Institute for Policy Analysis for Conflict Report no. 36, 27 April 2017.
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The report looks at the decline of JI after 2007 and the quiet rebuilding that has taken place since 2010 under the leadership of Para Wijayanto, a long-time JI member from Kudus who placed more emphasis on dakwah than jihad. The military wing was headed until late 2015 by Khairul Anam, better known as Ustadz Batar, a veteran of the Ambon conflict, who called up long inactive members, including those trained in Mindanao, to head various subunits. He also supervised a program to both amass and produce weapons. His capture and other arrests have halted the military program, at least temporarily.
JI maintains that all members must be prepared for an eventual military showdown with the enemy as they strive to build an Islamic state, even if at the moment, there is no rationale for the use of violence. In the Syrian conflict, JI positioned itself against ISIS and in support of what used to be known as the al-Nusra Front and sent some of its members to Syria for short-term training – again in the interests of preparation (i’dad) for some future confrontation.
“JI’s strengths are its historical legacy, its family networks and loyalist core, and its long-term vision that give it a resilience that no other extremist organization has,” says Jones. “That said, it’s hard to be a jihadist organisation without an active jihad.”