Soft-spoken militant has steely view of the future

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2007, 12:00am

Muslims will rule the world, says alleged JI commander

Tucked away in a corner of the Indonesian police's elite Mobile Brigade headquarters is an inconspicuous, single-storey building.

It holds militant Abu Dujana, the reputed military commander of Jemaah Islamiah, the al-Qaeda-linked regional terror group behind a string of attacks in the country, including the devastating 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202.

Authorities said the case against him was clear cut.

But a meeting with Dujana in his prison cell 40km outside Jakarta is anything but - it reveals a mass of contradictions.

On the one hand, Dujana says he regrets civilian deaths in Indonesia's worst terrorist attacks; on the other, he says innocent Muslims should not have been near the places when they were attacked in the first place.

He disavows the label of military commander, yet he acknowledges his role in training Islamic militants and says that one day Muslims will rule the world.

Dujana's cell does not look like a prison. It is a spacious suite, with a queen-sized bed, set of sofas and air-conditioning.

Dressed in Muslim garb, Dujana sits upright and composed.

'Good afternoon, teacher. How are you?' a police officer-guard greets him respectfully.

'I am fine, thank you,' he replies, so softly that it is only by straining that his words can be picked up.

'First of all, let me say that I am not a military commander, that is just the language which the police used ... But yes, I did train some people in military warfare,' Dujana says as the interview begins.

According to anti-terror police, Dujana underwent military training in Pakistan and Afghanistan from 1989-1992.

Upon completing his training, he became an instructor at JI's military training camp in Turkhom, Afghanistan.

Dujana's formidable reputation is at odds with his slight stature and youthful face - he looks years younger than 37.

During the 30-minute interview, he bows his head while answering a question - then stares straight at me when he finishes speaking, an unreadable expression on his face.

His direct stare makes me jump hastily to the next question.

Has JI been weakened by his arrest, along with that of Zarkasih, who headed the group?

'Well, why don't you release me first and then I will go look for it and let you know,' he says, breaking the tension with a burst of laughter.

The subject then turns to Dujana's friendship with notorious Malaysian militant Noordin Mohamed Top. Noordin is accused of masterminding some of Indonesia's worst terror attacks - the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, the 2003 J.W. Marriott blast and 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy.

'I first met Noordin in Luqmanul Hakim in Johor in 1996. I last saw him just before the first Bali bombings in 2002. I don't know where he is now,' he says.

Does Dujana agree with Noordin's tactics? Does he condone the deaths of civilians?

Dujana answers with a smile. 'I regret if there were innocent civilians who were victims,' he says.

'If casualties could not be avoided, let it be left to Allah because it is there in Islam, in fiqh [Islamic law], why was the person [victim] at the place even though he is Muslim?

'I believe, according to my instincts, what Noordin did was for the cause of jihad, to revive the glory of Islam because many countries right now are tearing apart Islamic countries and Muslims. If he acted for that cause, then I agree.

'But that doesn't mean he [Noordin] can act at will.

'If it were me, if I had doubts [about civilian deaths], I would not have carried it out.'

Why does Noordin carry out attacks in Indonesia and not in Malaysia, his home country?

Again, the question is greeted with a smile.

'The territory for jihad can be anywhere. If he carries out jihad here, it's maybe because he has friends who can help him. Over there, he has difficulties.'

Can we expect more bombings?

'Maybe. I cannot say for sure.'

Dujana's commitment to his beliefs, and that of so many other JI members, is the glue that holds the movement together.

It is this same faith that makes him believe that Muslims will one day rise to power across the globe. 'It is a question of time before we rule the world. For us Muslims, we believe that there is life after death. This is what makes us fight with all our might,' he says.

'The American military cannot be like us.'

Dujana is also certain that when Muslims rule the world, non-Muslims will be treated with justice.

'The Christians in Palestine during the [12th century] rule of Sultan Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi said: 'We have never experienced the peace and justice we are experiencing now.' Non-Muslims will be treated well and fairly - as long as they don't make enemies of us,' he smiles.