In the past decade, terrorism in Indonesia has evolved significantly. After the fall of ISIS in the Middle East, the focus of global terrorism has shifted to Asia, including Indonesia. The threat of terrorism in Indonesia remains high due to various factors, including the return of foreign terrorist fighters, radicalization in prisons, and the emergence of new terrorist groups or the reactivation of old terrorist networks.

Jemaah Islamiyah, is an extremist organization advocating for the establishment of a caliphate affiliated with a global terrorist network, AL Qaeda. Its followers continuously promote this ideology without understanding the true meaning, essence, and purpose of Sharia law by the Almighty. They continue to maneuver in various aspects of life, including politics, religion, and social affairs. 

The presence of Jemaah Islamiyah has actually been banned in Indonesia since 2007-2008, after they were deemed responsible for a series of bombing in the country. These include the Christmas bombings in 2000, Bali bombings in 2002, JW Marriott bombing in 2003, bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004, and bombings at JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton in 2009. 

However, despite being banned, the organization still exists because its sympathizers, supporters, and leaders are still around, and their ideology has never disappeared. They just change their names, but the struggle remains the same. Among the names they use are Khilafatul Muslimin and neo-JI or New JI. 

In 2019, there was the arrest of Para Wijayanto in Bekasi, who had been a fugitive since 2008. According to the police, Para Wijayanto was the leader of New Jemaah Islamiyah referred to as Neo – JI. In 2021, the Indonesian National Police’s Special Anti-Terrorism Detachment (Densus 88) arrested Farid Okbah, known as the founder of the Indonesian People’s Da’wah Party (PDRI) and a member of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Bekasi.

In the same year, Densus 88 also arrested Ahmad Zain An Najah, who served as a member of the Fatwa Commission at the MUI Headquarters. According to the police, Ahmad Zain also held positions in the Syuor Council of Neo-JI and the Sharia Council at Laz BM ABA. Ahmad Zain’s arrest was questioned by the MUI because he was known to be the Chairman of Muhammadiyah’s branch in Egypts and was considered very moderate. 

Then in 2022, Densus 88 arrested a Party of the Ummah cadre named Rahmat Hidayat in Bengkulu. Rahmat was registered as a member of the Fatwa Commission at MUI Bengkulu, along with two of his associates with initials TO and M. It is found out that Para Wijayanto emphasizes the need for a concept battle to win what they call the caliphate battle. This is where the strategy emerges to infiltrate and engage in politics which was quite surprising at first because terrorist organizations prohibit the democratic Government system. 

Since then, JI’s relationship with political parties in Indonesia has become a serious concern for the government. Ahead of the 2024 General Elections, the General Election Commission (KPU) added a requirement that participating parties must not have ideologies against Pancasila or the official foundational philosophical theory of Indonesia.

The Indonesian People’s Da’wah Party (PDRI) was one of the candidate participants in the elections. This party, which did not pass the verification, was suspected to be infiltrated by Jemaah Islamiyah. The Taqiyya strategy has been used by these group members to achieve its goal of establishing an Islamic State. Large public institutions like the MUI have been infiltrated by members of their group, occupying key positions in the fatwa commission, which plays a crucial role in making religious decisions. 

JI’s involvement in political parties and religious organizations can be detected and prevented. Individuals involved in MUI leadership have been prosecuted. JI’s maneuvering with taqiyya strategy can infiltrate various fields, including politics, charities, and professional organizations, as part of their ongoing struggle.

Jemaah Islamiyah actually prohibits democracy but appears to accept it, claiming it’s an emergency situation and they must continue their struggle to control the existing government system to achieve their goals. The radical global terrorism Al Qaeda and ISIS formed JI and JAD as their affiliates in Indonesia, respectively. JI promotes Salafi-Jihadi ideology, while JAD promotes takfiri ideology.  

The National Counterterrorism Agency reported that there were no terrorist attacks throughout 2023, which  is good news for security in Indonesia. However, their underground movements remain active, especially in recruitment, fundraising, and paramilitary training. JI recruits sympathizers, supporters, and militants, targeting all layers of society, including children, teenagers, adults, and even women, through both offline and online recruitment methods.

They raise funds through charity boxes, distributed extensively, especially in shopping centers, under the pretext of donations for orphanages and alms. In Jakarta and Lampung, the newly-formed Khilafatul Muslimin collects funds through charity boxes and Islamic financial institutions. They manage to collect tens of millions per-month to buy weapons and finance jihadists destined for Syria, which they consider as a “dar al-Harb” (land of war), while the actual conflict is political and internal within that country. 

They conduct paramilitary training covertly in mountains or forests, using institutions similar to religious schools or claiming to be Islamic boarding schools. They misuse the term “boarding school” as a typical Indonesian religious educational institution. These schools only train in horseback riding, swimming, and archery, interpreting religious texts literally, while these texts encourage exercise beyond these three sports. 

These phenomena can be observed in religious educational institutions that are not registered with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, operating closed supervision and rejecting government assistance, using their own curriculum that does not include national insight education. These educational institutions conduct horseback riding, swimming and archery training to prepare for jihad to establish an Islamic State with a caliphate ideology that has no normative basis in religious texts and literature. They base their actions on interpretations they consider to be from scholars as the basis and command to establish an Islamic State.

JI’s institutional existence may change names, but its struggle remains present with different faces, names and strategies. The entire government and all layers of society must remain vigilant by detecting early and mitigating the presence of JI networks and figures. The government monitors JI’s movements holistically, both offline and online, such as spreading ideology, recruiting and fundraising.

Moreover, they can act as lone wolves, appearing as isolated wolves without a pack or network. This strategy is to cover their tracks and to emphasize that, besides the network’s name and organizations, the main thing is to continue the struggle to enforce islamic law with the caliphate ideology in Indonesia, and this makes JI considered as a long-term threat in Indonesia.  

They raise funds through charity boxes, distributed extensively, especially in shopping centers, under the pretext of donations for orphanages and alms. In Jakarta and Lampung, the newly-formed Khilafatul Muslimin collects funds through charity boxes and Islamic financial institutions. They manage to collect tens of millions per-month to buy weapons and finance jihadists destined for Syria, which they consider as a “dar al-Harb” (land of war), while the actual conflict is political and internal within that country.