli, Donggala, and the municipality of Palu. The NGO linked 17 percent of mob violence in the province to elite politics.13

After the question of power sharing reemerged with the selection of a district secretary in July 2001, many Muslims pointed to previous district administrations in which both top spots were occupied by Christians, or occasionally Muslims, with no conflict. But the relative lack of conflict during previous administrations took place under very different conditions. The top-down, centralized bureaucracy was largely imposed from outside, and many of the top bureaucrats were retired military officers from Sumatra or South Sulawesi. Decentralization and the economic crisis had also raised the stakes of the patronage system in recent years as districts and provinces retained a higher portion of revenues.

Furthermore, some Muslims agreed there was a power sharing problem, and even proposed the unpopular idea of redistricting. A provincial assembly member from the Muslim PPP party argued that "[i]f jobs are allocated in a balanced way, the conflict will at least be dampened." He was one of several Muslims who suggested public debate on breaking Poso into several districts, including one with a Christian majority.14

Economic roots of the conflict

The political struggles have an economic aspect, since political power leads to control over the distribution of government contracts, aid, and jobs. Even more directly, members of the two sides in the conflict were engaged in an ongoing competition to secure land and access to markets for their goods. Once the violence erupted, economic gain, in the form of the cash crops of the displaced, the supply of weapons to the fighters, and the looting of villages, helped to sustain it.

There had once been mutually beneficial trade relationships between the Christians in the uplands and the Muslims on the coast. But changes in the economy, intensified by the currency crash, and the influx of migrants had replaced this relationship with competition over scarce resources. In rural areas the competition over land for cash crops pitted Javanese and Bugis migrants against ethnic Pamona. Because cash crops were sold through Poso traders, ties between urban and rural areas, which frequently shaped battlefield alliances, were economic as well as religious.15

Clashes in urban areas often began in areas of intense economic competition, such as terminals and markets, while in rural areas the harassment of farmers in their cacao groves was used as an excuse to carry out attacks. The radical Muslim group Laskar Jihad cited cacao disputes as the cause of both an October 2001 conflict at Betalemba-Tabalo, and of more extensive attacks that November: "The attack on Tengkora happened because Christians started to harass women who were harvesting cacao... It wasn't planned."16

Laskar Jihad wrote that the October 30, 2001, razing of Pinedapa village took place because for "more than a year the [Christians] have enjoyed the cacao that belongs to Muslims. Unfortunately their determination is not supported by an awareness that they are in a Muslim area. So the umat [Muslim community] was forced to give them a lesson. Tuesday [October 30] there was an armed clash, and by Wednesday Pinedapa had been razed to the ground."17 In a fifteen-point letter to the district assembly, one hard-line Poso Muslim group devoted the third point to the taking of cacao and the cutting down of trees.18

There are indications that the desire for economic gain perpetuated the conflict. In Maluku there are more widespread reports of security forces profiting from protection arrangements, but in Poso, too, an economy inevitably sprung up around the conflict. A profitable cottage industry supplied tens of thousands of weapons, and continued to supply them even after the Malino Declaration, according to press reports. More money went for evacuation: one displaced person reported paying one million rupiah (US$100) for a truck to take four families from Tentena to Palu. Finally, there were reports that the razing of Christian villages in November 2001 was accompanied by well-organized convoys of trucks to loot the household objects and livestock before the villages were burnt to the ground.

A combination of causes

While Poso is often described as an ethnic or religious conflict, this is far too simple a conclusion. There is ample evidence and widespread agreement that the roots of the conflict were multiple and complex. The NGO LPS-HAM concluded that the Poso crisis was caused by the accumulation of economic, criminal, social, and political factors. A report by Muslim academics described the causes in very similar terms. Religion and ethnicity, they concluded, became "political vehicles for certain elite interests."19

However, these deeply-rooted causes do not explain why the conflict was allowed to progress through five phases in four years, leaving approximately 1000 people dead. As noted above, many regions in Indonesia share these tensions, due to the widespread nature of the transmigration program and recent economic and political upheavals. But it was in Poso, as in the Malukus, that the government failed to effectively respond first to minor incidents, and then to increasingly large-scale attacks, allowing the cycle of retribution to escalate out of control.

