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Indonesian radicals call for blood

By Amy Chew
Special to CNN

Indonesia's 250,000-strong police force is on high alert.
Indonesia's 250,000-strong police force is on high alert.

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A CNN Special Report by Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa 
War against terror: Southeast Asia front 

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Muslim radicals in Indonesia called for America's blood as security forces brace for a backlash in the world's largest Muslim country in response to the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Calling America "kafir harbi", an unbeliever who must be fought, a grouping of radical Muslims called upon its followers to rise up to oppose the war.

"America is a kafir harbi and that means its blood and property is halal (permitted)," Mudzakir, coordinator of Surakarta Muslims, told CNN, by telephone from Surakarta.

"We reject this war on Iraq," Mudzakir added.

Surakarta, on the main Indonesian island of Java, is home to several radical groups and individuals. Among them is Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, the alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a regional terrorist group Washington has accused of having links with al Qaeda.

Ba'asyir is currently in police detention as prosecutors prepare treason charges against him for plotting to overthrow the government. Mudzakir is a staunch supporter of Ba'asyir.

JI aims to carve out a super Islamic state linking southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and southern Philippines. More than 100 JI members have been detained by authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines for allegedly planning attacks against American targets across the region.

In Jakarta, over 1,000 people from the Muslim-oriented Justice Party staged a peaceful demonstration outside the U.S. embassy. Justice Party's chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid urged U.S. President George W. Bush to stop the attacks, saying Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks on America.

"I knock on the door of his conscience to stop this attack on innocent civilians," said Nur Wahid.

In Jakarta, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) said they were considering sending their members to "fight" against the U.S. in Iraq.

"It is our duty to fight this attack with all our might," FPI secretary-general, Ahmad Shabri Lubis, told CNN.

Asked whether they were going to take up arms, he replied: "Yes, that's possible. We may fight in Iraq or in Indonesia," said Lubis.

Indonesian police has put its entire 250,000-strong force on full alert and tightened security round the U.S., British, Australian and other foreign embassies in the country. (Full story)

'Plans in place'

Laskar Jihad, famed for waging a holy war against Christians on the eastern Maluku islands, urged all Muslims to pressure the government to break-off ties with the U.S government.

"I condemn the attack on Iraq and urged Indonesians to pressure the government to break-off ties with the U.S. government," Laskar Jihad's commander Jaffar Umar Thalib, told CNN.

An intelligence source told CNN radical groups declared a month ago that they would move the masses to pressure the government to break-off ties with America. If their call was ignored, the goverment must be toppled.

"That means they already have put in place plans for agitation," said the intelligence source.

Laskar Jihad disbanded itself shortly after the Bali blast which killed more than 200 people on October 12 last year. The group has been blamed for deepening the Maluku conflict which killed more than 10,000 people.

No guarantees

Asked whether Laskar Jihad was going to revive its armed wing, Thalib said: "No. We have already disbanded. These days I am into education and have set up a religious boarding school in Yogyakarta".

While Laskar Jihad has gained a high profile and notoriety, the group which raises the most concern is the shadowy network responsible for the Bali blast.

"This is the group which we must most keep an eye on. We have to be alert to what cannot be seen on the surface and in the public," a military intelligence source told CNN.

The country's largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) which claims 40 million followers, warned there was no guarantee the predominant and moderate religious leaders were able to fully control their followers.

"People see this as a war against humanity and they would use this to justify their radicalism. I am not sure this time I can say for certain I can calm the masses like in previous occassion," said NU's chairman, Hasyim Muzadi, a leading moderate Muslim leader.

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