Jemaah Islamiyah Tracing the Roots Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Social dynamics, meanwhile, look into the prevalent perception of JI's society and the international viewpoint on radical Islamism. Lastly, the political dynamics centers on the viewpoints supporting and opposing JI activities, specifically its linkage with Al-Qaeda.

Religious dynamics

Explicated earlier is the ultimate goal of JI in establishing itself as an Islamic militant group: to create an Islam-centered social order, starting specifically in Indonesia. Jones' (2005) analysis of the history of JI as a terrorist organization delved deeply into the events surrounding its early establishment in Indonesia, and its later development as one of the Muslim groups who subsisted to jihad to promote this main objective.

Jihad is an important concept in the lives of JI members, for this became the manner in which it succeeded in increasing its membership and strengthening its network of Muslim militant groups, both locally and internationally. Among the initial contacts that JI had in establishing itself as the "locus of jihad" in Asia were Singapore and Malaysia. The decision to recruit members within these countries was motivated by a geo-political strategy: by expanding its territory of influence from Indonesia to Malaysia and Singapore, JI is gradually strengthening its hold on Asian Muslim countries, wherein leadership of the jihad would be concentrated on Indonesia, the first independent, pure Islamic state (171).

The history of JI as a strong Muslim organization in Asia yet covers the most important relations it had with an external non-Asian organization: the Al-Qaeda. In tracing the religious dynamics between the JI-Al-Qaeda connection, Jones noted the transition JI experienced as it transcended its operations from domestic affairs to international ones. Prior to establishing its connection with Al-Qaeda, JI is strictly a "focused on domestic political struggles," although they have been exposed to the training and other jihad programs launched by Muslim groups in Middle East and South Asia. Significant, however, was the finding that as part of the Islamic militant group network in which JI belongs, its leaders were trained in Sayyaf camps, which is part of the network's "austere practice of Islam" (173).

The pivotal transition of JI from being a militant group to being a terrorist organization is marked by the purposes in which jihad is conducted or declared against 'attackers of Muslims.' Jones determined that JI members are strict adherents of the jihad cause, individuals who feel obligated to consider "operational targets" and "obvious enemies" individuals or groups who attack Muslims. This has changed when the Bali bombing happened, for the victims of the said bombing where not operational targets or obvious enemies of the JI. This distinction marked JI's transition to being a terrorist organization, wherein the "sign of disaffection" noted in Al-Qaeda operations/attacks were reflected in the Bali bombing (174).

From this information chronicling the movements and developments of JI in terms of establishing and widening its network, it can be said that indeed, JI is the "locus of jihad," as it would like to be depicted as a Muslim organization. The linkage between Al-Qaeda is an inevitable connection waiting to happen, simply because both organizations achieved in each other what the other cannot accomplish single-handedly. That is, Al-Qaeda was able to gather support from the Muslim community through the JI, wherein its terrorist training and programs in the guise of declaring jihad against the enemies of Islam were implemented. On the other end, Al-Qaeda provided logistics support to JI in implementing its 'holy war' against individuals and groups it perceives as its 'enemies' or 'targets' who attack Muslims and/or the Islam religion.

Social dynamics

Equally important with the religious dynamics of the development of JI are the social dynamics that further reinforced its image as a terrorist organization. This facet of analyzing JI as a Muslim organization provides two opposing views about JI: one view portraying it as a righteous Muslim organization protecting fellow Muslims from persecution, discrimination and injustice by non-Muslims, and another view depicting it as a terrorist organization whose need to fulfill jihad is greater than the potential (and actual) loss of innocent lives from terrorist attacks and numerous suicide bombings.

Between these two facets, the dominant and most subsisted is the belief that JI is a terrorist organization motivated strongly in its goal of successfully accomplishing jihad at the expense of other people's lives. Singh (2004) explicated on this particular view, further specifying that JI, like other stereotypes held against Muslim organizations, target the U.S. And Christians in its holy war (57):

The Bali perpetrators seem to hate the Americans and Christians more and tend to be less preoccupied with ideological goals. For them, becoming a Shahid or martyr seems more fulfilling, something that also explains the increased spate of suicide bombings in the was more useful not to look so much for a grand international conspiracy behind the specific acts of terrorism but to take a closer look at the psychological profile of the individuals and a closer study of the local context in which terrorists operate.