The Question of Laskar Jihad

While the conflict was brewing in Poso, a new radical Muslim group was emerging on Java. In Jakarta in 1998, faced with a likely democratic transition and increasingly vocal student protests, elements of the political and military elite mobilized Muslim civilian defense groups (pam swakarsa). Some of these groups joined together in a loose union known as the Islam Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, FPI). FPI was often in the news for attacking bars and brothels or making threats towards Americans. In late 2000, there were efforts to bring together Muslim militias (laskar) around the conflict in Maluku. A new organization developed under the leadership of a young religious teacher named Jafar Umar Thalib, who had once fought in Afghanistan. The organization, Laskar Jihad, was far more unified, disciplined, and ideological than previous groups such as FPI.

It is widely believed that a hard line faction of the military helped train and arm Laskar Jihad. The International Crisis Group notes that the "conclusion is unavoidable that the LJ received the backing of elements in the military and police. It was obviously military officers who provided them with military training and neither the military nor the police made any serious effort to carry out the president's order preventing them from going to Maluku. And, once in Maluku, they often obtained standard military arms and on several occasions were openly backed by military personnel and indeed units."20

Laskar Jihad's ties to serving or retired army officers is frequently cited to explain the failure to rein in the armed group as it moved freely through the country to engage in conflict. The American ambassador to Indonesia at the time of these events recently wrote in a letter to a United States senator that the "only time an Army general acted firmly against an indigenous terrorist group, Laskar Jihad, it resulted in his removal from his command, a powerful lesson to others."21

Adding further credibility to the allegations is a recurring pattern since the 1970s of political and military factions trying to break an impasse by taking advantage of both communal tensions and radical Islam.22 This does not mean that Laskar Jihad is a pure creation of the army. The movement has likely benefited from a convergence of interests between its own goals and those of military and political factions.23

In July 2001, after several exploratory visits (and two and half years of conflict), Laskar Jihad arrived in Poso. Their arrival in Poso increased the strength and organization of the Muslim fighters. Some human rights activists in Jakarta theorized that the army had allowed Laskar Jihad to enter the conflict to even the sides, so as to maintain a role for the military and make operations easier. Whatever the motive, the civilian and military authorities failed to protect the human rights of those living in Poso by failing to prevent Laskar Jihad's well-publicized arrival or to stop their well-organized attacks.

Laskar Jihad described their strategy in Poso as a "multidimensional approach... deploying not only ground troop volunteers but also those in the field of advocacy, health care, logistics, proselytizing (dakwah), public relations and other areas that help support this noble movement."24 Laskar Jihad representatives described their mission to Human Rights Watch as threefold: spiritual guidance, humanitarian aid, and defense of their fellow Muslims.

Laskar Jihad set up guard posts in key spots, such as the border of Christian Betalemba and Muslim Tabalo, with no constraints from the police. A Laskar Jihad advocacy team worked with Muslim legal groups in Palu and Jakarta, frequently issuing joint statements or meeting with political figures to urge action following attacks on Muslims by Christian fighters or security forces.25 By late August they were publishing a daily news report in Poso called Bel@: Berita Laskar Jihad. Typically covering the latest developments in the conflict, the one-pager also included spiritual instruction, information on health services, and calls for jihad:

Poso still awaits attention of the mujahidin, this land longs for the return of Muslims that want to jihad to defend their region, to defend the respect and authority of the community of Muhammad. In the land of Poso the arena of jihad is wide open and promise the highest reward from Allah. The land of jihad is here, on our land, in our hometown: POSO!26

Muslims argued that they needed Laskar Jihad to defend them. An academic who would later head the Muslim delegation at the Malino talks defended Laskar Jihad as having come to defend Muslims from inhumane attacks. The presence of the Laskar Jihad members (2,000 in his liberal estimate) was legal, he argued, because they reported to provincial and district officials when they arrived and tried to help the government prevent the spread of conflict as "partners of local government."27 Laskar Jihad itself proclaimed, "If security forces are really no longer able to protect the rights of the Muslims, then we are forced to do it ourselves." A member of their legal team told Human Rights Watch that they made the decision to come to Sulawesi after a visit in June showed that the Muslims were outmatched, citing the July 3, 2001, killings at Buyung Katedo. The group was able to take advantage of Muslim fears and government inaction to promote its own agenda of radical Islam and domestic jihad.

