Explaining Islamic Insurgencies: The Case of al-Jamaah Al Islamiyyah and Its Radicalization of the Poso Conflict, 2000-2007

Explaining Islamic Insurgencies: The Case of al-Jamaah Al Islamiyyah and Its Radicalization of the Poso Conflict, 2000-2007

Why do some aggrieved individuals, and not all of them from the same community, become terrorists, even when the whole group (sui generis) is ostensibly affected by a matrix of issues that affect them all as an entity ?

It is a question of how the fringe is  marginalized, in this case, "radicalized" into the further outlier.  More importantly, once "radicalized," can they be ever "saved", or, "stopped," from further violence; especially if they have passed that point of no return, and started to weaponize their ideologies, even their very lives as potential suicide bombers ?

The above is a small sample of the questions, which started off as an academic puzzle, that General Tito bravely, and scientifically, tried to answer.

Thus, altogether there are three sets of independent variable and dependent variable; and justifiably three hypothesis to counter-verify one versus the other.

Among them: Are personal disaffection more powerful as an explanation, as opposed to an enabling group, or, would radicalization be more uncontrollable when there is a legitimizing ideology ?

Before going into how General Tito resolved, indeed tried to explain, the conundrum of terrorism-----which is basically the violence of the few, invariably, against  the diametrically opposed opinion of the whole-----one must ask whether this book has succeeded in locating it within the larger literature of strategic studies ? It did.

This is precisely because with three hypothesis at work, General Tito left no room for any other interpretation: counter terrorism and de-radicalization are indeed the of strategic studies in Southeast Asia, if the region wants to avoid to be the "Second Front" of a post 9-11 world.

Terrorism, as General Tito affirmed, is often seen through the optic of insurgency, war against terror, violent extremism, even low intensity conflict between the state and the sub state actors.

It is also a subject that is widely covered in the West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, but not Southeast Asia per se.

The latter is now more vital than ever, as the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US Department of Defense has been imposed on the rest of the region on May  31.

And, China's mistreatment of the Uyghur Muslims, whom China calls "radicals" are a part of this narrative that Beijing has propped itself up as a revisionist state.

Yet, Poso, in Sulawesi, Indonesia is the focus of General Tito's book derived from his PhD thesis at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore.

Rather than trying to understand Islamic insurgencies from across the world, as many scholars do, General Tito provides a specific yet intimate backdrop, as to why a minority of Muslims can be radicalized against a majority of their own and Christians too; even after a peace agreement had been achieved ?

Answering the above may seem simple on surface. Since it involves an investigation into the aberrant/abhorrent behavior of the radical groups such as Jemaah Islamiyyah and their networks.

But General Tito, true to style, invariably, as a commanding police scholar, sought to understand radicalization, in terms of the message conveyed, the gullibility of the recepient, their pathways of communication, and finally their radicalized behavior.

With three hypothesis to prove, it is a testament to the elegance of the scholarship, that the book did not exceed 500 pages. It was less than 300 pages.

But this book is a must read, as it was not dominated by the obsession with All Qaeda or even Jemaah Islamiyyah per se, the latter being the subject of investigation, but how Islamic insurgencies can be understood as a "journey" or "military voyeurism" of the radicalized groups. This book is impressive in terms of its scope and scientific rigor, and should be the must-read of every anti terrorist expert and agent.

Placed in the right hand of the university or "Pesantren" students, the book can also make them more conscious of how easily they can be (badly) influenced by the discourse of jihadism.

Lacking the means to go to war with China, or twist the arm of Beijing, Tun Razak had no choice but to agree to Chairman's Mao assertion that "party and party" should be set aside, while "government to government" relationship could take precedence too.