09/04/2012, 00.00
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Baassyir's Islamic school in Solo continues to train new terrorists

by Mathias Hariyadi
Followers of the Bali bombing mastermind killed three policemen in Solo in the past few weeks. They also placed a car bomb at an Islamic festival. Leaders from the moderate Muslim organisation Nahdlatul Ulama accuse Islamic boarding schools of brainwashing youth to turn them into terrorists, killers and harbingers of a false Islam.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A pesantren or Islamic boarding school in Ngrugki, Sukoharjo Regency (Solo), founded by Abu Bakar Baassyir, a Muslim leader purging a 15-year sentence for masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings, continues to train young terrorists. It is also thought to have links with extremist cells in France and other European countries.

The information comes from reports by Indonesia's anti-terrorism police. Twice in recent days, pesantren students attacked its members in Ngrugki, killing two. An attack on 19 August in the city of Solo marking Idul Fitri was also the work of students from the Islamic boarding school.

Anti-terrorism Inspector General Ansyan Mbai confirmed that the school founded by Baassyir is closely linked to the French Muslims terrorist group to which Mohamed Merah, author of the Toulouse massacre, belonged.

The pesantren in Ngrugki is a revolving door between European and Asian Muslim extremists. For months, it harboured Jean Salvi, a French Muslim extremist wanted by French authorities. In the past, he had been associated with Baassyir and other Muslim leaders from Pakistan, Indonesia and Afghanistan.

Hundreds of pesantren dot Indonesia's landscape. Originally from the Javanese, the name refers to Muslim schools that offer room and board.

In the country's poorest areas, it is often the only place for boys to get some learning. And they often funded by big Muslim organisations.

Until a few years ago, most were run by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's largest moderate Islamic organisation. That ensured the quality of the teaching.

Since the early 2000, radical Muslim groups opened their own boarding schools, recruiting among the poorest and most illiterate students.

For NU leader Kiai Hajj Aqil Siradj, schools connected to extremist leaders are a real danger for Islam, especially for the way they might influence non-Muslims' attitude towards the religion.

At such places, young students undergo a virtual brainwashing process, which leads them to carry out terrorist acts in the name of a "false Islam."

"What is taught in these schools is not the real Islam," he explains. "Such places exist only to create terrorists."

What is more, students' views about religion shape those of their families. In some cases, families take pride in the fact that their sons took their own lives in attacks "defending" the true values of the Qur'an.

Recently, Canni Assidiqie, father of Muschsin Canni Permadi, a young student from Ngrugki who was killed in a shootout with police, told the press that his son died a martyr's death and that he was proud of him.

For Siradj, "a terrorist is not a sacred hero, but a loser."

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