As Ramadan began in December 2001, women in Poso and nearby villages increasingly wore Muslim dress as urged by religious leaders. Handbills posted by Laskar Jihad around town urged women to wear head coverings (jilbab), and also threatened purveyors of alcohol and gamblers with "action" if they remained open. Both Muslim and Christian residents told Human Rights Watch that women who did not wear jilbab were harassed and called kongkoli (an epithet for Christians). However, one young woman explained to Human Rights Watch that her decision to wear a jilbab was purely voluntary, and that Laskar Jihad had only helped locals become better Muslims.

Laskar Jihad was open about training residents to fight, but also careful to present itself as a partner of the security forces and civilian authorities. A senior Laskar Jihad member named Abdurrahman wrote, "Laskar Jihad itself has already several times held joint trainings with residents... The goal is that communities can create neighborhood watch groups in their areas to help the work of security forces," not to replace the police but to assist them.28 Over time the relationship with security forces began to fray.

As in Maluku, Laskar Jihad strove to depict their struggle as a fight for the integrity of Indonesia. They claimed the Christians manipulated human rights and democracy to free East Timor. They further claimed that Christians in Maluku used ethno-religious conflict to fight for the Republic of the Southern Moluccas (Republik Maluku Selatan, an independence movement dating from the 1950s), and tried to get the United Nations involved in the Malukus. Since Poso did not even have a remnant separatist movement, Laskar Jihad argued that Christians were trying to create an independence movement. The radical Muslim group warned that if the call for a Christian-majority district "is fulfilled maybe tomorrow they will demand their own country." Another Muslim group urged the Poso district assembly to declare the Christian fighters to be separatists who were undermining the recognized government.29

The arrival of Laskar Jihad coincided with a spike in violence in July 2001 and was followed later that year by a surge in attacks on villages. In September, Laskar Jihad leaders urged Muslims to prepare for the next phase. In mid-November, as things were heating up, Laskar Jihad did a joint training with the people of Mapane and the neighboring hamlet of Pattirobajo. The event is described as a day of physical training and "theoretical knowledge about various techniques of battle." Unlike previous training efforts believed to be held by both sides, Laskar Jihad carried out trainings publicly. After a training at Toliba, Tojo subdistrict, a Laskar Jihad "military instructor" named Abu Ayyub remarked he was pleased with the enthusiasm of the fifty participants.30

Although hard-liners on both sides frequently spoke out against the other group, Laskar Jihad's rhetoric targeted peace efforts themselves. Its daily publication, which the group posted on walls and sold in shops, was interspersed with militant claims that the root cause of the conflict was religion not politics, and that reconciliation was yet another attempt by Christians to grab power. In keeping with the organization's ideology of a state of war between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim (kafir) world, Christians were referred to as kafirs, or the newly-coined epithet kongkoli.31 After describing an alleged attack on Muslims among their clove trees on August 20, 2001, the writers urged: "This matter should open the eyes of government officials to see the reality, that the request for reconciliation from the Christians is at its essence their strategy to consolidate their organization." Reconciliation was in their eyes a "campaign of `rekongkoliasi'... a strategy to cheat, fool, and betray Muslims."32

The arrival of Laskar Jihad in July 2001 increased the strength of the Muslim side by adding several hundred experienced fighters, some of them armed with automatic weapons, according to Christian eyewitnesses. One result was a shift from the skirmishes and hit-and-run attacks of the previous year to frontal attacks that razed Christian villages to the ground. Laskar Jihad's own accounts of the fighting detail well-organized attacks over several days carried out in close cooperation with local Muslims. The openness of Laskar Jihad's arrival, training, and role in armed attacks demonstrated the security forces' unwillingness to prevent conflict.

