Jakarta. The brother of two of the men executed for the 2002 Bali bombing has confirmed that one of his former Islamic school students was killed in the recent sectarian violence in Iraq, where he had reportedly gone to wage jihad, or holy war.
“It’s true that Wildan was a student at my Al Islam school for three years, before he went to an Islamic school in Egypt,” Ali Fauzi told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.
“I haven’t been able to get into contact with him since he left for Iraq. When I did talk to him, he never told me he intended to be a suicide bomber in Iraq or Syria,” added Ali, the youngest brother of Amrozi and Ali Ghufron, executed in 2008 for their roles in planning the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people.
Wildan, full name Wildan Mukhollad bin Lasmin, was reportedly killed in early February in Iraq while fighting forces loyal to the government.
He had reportedly joined the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and fought against Syrian government forces in Aleppo before going to Iraq.
The revelation about an Indonesian taking part in the sectarian violence gripping the region lends credence to a report issued last month by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, which said that dozens of Indonesians had taken up arms with opposition groups in Syria fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“As far as we know the number of Indonesian combatants is still in the dozens, but it could climb,” Sidney Jones, the IPAC director, said in the report “Indonesians and the Syrian Conflict.”
“Jihadi humanitarian assistance teams now appear to be facilitating the entry of fighters as well.”
IPAC said the Indonesian organization that had been most active in Syria since the conflict erupted was Jemaah Islamiyah — the same organization responsible for the Bali bombing but which “has disengaged from violence in Indonesia” since 2007.
“Its leaders, who have been vilified in recent years by more militant groups for abandoning jihad, are now regaining their prestige,” IPAC said.
“They argue that the ‘jihad experiment’ in Indonesia is just wasting energies that could be more appropriately be deployed in a war with global consequences.”
The report said that Indonesian involvement in Syria could have various domestic impacts.
“Returning mujahidin could infuse new life and leadership into what has become a weak and ineffectual jihadi movement,” it said.
“It is already reviving JI’s fortunes but it could strengthen other groups that prove adept at fund-raising for Syria. It could also connect Indonesia again to the global jihad, from which it has largely been removed since the demise of terrorist leader Noordin Top,” the Bali bombing mastermind.
The government says it cannot confirm the involvement of Indonesian fighters in the Syrian conflict.
“We cannot as yet verify it. But the government has been making efforts to bring back all its citizens from that country,” Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Monday, as quoted by Antara.
Noor Huda Ismail, the founder of the Institute for International Peace Building, which assists in the government’s deradicalization program for former terrorists, told The New York Times that there was a danger that the return of Indonesian fighters from the conflict, seen as a Sunni-Shiite issue, could exacerbate tensions between the two Muslim groups in the country. The Jakarta Globe