Jihad Recruiter Arrested

Jan 19th, 2006, in News, by

One Subur Sugiarto, usually called Abu Mujahid, a member of the unusually active Semarang, northern central Java wing of the Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, was arrested yesterday while traveling on a bus in the town of Boyolali in central Java. He admitted to the police that his main function was in the recruitment area.

When he was arrested he was carrying a bag containing books, a sharp weapon, VCDs and a tape recorder. Mujahid is believed to be an associate of the Malaysian national Noordin M. Top. His arrest brings the total number of terrorist captures this week to five, all of them in the towns and villages of central Java.

Why there is so much activity in the city of Semarang, and central Java generally, is a question of some interest considering that, in comparison, western Java is a far more Islamically oriented area and it might be expected that much of the terrorist network would revolve around people there instead. Perhaps it is that the authorities just have a better handle on terrorist operations in central Java, have penetrated the network better. One arrest leads to confessions and information gained, more arrests follow.


The man, Subur Sugiarto, is a teacher of Islam and is believed to have acted as a mentor to the three men who committed the suicide bombings in Bali, October 2005. It appears that his home in Kendal, near Semarang, had been raided by police last November and there was found 40 M-16 bullets, 40 pistol bullets, books on Islam, VCD recordings, bomb-making manuals.


The arrest of Subur Sugiarto has led to two further arrests, of Joko Wibowo, 25, with the jihadist alias of “Abu Sayaf”, in the central Javanese town of Karanganyar, and Ibnu Pramono, 30, in Semarang. Both men were captured by the specialist police anti-terror unit Detachment 88. Small amounts of ammunition and a few weapons were siezed.

Wibowo is thought to be a friend of Malaysian terrorist Noordin M. Top while Pramono is said to have frequently lent his motorcycle to certain under-suspicion Muslim clerics. Both men are friends of Subur Sugiarto.

This brings the total number of arrests this week in central Java to eight.


Joko Wibowo alias Abu Sayyaf, or Sayaf, a member of the Solo, official name Surakarta, branch of the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), the Mujahidin Council of Indonesia, arrested in connection with the second Bali bomb attacks of October 2005 claims he has been tortured by the police. Today the Mujahidin Council delivered a protest to General Sutanto of the national police claiming that Sayaf has been tortured while in custody.

We are delivering this protest to General Sutanto because he is the highest police official in the country.

said MMI chairman Fauzan Al Anshori.

We know that Abu Sayyaf was tortured after the MMI saw him at the central Java police headquarters on 3 February 2006 after he had been captured in Karanganyar, 19 January 2006.

Fauzan went on to say that the man in question had a number of visible scars and marks on his body including cigarette burns, cuts and marks from electric shocks, and his fingers and toes were black and blue.

Abu Sayyaf has experienced inhuman torture at the hands of police interrogators.

Because of the violation of his human rights we demand that Joko Wibowo alias Abu Sayyaf be freed and measures be taken against those responible for his mistreatment.

He further said that if the demands of the MMI were not acknowledged by the police it would be proof that the Indonesian security forces were in league with the United States in its war against the Muslim world.

General Sutanto’s response is not known but a general of the central Java police, Dody Sumantyawan, dismissed the claims.

It’s not true that there has been physical abuse. And the media does not need to exaggerate. He’s not being abused. He’s fine.

8 Comments on “Jihad Recruiter Arrested”

  1. Felis says:

    Perhaps it is that the authorities just have a better handle on terrorist operations in central Java, have penetrated the network better.

    I think this is the case.
    Still, good work.
    I really would like to know how sympathetic to the Islamic causes the security forces are.
    Culd you comment on that?

  2. David says:

    Well I could make a comment but it would be a fairly ignorant one as I can’t say with any certainty. It’s well known that in the military for example, there are two broad factions, red = nationalist/secular/possibly-Christian-especially-Catholic, and green = Islamist. Since the nineties the green side have been in the ascendancy. They caused a lot of problems in Maluku for the Christians. I’m referring to the regular army.

    The Marine Corps are the closest thing Indonesia has to professional soldiery and they are generally regarded as neutral in the political and sectarian areas.

    I would imagine something similar, I mean the red/green split, pertains in the police. The anti-terror unit Detachment 88 are U.S. trained and almost certainly there are no problems with them. The para-military wing of the police is the Mobile Brigade and traditionally they are “red”, Catholic dominated. The regular police I couldn’t say on the whole, they’ve always struck me as buffoons only interested in padding their pockets.

