Thu, 04 Aug 1994

Military probes Moslem secessionist group

JAKARTA (JP): The Armed Forces (ABRI) yesterday disclosed that it is currently investigating the existence of a Moslem secessionist group on the western coast of West Java.

ABRI Chief, Gen. Feisal Tanjung, made the announcement and promised that the military would crush such a movement.

"If they disrupt (pose a threat), then we'll sweep them out," Feisal told reporters before attending a cabinet meeting at the Bina Graha presidential office.

Feisal confirmed an earlier press report that 117 people in Pandeglang regency, West Java, are now being questioned for alleged ties with the outlawed Moslem secessionist group Darul Islam.

His statement is the first official reaction to the investigation of the group who is reported to be striving to establish a separate Islamic state.

Most members of the group are civil servants employed at the local offices of the ministries of religious affairs, education and culture and tourism, according to earlier press reports.

Feisal, however, refused to confirm whether or not the authorities have found evidence to back up the allegation. "We can't say anything at this point. We are still studying the case."

He added, however, that the authorities suspect the group has links with the Darul Islam/Tentara Islam Indonesia (DI/TII), a banned Moslem movement established in the late 1940s with the aim of setting up a separate Islamic state.

The group is also reported to have certain "leadership structures", but have not been found to posses arms, he said.

However, no arrests have been made so far. "They were only questioned, not detained," Feisal asssured.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Moslem nation, with 88 percent of its 186 million population professing the faith of Islam. It considers the setting up of a separate Islamic state as subversion.

Feisal said the movement is still local and therefore has not yet been brought to the attention of cabinet ministers under the charge of Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security.

A local press report said the 117 people live in Banjar, Cadasari and Cibeliung subdistricts in Pandeglang and are alleged to have established rituals such as oath taking for new members.

The group's members reportedly must pay Rp 250,000 (US$115) to finance the group's "struggle", Berita Buana said.

Motivated by dissatisfaction over the Indonesian revolutionary government's stance in a peace pact with the Dutch colonial administration, Sukarmaji Marijan Kartosuwiryo led the DI/TII armed rebellion in 1949.

The Moslem movement, which initially waged guerrilla warfare against the Dutch, spread from West Java to Central Java. It later changed course and endeavored to establish a separate state.

Similar rebellions occurred in South Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, and Aceh, and they, along with the DI/TII, were quashed by the forces of the Republic of Indonesia in 1961. (swe)