According to Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), nearly 200 Islamic boarding schools have ties to terrorist networks.
On January 25, BNPT chief Boy Rafli Amar announced the discovery at a meeting with the parliament, saying the assessment was a result of the agency’s terrorism prevention efforts last year.
The data shows that there are 11 Islamic boarding schools with ties to Jamaah Ansharut Khilafah (JAK), 68 with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and 119 with links to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Islamic State-linked terrorist group.
JAD is known for many church attacks in Indonesia, including 2016 attack in Samarinda, 2018 attacks in Surabaya, and 2021 Palm Sunday attack in Makassar, resulting in dozens of deaths. JI, on the other hand, is known for 2002 Bali attacks that killed more than 200 and a number of church attacks as well.
Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the state-run University of Indonesia, said the revelation should come as no surprise and indicated terrorist networks were changing tactics.
“Instead of using terror, they are targeting religious activities to gain influence in society. They can infiltrate Islamic boarding schools easily and spread their radical ideology like a Muslim cleric delivers a sermon,” he told UCA News.
Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the National Council of Catholic Education, called the revelation “worrying,” especially for Christians who have often been the targets of extremists.
At a recent Islamic event, Vice President Ma’ruf Amin said that efforts to prevent radicalism in Indonesia cannot merely rely on the role of ulemas (Islamic councils). All elements of society, from all backgrounds, must work hand in hand to prevent the spread of radical beliefs.