Laskar Jihad is losing its untouchability at the national level. On May 4, 2002, the group's founder and "commander-in-chief" (panglima) Jafar Umar Thalib was arrested in connection with a speech he made in Maluku prior to a bloody attack on a Christian village. A top Christian leader was also arrested. While Thalib's arrest was an important step, it will be important to see how such politically difficult prosecutions proceed, and to arrest those directly responsible for the continuing violence. Although Thalib's trial began August 14, many observers are skeptical that Thalib will be convicted. In a sign of the high political stakes of the case, top Muslim politicians, including Vice-President Hamzah Haz, visited Thalib in detention. In a surprise move, just days after the October 12 terrorist attack on Bali put the spotlight on radical Islam in Indonesia, Laskar Jihad announced its decision to disband.


After the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was renewed scrutiny of radical Islam in Indonesia and throughout the world. In Poso, the label "provocateur" was replaced by "terrorist." As early as September 28, Laskar Jihad was denying links to al-Qaeda. The group's leader, Jafar Umar Thalib, had fought the Russians in Afghanistan, but claimed to have turned down offers of support from Bin Laden due to philosophical and religious differences. The evidence so far indicates that, while some Indonesians were undoubtedly involved in international terrorist networks, Laskar Jihad itself maintained a primarily domestic agenda. While a few radical organizations made a show of registering Indonesians ready to fight the United States in Afghanistan, Laskar Jihad provided careful reasoning why jihad in Poso or Maluku was more important for Indonesian Muslims. The argument included theological and practical reasons, such as language, cost, and climate, concluding, "[t]hanks to Allah for bringing the battlefield of jihad to our archipelago."33

In late 2001 Poso returned to the spotlight after an al-Qaeda suspect in Spain testified that hundreds of international fighters had been trained in the region. The Indonesian intelligence chief A. M. Hendropriyono then described Poso as an area of "link-up" between international terrorists and domestic radicals.34 The Central Sulawesi Police Chief said police had investigated reports of training camps in Kapompa, Tojo subdistrict, but found no evidence. The police did say a few days later that they found an abandoned warehouse that could have been used as a training camp, but offered no evidence.35

After Muslim politicians criticized Hendropriyono for making accusations without proof, he explained that his comments were based on the Spanish case rather than domestic intelligence. He may have had a variety of motives for supporting the allegations. The presence of terrorists could increase the likelihood of reviving United States support for the Indonesian army. Some analysts also thought his comments were designed to make it easier to remove domestic radical groups, such as Laskar Jihad, from the conflict areas. Hendropriyono's later comments do indicate pressure on Laskar Jihad: "the people of Sulawesi... want to resolve their problem themselves. This means it will be best if the presence of those who do not belong there can be ended with appropriate measures." He stressed that once such groups are removed, the government will protect all parties.36

The most recent indication of a link between al-Qaeda and conflict in Poso came with the arrest of a German national named Seyam Reda in Jakarta on September 17, 2002. Reda has been linked to a suspected al-Qaeda operative named Omar Al-Faruq, who had been arrested in Indonesia and turned over to American officials. Reda was found with videotapes showing training activities from a conflict area in Indonesia. Police officials implied it was either Poso or Maluku, and unnamed sources who had seen the tapes told the press the tapes showed trainees with automatic weapons in the Poso area in December 2001.37

The rough terrain of Central Sulawesi makes it possible that an al-Qaeda training camp existed undetected at some point, and the initial information from Spain was partly corroborated by a later arrest in the Philippines.38 Several Christian victims and fighters reported foreigners among the Muslim fighters, such as at a battle near Pandajaya village.

