February 29, 2008


Nasir Abas, terrorist defector, aids Indonesian police (Seth Mydans, February 29, 2008, IHT)

Once a high-ranking commander in the region's deadliest terrorist group, Abas, 38, has been born again as an antiterror evangelist. Working with the police, he visits his former comrades in jail in an effort to persuade them to cooperate and to mend their ways.

He appears at public forums and he has published a book called "Exposing Jemaah Islamiyah," the terrorist group he once belonged to, which is linked to Al Qaeda and has been behind most of the major attacks in the region in recent years.

His conversion is a boon to the police, who have taken what Indonesia's counterterrorism chief, Asyaad Mbai, calls a "soft, humane approach" to detainees, treating them as wayward brothers rather than as criminals. They are given special privileges in prison and in some cases their families receive financial support.

"It has the dual function of tainting some who accept and also winning members to a cooperative stance, so the police get more intelligence than before," said Sidney Jones, a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group and an expert on terrorism.

As part of this approach, Abas said he tries to persuade detainees that their view of holy war is misguided, that the police are not evil and that cooperating with them is not a sin.

"I explain to them that it is wrong killing people with bombs," Abas said. "This is not jihad in Islam. You are killing unarmed civilians. It is a shameful thing."

Even the Realists are finally figuring out what W has been up to with India, but it'll still be years before they figure out the centrality of Indonesia to the Axis of Good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 29, 2008 9:00 AM

It's troubling that they have to have it explained to them that killing innocents with bombs is wrong.

Posted by: Bartman at March 1, 2008 9:05 AM