The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia: From Darul Islam to Jema’ah Islamiyah shows with rare clarity that Indonesia’s current terrorist problems have a long and complex history. Based on a remarkable array of sources, many of which have never been publicly cited, Solahudin’s account fills in many gaps in our knowledge of jihadist groups, how they interacted with the state and events abroad, and why they at times resorted to extreme violence, such as the 2002 Bali bombings. Dave McRae’s translation offers a complete account of the development of jihadism from the earliest years of Indonesian independence to the terrorist bombings of the past decade, for an English-speaking audience.
The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia is the first work to provide a comprehensive account of jihadism from the early years of the Darul Islam rebellion till the Jema’ah Islamiyah terrorist bombings in the early 2000s. The historical description of these jihadist movements is rich in detail, particularly regarding Suharto’s New Order (1966–98). This is a difficult period for which to piece together a reliable narrative. Not only did the regime often engage in deliberate misinformation, but the jihadists themselves operated covertly and relatively few have been willing to speak candidly about their activities and motivations. Little was written down in jihadist circles, for fear of detection by the security services, so primary source documents are scarce. Moreover, a good deal of the available written and oral data is contradictory, perhaps because those producing the information have failing memories or an incomplete grasp of what was happening, or because they sought deliberately to mislead in order to justify their own actions or discredit others.
Solahudin’s account of the 1970s to the early 1990s illuminates a critical period in the development of Indonesian jihadism, revealing how key individuals and groups changed their thinking, strategies and organisational forms in response to increasingly heavy state repression and ideological stimulus from abroad. He looks closely at the revival of Darul Islam in the early 1970s, examines the role played by both the Siliwangi Division and BAKIN in co-opting and mmobilizing Darul Islam members, and maps the deepening divisions between senior Darul Islam leaders throughout the 1970s and 1980s.