  3. Felis says:

    …but it would be a fairly ignorant one as I can’t say with any certainty.
    Certainly, I do understand. I don’t expect you to have source knowledge on every aspect of life in Indonesia.
    Your gut feelings, and also your thoughts on all the Indonesian issues are still far more what I can gather from the newspapers.
    ALso you are honest in presenting your opinions.

    One more question: What are the real numbers of Christians in Indonesia?
    From what you have said they are either disproportionally well represented in the administration, army etc or the official numbers we get from the Indonesian government agencies aren’t true.
    The main stream media also tend to ignore the fact that there are still people in various parts of Indonesia, who are …well.. say animistic in their religious beliefs.
    How big this group in your opinion might be?

  4. David says:

    The official figures from 2000 say nine percent for Christians roughly 60/40 Protestant/Catholic split. This number is almost certainly greater in reality although perhaps not very significantly. I know a few people who are Christians but their identity cards say “Islam” and it is difficult to change this.

    Christians here, perhaps like Christians in the middle east, and Jews in Europe, do tend to be over-represented in some areas, tend to be better educated, wealthier, etc. I don’t think this phenomenon is unique to Indonesia obviously.

    Animists not sure. The Indonesian government doesn’t like to be reminded about the animist thing. I think the Dayaks in Borneo are counted as Hindus even though they aren’t Hindus at all. Even on Java a fair number of Muslims practise at least some form of animism, and this would be true of some Christians in the outer islands as well.

    Sorry can’t really give numbers. A bit off-topic and I’m not accusing you but generally I’d be wary of making too much of religious differences among people here. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes. When people are cornered in certain situations that get out of hand they are then forced to choose sides I guess but for a lot of people most of the time the sectarian differences they see all around them are just not important. The political Islamists today I’m not sure are aware of how dangerous the road they are trying to go down is, the key thing as far as I see, for the long-term stability of Indonesia, should be to always downplay religious adherence in terms of viewing the identity of people from the state’s point of view. Most people’s instincts are I think in this vein.

  5. Felis says:

    I’d be wary of making too much of religious differences among people here.
    Twenty years ago I am sure there wouldn’t be much of a difference between various religious groups at all and the pride in the “new” nationhood was definetely a very strong unifying factor. I knew about twent diffrent individuals from Indonesia living here in Australia and religious zeal was as far removed from them as it is in Japan these days.
    Don’t you think it has changed since then?
    I mean with all the money the Arbab Islamists were pouring into Indenesia?
    I havent’s heard much at all about young girls having their heads chopped off for being Christian or about exploding butcher shops twenty years ago.
    Mind you I simply haven’t heard about it but of course it could’ve happened as well.

  6. David says:

    Yes there has certainly been an increase in some types of activities but radical Islam has always been here, you don’t see any armed, mass rebellions by people demanding an Islamic state now but you did in the fifties in west Java and Sulawesi. In this type of activity there has actually been a decrease in radicalism. Again in the fifties the biggest political party wanted an Islamic state and they actively tried for it. Today it is only smaller parties that want it and they rarely bring it up in public.

    Twenty years ago the Suharto regime was in power and it suppressed Islamic groups. After his fall it was probably inevitable that the Islamists would crawl out from under where they were hiding and start making trouble again but if you compare it to the time before Suharto it doesn’t seem so surprising or shocking.

    I said for “a lot of people most of the time” and I meant ordinary people. I’m close to a family that’s mixed, Catholic branches and Muslim branches and I can’t see religion playing much of a part in how they relate to each other.

    As for the beheaded Christian schoolgirls and related stuff I don’t know to what extent religious radicalism played a role. It did of course in some measure but there may have been other factors, some groups benefit from strife in their political and business activities and I’m always aware of how much for a lot of people here their real god is not “Allah” it’s money. This is something that needs further research on my part though.

  7. Amber says:

    I was just researching information for Semarang and I stumbled upon this website. I read what you all had to say and have a question. I am going on a mission trip to Semarang and want to have a good idea regarding safety for Christians in the area. Is the area fairly safe or is safety something I should be concerned about? I would just like to have a good idea of the kind of area I am heading into. Thanks for your help.

  8. David says:

    Hi Amber,

    Semarang is fine, there is a large Christian minority there. I really wouldn’t worry. If your visit there involves trying to convert Muslims then that is a different matter, but otherwise most local people will welcome you.

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