http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/co ... 03,00.html
School that nurtured the Islamic call to arms
Radicalism is popular among the poor, writes Simon Kearney
October 10, 2005
IT is just on dusk at the Al-Islam boarding school, or pesantren, and the place is bustling. Earlier in the day, it might as well have been deserted, but with the call to evening prayers, the students have emerged, eager to break their Ramadan fast and chatter among themselves.
The Islamic school in Tenggulun has some of the most notorious alumni in the world, having been a place of learning, preaching and refuge to many of the key protagonists in the October 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people.
Today, it has 150 students from all over the far-reaching archipelago and, according to its founder Muhammed Khozin, he teaches his students to do with words what his brothers chose to do with bombs.
The students The Australian met there yesterday quizzed this reporter about his religious beliefs and debated the issue of whether the holy trinity in Christianity was false. They muttered among themselves about whether I was really a reporter or an Australian intelligence agent.
They are used to being treated with suspicion by the media and receiving visits from police. But after a while, they relax and behave largely like high school students anywhere.
Welcome to the breeding ground of radical Islam in Indonesia. It started with Jemaah Islamiah spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir's Ngruki school in Solo, Central Java, and has spread into other pesantren across the country.
The schools are popular with poor families for their discipline and thorough religious curriculums. For the price of a cheap meal out in Australia, a family can send their son to this pesantren for a year. A boy from the island of Flores told The Australian his tuition cost 300,000 rupiah, about $40.
For poor villagers, some of whom live on subsistence rice farming and have annual earnings of just a few hundred dollars, it gives them the opportunity for their children to aspire to a better life, Airlangga University of Surabaya Associate Professor of Indonesian Culture, Kacung Marijan, said.
Al-Islam is on the outskirts of the village of Tenggulun, a two-hour drive west of Surabaya in East Java.
Khozin, as well as being one of the school's founders, is the brother of three of the 2002 Bali bombers, Ali Gufron, known as Mukhlas, Amrozi and Ali Imron, who all attended and taught at the school.
As head of one of Indonesia's most notorious families, he is keen to distance his community from the second Bali bombings, which he says are "different" to the first. His brand of Islam, he says, is different. He says the community has moved on and does not want to be linked to the new "tragedy".
But to Khozin, there is no difference in his ideology and his brothers'. The difference is in how they chose to act on their anger at Westerners flaunting their liberal values. He refers to the non-Muslim community as Kaffir Dhimmi, the name the prophet Mohammed gave to the non-Muslim communities. He says it is the responsibility of Muslims to fight this group by convincing them to behave with respect towards their Muslim neighbours.
He says the fight should not be "physical" but a fight with words.
Khozin does not believe that Westerners and Muslims can live side by side while Westerners continue to believe, for example, in allowing women to wear bikinis at the beach and to drink alcohol.
It is a "morality war" brought on by Australians and Westerners in general refusing to respect his culture.
He said his school "prepares the student to make sure foreigners do not do that in Indonesia". You only have to talk to his son, 19-year-old Afif, to know that the young people coming through the Islamic schooling system take that message to heart and maybe even beyond.
He says Bali will not be safe from terrorism until Australians and other Westerners visiting there behave in a way that is respectful of Muslim culture. Ask Afif what he wants to do when he grows up, the answer is simple: "Fight for Islam."
This is probably best interpreted as youthful spirit and not a declaration of jihad but his commitment is to ending what he sees as a Western corruption of his country. It shows that with such a hardline philosophy on what is and what is not acceptable, it is a fine line between fighting with words and fighting with bombs.
While Afif's uncles, Mukhlas -- the commander of the 2002 bombings -- and Amrozi, who played a key role procuring most of the equipment they needed, are facing the death penalty, he doesn't view what they did as wrong because they scared away many Westerners. He considers the Muslims who died as martyrs; he says the Westerners who died are not his concern because they were unbelievers.
Khozin said his brothers, Mukhlas and Amrozi, did not fear the death penalty and were not interested in an amnesty. He said the eldest of the three, Mukhlas, or Ali Gufron, remained devoted to JI's Bashir. "Gufron wants to become the next Bashir," Mr Khozin said.
Police investigating the latest tragedy have not visited Khozin. "If they want to come here, that's OK, we have nothing to hide," he said.