Jakarta – Indonesia's hardline Muslim groups appear to have mixed views on suicide bombings. While they condemn terror attacks in Indonesia that have wrongly targeted innocent people, these groups declare that bombings and suicide attacks are legitimate in conflict-ridden areas when Muslims are under attack.
"Jihad is conditional. You can fight till your death if a country is being attacked or when a leader of the nation orders you to fight the enemy," said Mr Fauzan Al-Anshori, a spokesman for the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), a hardline group that was founded by Jemaah Islamiah's spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir.
Jihad – Arabic for struggle – has been narrowly interpreted by extremists as holy war against the perceived enemy of Islam.
"The enemy in question, is of course, the Untied States, but there is no presence of the US military here, so we cannot wage such a holy war here," said Mr Fauzan.
He added that terrorist groups conducted attacks on Indonesian soil because they believed that the government was merely a lackey of the US, but they "missed" their target by killing many innocent people.
"We differ in our views with Imam Samudra (the 2002 Bali bomber now on Death Row) and his friends, including the suicide attackers, but we do not think that they are terrorists.
"They are mujaheeds (Islamic warriors). But just because they are mujaheeds does not mean that they are faultless," Mr Fauzan added.
The MMI, along with another hardline group, Hizbut Tahrir, and a group of lawyers representing convicted terrorists, were among participants at a seminar held in Jakarta on Dec 4. The seminar was held to clarify the hardline groups' stance on the jihad issue after mainstream Islamic organisations and leaders denounced suicide attacks held in the name of Islam.
Observers said MMI and other hardline groups wanted to distinguish themselves from terrorist cells behind the spate of attacks that have killed more than 300 people in Indonesia in the past five years.
* Hardline groups condemn Indonesia attacks (The Straits Times, Dec 6)