However, no fighters or activists from either side interviewed by Human Rights Watch thought there was an international network such as al-Qaeda involved in the conflict. A Muslim religious leader in Palu told Human Rights Watch: "I'm not denying there was training. There was. But there was no connection with al-Qaeda. The training was done by lots of people, ex-military for example... Any Muslim can become a mujahiddin if threatened. So the people of Poso have become mujahiddin, even children can join in. But there is no al-Qaeda here. Bin Laden has not come here, although it would be great if he did come!"39

It is not clear to what extent there is an al-Qaeda presence in Central Sulawesi. What is clear is that the conditions said to be conducive to their operations-including four years of lawlessness, conflict, and Muslim radicalization-have developed, in part, because of the policies of the very institutions now sought by the U.S. as allies in the fight against terror. While it is not surprising that the United States is seeking more cooperation from the Indonesian military, in the absence of effective oversight and accountability mechanisms these institutions may prove to be poor partners in the war on terror.

3 Loraine Aragon, "Communal Violence in Poso," p. 56.

4 The Soeharto government quickly clamped down on any indication of communal violence, which was characterized as SARA, an acronym for ethnic, religious, racial, or intergroup (suku, agama, ras, antargolongan) conflict.

5 Drs. Suriadi Mappangara, ed., Respon Militer Terhadap Konflik Sosial di Poso, (Palu: Yayasan Bina Warga, 2001), pp. 35-6.

6 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld upon request, Palu, March 2002.

7 Lorraine Aragon, "Communal Violence in Poso," pp. 74-5.

8 Mappangara, ed., Respon militer, p. 67.

9 Human Rights Watch interviews, names withheld upon request, Tentena, Napu and Poso, March 2001.

10 Appendix 2: "Balance of Strategic posts in Poso District, 1989-1999," in Mappangara, ed., Respon militer.

11 Mappangara, ed., Respon militer, p. 66.

12 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld upon request, Palu, March 2002.

13 Erik W. and Damar, "Government criticized over sectarian conflict in Poso", Jakarta Post, December 19, 2001; Lembaga Pengembangan Studi Hukum dan Advokasi Hak Asasi Manusia (LPS-HAM) and Pusat Kajian Dan Pengembangan Media, "Pandangan Akhir Tahun: Situasi Hak Asasi Manusia dan Tindak Kekerasan di Sulawesi Tengah Tahun 2001 (End of Year View: The Situation of Human Rights and Violence in Central Sulawesi in 2001)," December 14, 2001, p. 8.

14 "Mustar: Penyebab Konflik Tak Terjadinya Power Sharing," Mercusuar, July 5, 2001; "Poso Membara, Siapa Yang Salah," Mercusuar, July 6, 2001. In May 2002 there was discussion of creating a new province of East Sulawesi made up of the districts of Banggai, Banggai Kepulauan, Morowali, and Poso.

15 Aragon, "Communal Violence in Poso," p. 56.

16 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld upon request, March 2002.

17 Berita Laskar Jihad, No. 3, November 3, 2001

18 Forum Silaturrahim dan Perjuangan Muslim Umat Islam (FSPUI), July 10, 2001.

19 LPS-HAM, "Pandangan Akhir Tahun," p. 20. Mappangara, ed., Respon militer, p. 121-2.

20 International Crisis Group, "Indonesia: Violence And Radical Muslims," October 10, 2001. The Center for Defense Information recently concurred: "The support the militant group continues to receive from the highest levels of the Indonesian military ensures its survival. Sympathizers within TNI are believed to provide the group with cash, and possibly arms, and to order Moluccan officials not to crack down on Laskar Jihad members. According to Western intelligence sources, Laskar Jihad was actually founded with covert backing of military hardliners who wished to destabilize the post-Soeharto reformist government of Abdurrahman Wahid." Center for Defense Information, "In the Spotlight: Laskar Jihad," March 8, 2002.

