U.S. Labels Indonesian Muslim Group Terrorist Organization
According to wire service reports, officials from both countries have traveled to nations in southeast Asia, discussing the situation and urging support for the U.N. move. Late Wednesday, a Japanese foreign ministry official told the Associated Press his nation would endorse the declaration.
U.S. officials said a coalition of nations, including Indonesia, would join the effort to designate Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, as a terrorist group, thus requiring U.N. member states to suspend any funds for the organization, prevent sales of weapons to the group and stop its members from traveling through the countries.
“[T]he United States will join Australia, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Timor Leste [East Timor], and other partners around the world to ask the relevant United Nations sanctions committee to include JI on its consolidated list of individuals and entities the assets of which member states are required to freeze,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a statement Wednesday.
The international effort comes as the U.S. State Department officially added Jemaah Islamiyah to its list of terrorist groups on Wednesday. The decision makes it a crime to contribute funds to the group and bars members from entering the United States.
Powell added he hoped simultaneous U.S. and U.N. action would cripple the group.
“Today’s actions mark the first time the United States has simultaneously designated a terrorist group as an FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organization]… and requested the relevant UN sanctions committee to include it on the list of those against which sanctions should be applied. We hope these steps put Jemaah Islamiya out of the terrorism business,” Powell said.
Jemaah Islamiya has been linked to several bombings throughout Indonesia. The group’s spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, was arrested last week in Indonesia. Authorities there suspect his involvement in a church bombing two years ago that killed 19 people.
The organization is also at the center of the investigation into the devastating bomb attack that killed nearly 200 on the resort island of Bali earlier this month.
Powell said Wednesday’s decisions had nothing to do with the Bali attack and instead stemmed from earlier actions.
“The United States does not wish to imply that we have come to a conclusion about responsibility for the devastating Bali bombings on October 12. Investigation into those bombings continues in Indonesia,” Powell said. “Today’s designation of this group by the United States and the referral to the United Nations are the result of a process that has been underway since well before the Bali bombings.”