Sydney – With the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) hard hit by a wave of arrests and prosecutions since the 2002 Bali bombings, many extremists are now turning to other groups within Indonesia, said a report issued by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
"JI is becoming less of a lethal threat. The threat is now in other kinds of networks that the bombers have moved to," the Associated Press quoted Indonesiaexpert Greg Fealy, a co-author of the report, as saying.
These include groups "who have been closely involved in the Muslim-Christian conflicts in places like Maluku and Central Sulawesi", said Mr Fealy, who is from the Australian National University.
He said the migration of terrorists to new groups would pose a fresh challenge to security forces. "They have to be open to the possibility that people they've never heard of before can, in a very short space of time, be recruited to an operation and become the foot soldiers in a major terrorism attack," he said.
Mr Fealy also said that a split appears to be emerging in Jemaah Islamiah between those seeking a Southeast Asian Islamic state by violent means and those looking for a more gradual transition.
If the advocates of a gradual approach win the power struggle, they would likely push for an Islamic state using preaching, education and military training to defend against attacks from what they consider infidel forces, Mr Fealy said.
"However, there is a risk here. Once you give people military training in how to make bombs and do assassinations, they may not be patient enough to wait for the realisation of your 30-year plan," he said.
"They may want to go out and do something next month. They may well be very angry and alienated people."
Although the weakened and divided JI may be less of a threat today, it is still capable of attacks, said the Institute's Aldo Borgu, the report's other writer. "There is still a possibility that one might be in the offing some time soon."
* Jemaah Islamiah less of a threat but still capable of attacks: Analyst (The Jakarta Post)