US designates Indonesian-based jihadist group

The US State Department officially designated the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI) jihadist group as a foreign terrorist organization yesterday. The group was formed in 2000 and has ties to al Qaeda.

State’s designation noted that MMI “has conducted attacks in Indonesia, including claiming responsibility for a May 2012 attack at the book launch of Canadian author Irshad Manji; the attack left three attendees hospitalized.” In addition, State explained that MMI was formed by Abu Bakar Bashir, a co-founder of Jemaah Islamiyya (JI), al Qaeda’s regional affiliate. Bashir left the group in 2008 and helped form another splinter group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT).

Shortly after Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s announcement of the caliphate in 2014, Bashir pledged allegiance to Baghdadi on behalf of himself and JAT. However, Bashir’s two sons and several other leaders left and formed their own group, Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah. According to the Jakarta Post, more than 50 percent of Bashir’s followers abandoned him and joined Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah. It is directly part of al Qaeda’s global network now, according to its leader. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State launches suicide assault in Indonesia’s capital.]

Mochammad Achwan, the emir of Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah, has also said that his group receives its orders from “our respected clerics in JN [Jabhat al Nusrah, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria], and we have supported the group in many ways.” State’s designation notes that MMI also supports Al Nusrah, now part of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS). Indonesians are known to hold ranks in both HTS and Baghdadi’s Islamic State.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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