[Jakarta, 20 January 2023] As the influence of ISIS wanes, one of Indonesia’s oldest extremist networks is coming back in focus. Darul Islam, a movement that proclaimed the Islamic State of Indonesia (Negara Islam Indonesia, NII) in 1949 has produced generations of violent splinter groups. A member of one of those was the suicide bomber in an attack on a police station in Bandung in December 2022. The challenge for the government is how handle a network with tens of thousands of members, only a tiny fraction of whom will commit criminal acts, but whose ideology promotes jihad as the means to achieve a state governed by Islamic law.
The Search for an Islamic State in Indonesia: The Many Guises of DI/NII, the latest report from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) answers frequently asked questions about DI/NII from its ideology to the difference among its many factions, to why its members are susceptible to recruitment by more extreme organizations, to the reasons for the recent rise in DI/NII arrests. It also looks at the government’s strategy of islah (reconciliation) where hundreds of members who have never been involved in violence are offered the chance to swear allegiance to the Indonesian republic as an alternative to arrest.
The new report explores the discovery of a 250-strong NII group in Bali in mid-2021; linked branches in West Sumatra and South Tangerang in March 2022 totaling more than 1,000 people; and isolated actions by current or former NII members in late 2022.
It examines the different strongholds of Darul Islam from West Java and Banten to South Sulawesi and West Sulawesi, its sources of financing, and why one faction was inspired by the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan in August 2021.
IPAC notes that banning the organization likely would be ineffective and simply push the clandestine factions of the network further underground. The government instead could usefully deploy some of the measures it has used in relation to other extremist organization, including uncovering and tightening control over charities and businesses run by the group. It could examine the marriage patterns of DI/NII members arrested on terrorism charges over the last ten years to understand how marriages strengthens internal solidarity and reinforces the authority of the leaders who arrange them. Finally, it could encourage the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) to fund studies that would follow up on some of the participants in islah programs to see how effective these are over time.