21 Letter from Ambassador Larry Gelbard to Senator Patrick Leahy, July 18, 2002.

22 See International Crisis Group, "al-Qaeda In Southeast Asia: The Case Of The `Ngruki Network' In Indonesia," August 8, 2002. An expert on Islam in Indonesia similarly concludes, `Rather than "Islamic' extremism or primordial passion, then, the proximate cause of Indonesia's plague of religious violence has been elements of the old regime seeking to destabilize the country so as to block political reform." Robert W. Hefner, Muslim-Christian Violence in Maluku: The Role of National Politics, paper presented for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Hearing on the Maluku Islands, Washington D.C., February 13, 2001 (on file at Human Rights Watch).

23 Human Rights Watch interview with Robert Hefner, August 2002.

24 Ayip Syafruddin, "Mengapa Laskar Jihad ke Poso," Mercusuar (Palu), August 7-8, 2001,

25 "DPRD Sulteng Akan Bentuk Tim Kerja Tangani Poso," Berita Laskar Jihad, August 25, 2002.

26 Berita Laskar Jihad, September 26, 2001. In Laskar Jihad's belief system, jihad is not a metaphorical struggle, but an actual one that pits the world of Muslims against the world of non-Muslims, or kafirs.

27 "Laskar Jihad Merupakan Mitra Pemerintah," Prof. Dr. Sulaiman Mamar, MA.

28 Berita Laskar Jihad, September 22, 2001.

29 "Kongkalikong Para Kongkoli," Berita Laskar Jihad, September 22, 2001; "Akar Masalah Tragedi Poso Adalah Kristenaisasi," Berita Laskar Jihad, August 31, 2001; Forum Silaturrahim dan Perjuangan Muslim Umat Islam (FSPUI), July 10, 2001.

30 Berita Laskar Jihad, No. 13 11/14; Berita Laskar Jihad, December 10, 2001.

31 The term is derived from the name of a prominent pastor, a local tree, and the word for conspiracy.

32 "Pasukan Merah Tembak Warga Mapane," Berita Laskar Jihad, October 12, 2001.

33 Berita Laskar Jihad, October 11, 2001.

34 Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, "International training camp in Poso 'empty'," Jakarta Post, December 14, 2001; "Kepala BIN Hendropriyono: Poso Jadi Ajang 'Link-Up' Teroris Internasional,"Kompas Cybermedia, December 13, 2001; Greg Fealy, "Is Indonesia a terrorist base?" Inside Indonesia no.71, (July-September 2002).

35 "Kapolda Sulteng Bantah Jaringan al-Qaeda Beroperasi di Poso," Kompas Cybermedia, December 13, 2001; "Indonesian police say abandoned warehouse may be former al-Qaeda camp," Associated Free Press, December 19, 2001.

36 "Hendropriyono Tuding Al-Qaidah Terlibat Kerusuhan Poso," Republika, December 13, 2001.

37 "Indonesian ministers view tapes seized from German," Reuters, September 30, 2002. Leaked foreign intelligence reports were said to state that al-Faruq had admitted to mounting Christmas 2000 church bombings and to helping Agus Dwikarna, now detained in the Philippines, to create Laskar Jundullah, a militant Islamic group active in Sulawesi. Romesh Ratnesar, "Confessions of an al-Qaeda Terrorist,", September 15, 2002; Maria Ressa, "al-Qaeda links to Indonesian violence,", August 14, 2002.

38 After an Indonesian named Agus Dwikarna was arrested in the Philippines in March 2002, The Washington Post reported that unidentified intelligence officials alleged that a camp "located in dense jungle near the port city of Poso" was attended in late 2000 by two dozen Filipinos from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, several Malaysians from the Malaysian Mujaheddin Group, and "scores" from the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. Dwikarna was alleged to have provided documentation for the foreigners through a humanitarian organization, helping to bring them to Poso to train and participate in attacks in Sulawesi and Maluku. "Indonesian Arrested in Manila Had Ties to al-Qaeda," Washington Post Foreign Service, May 9, 2002. For more on Dwikarna, see International Crisis Group, "al-Qaeda In Southeast Asia: The Case Of The `Ngruki Network' In Indonesia", August 8, 2002.

39 Human Rights Watch interview with Ustad Yahya Al-Ahmri, Palu, March 2001.

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