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Jakarta Post

Aman Abdurrahman losing influence among IS supporters: Analyst

  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 25, 2018   /   05:50 pm
Aman Abdurrahman losing influence among IS supporters: Analyst Aman Abdurrahman (center), the alleged mastermind of the Jan. 14, 2016, terrorist attack on Jl. MH Thamrin, Central Jakarta, is seen during a court hearing at the South Jakarta District Court on Feb. 15. ( Sari)

Aman Abdurrahman, the pro-Islamic State (IS) cleric who is facing the death penalty for allegedly inspiring a string of terror attacks in the country, is reportedly losing his influence among local IS supporters after condemning the Surabaya bombings in East Java as un-Islamic.

Aman publicly denounced the suicide bombings in his defense plea at the South Jakarta District Court on Friday. But the cleric, widely seen as the most influential IS ideologue in Indonesia, had actually released an audio recording outlining his arguments against a terror attack on his website and Telegram channel, according to Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) director Sidney Jones.

The recording has reportedly angered IS supporters in Indonesia.

“The storm of criticism from [IS] followers was immediate, to the point that the administrators of [the religious movement] Millah Ibrahim removed the posting, saying no one should further disseminate the recording until they have a chance to receive an explanation directly from Aman," she said.

She added that: “Both the tape and the response suggest that Aman is losing or has lost much of his following in [IS] circles. In fact, his influence began declining as soon as he was put in an isolation cell after the January 2016 bombings, and his access to a cell phone was cut off.”

Aman has long been known as a spiritual leader of the local IS movement, particularly Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD), which has been blamed for recent terrorist attacks in West Java, East Java and Riau that killed more than 20 people.

"His writings continued to be extremely influential but the interpretation of them by ISIS supporters sometimes went beyond what he himself believed," Sidney said. 

During his trial on Friday, Aman said the suicide bombings targeting churches in Surabaya were "hideous" as the perpetrators had involved children.

"What happened in Surabaya, where a mother took her children to blow themselves up, could never be the action of a person who understands Islam and jihad." 

The church bombings were carried out by a family that included four children.

Aman’s comments have sparked a response from an IS supporter called Abu al-Gharib, who slammed the cleric and sought to justify the church bombings. (ahw)