The jihad of the Surabaya suicide terrorist family began in school
by Mathias Hariyadi

Ahmad Faiz Zainuddin talks about his school friend, Dita Oeprianto, the man who led his family to carry out multiple bombings. Together with his family, he organised suicide attacks against three Christian churches. Before the attacks, the family prayed together with the local Islamic community. "Bullets can kill terrorists, but only a good education can erase their radical thoughts,” Zainuddin writes. To “my beloved Christian brothers & sisters”, he offers his condolences.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "I am sad and worried, but what happened yesterday does not surprise me. It is the harvest of the first seeds of extremism, planted decades ago," writes Ahmad Faiz Zainuddin, a high school friend of Dita Oeprianto, the head of the family responsible for the suicide attacks that struck three Christian churches in Surabaya, the capital of the province of East Java, yesterday morning.

Dita Oeprianto’s radicalisation began at Sman 5, the state school in Surabaya where he graduated in 1991, four years before Zainuddin. "After 25 years, what I feared in the school days has happened,” the latter wrote in a message posted online.

Like any good young Muslim, Zainuddin used to meet with his peers for regular prayer meetings. However, in one seminar, he was surprised and shocked by some "brainwashing practices" exercised by older students on younger students. These were encouraged to set up a movement to establish the Islamic State of Indonesia.

"We were told a lot of money was needed to promote this idea and that stealing was morally right only for one cause: the Islamic State of Indonesia,” Zainuddin writes. “We were told to steal our parents' money and give them the funds. My mentor even said that he was a holy warrior, not a student."

At that time, the monthly Sabilli was very popular among students. In order to stir them, it wrote about how the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina were being ‘massacred’ by the Christian Serbs. Zainuddin adds that "some of them left for the Balkans to become guerrillas."

However, because of the various radical Islamic teachings he read and studied, one of the kids worried him in a particular way. "He was my senior, the now late Dita. In the following years, he became the head of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a terrorist group linked to the Islamic state in Surabaya."

"It does not surprise me what Dita did what he did: blow himself up along with his family for the jihad. He thought this was the best way to implement a great jihad. This kind of radicalism developed very well in his mind and heart 30 years ago," Zainuddin explains.

Speaking about Dita also reminded him of another student, who refused to attend the flag-raising ceremony at school. "He thought that greeting the Indonesian flag during the ceremony was illegal and that even singing the national anthem was wrong. The government was for him 'thoghut', idolatrous, and a tyrant".

The school did not take such thoughts seriously because at the time there were no bomb attacks. However, Zainuddin goes on to write that "These extremist thoughts made headway in the minds and hearts of some students, who were not touched by the words and advice of educators".

What is more, radicalisation was not happening only in his high school, but also in "different schools of Surabaya".

Yesterday's multiple attacks makes Zainuddin "certain that extremism and radicalism, along with terrorist actions, are clear and looming".

"These acts of violence happened in our neighbourhood and they are real. What saddens me is the fact that the family bid farewell and prayed with other Muslims at a local mosque. They embraced them, before going on their way to blow themselves up at the predetermined place."

"Bullets can kill terrorists, but only a good education can erase their radical thoughts,” Zainuddin concludes. “Be safe. Be optimistic. Spread love and compassion.”

“And for my beloved Christian brothers & sisters. My deep condolence for all of you. From the bottom of my heart, I am really sorry.”