From this passage, the slant against JI as perceived by the American society is evident in explaining the dynamics that occurred as suicide bombings and terrorist attacks become more prevalently practiced among Muslims against Americans and/or Christians. But more than just a prejudiced or judgmental view against the JI, Singh's report contains a thorough look into the lives of Muslims -- that is, looking at the terrorism problem as the end result of collective actions committed by individuals, rather than an attacks resulting from group influence or ideology. This individualistic look into JI as a terrorist organization harboring members with doubtful "psychological profiles" reiterates the lack of understanding and quick judgment that Western societies/observers tend to subsist to when confronted with the issue of terrorism as it relates to JI, as well as Al-Qaeda.

Chehab (2006) resounded the Singh's report on the dominant prejudice against militant groups like the JI, mainly because: (1) they use violence and/or force in accomplishing its holy war, and (2) they are allegedly collaborating and affiliating with Al-Qaeda in committing these terrorist/violent acts. if, more than anything, the offensive attack against Al-Qaeda further intensified the animosity between Muslims and Americans, proving that despite the prejudiced, dominant view against Muslims as terrorists, Chehab concedes that despite the crippling of Al-Qaeda as a terrorist group, "other groups have succeeded in making the arduous journey" (3). Whether these terrorist actions are motivated individually or collectively, the continuous commitment of terrorist attacks and "holy war" violent acts demonstrate that, as Wright-Neville posited earlier, the continuous dominance of the status quo, that is, U.S. power and democracy as the dominant social order, results to the continued struggle of the Muslims to break this status quo.

Political dynamics

As a function of politics, the political dynamics behind the development and transition of JI as a terrorist organization stems from its religious and social dynamics. That is, in Singh's analysis, "Islam has replaced communism as America's number one enemy in the post-Cold War and post-September 11 strategic environment" (61). This analysis is an apt way of illustrating how, as U.S. confronts the fact that its political control and power over nations is becoming unstable, Islam and Muslims have become the 'most convenient' "scapegoats" by which the U.S. can throw blame on the numerous insurgencies, political unrest, and large-scale conflicts occurring in nations/societies all over the world.

This political dynamics demonstrate how JI assumes the role of the 'U.S. opponent,' a group that has managed to publicly and strongly challenge the idea of democracy and U.S. dominance in international politics and economy. What the current crackdown against JI and its allegiance with Al-Qaeda is the Western country's response to the increasingly becoming unpopular view of democracy vs. other extant forms of societies and cultures.

Summary & Conclusion

Discussing and analyzing the development of the Islam group Jemaah Islamiyah can be interpreted into two stages: first, by looking into the roots of JI's development from being a militant group to a terrorist organization, and second, by analyzing the dynamics that further reinforced the worldview and perceived image of JI as a terrorist group strongly linked with Al-Qaeda.

The roots of JI are determined as undergoing two phases towards its eventual development as a terrorist organization. In the first phase, JI is initially identified as an Islamic militant group, whose primary goal is to establish a world order that is Islam-centered -- that is, the creation of an independent Islamic state, projected through Indonesia. The second phase, meanwhile, centered onto JI as a terrorist organization, developing into one as a result of JI's objective of increasing its network to promote and implement its initial goal of creating an independent Islamic state.

The dynamics involving the development of JI as a terrorist organization and the strengthening of its ties with Al-Qaeda can be interpreted and analyzed thoroughly through the organization's religious, social, and political dynamics. The organization's religious dynamics put…

Sources Used in Documents:


9/11." (2006). Foreign Policy, Issue 156.

Chehab, Z. (2006). "Al-Qaeda: Still a step ahead." New Statesman, Vol. 135, Issue 4799.

Jones, S. (2005). "The changing nature of Jemaah Islamiyah." Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 59, Issue 2.

Kaplan, D. (2003). "The shadow over the summit." U.S. News & World Report, Vol. 135, Issue 13.

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