Ahmad Zain An-Najah, a member of the Indonesian Ulema Council, appears on the Sahabat Yamima YouTube channel in November 2017. (Videography)

MUI Member Suspended over Terror Charges

BY :MIKAEL NIMAN, BAYU MARHAENJATI

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

Jakarta. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has suspended a member who was recently arrested by the counter-terrorism squad Detachment 88 for alleged involvement in the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Ahmad Zain An-Najah, who the council confirmed as a member of its Fatwa Division, was arrested at his home in Bekasi on Tuesday along with two other suspects.

“His alleged involvement in a terrorist network is a matter of personal responsibility that has nothing to do with the MUI,” the council said in a statement on Thursday.

It calls for law enforcement agencies to handle the case professionally and presume the suspect innocent until proven guilty.

“The MUI is committed to supporting the rule of law against violent acts of terrorism in accordance with the 2004 MUI Fatwa on terrorism,” according to the statement signed by MUI Chairman Miftachul Akhyar and Secretary-General Amirsyah Tambunan.

Police alleged that Ahmad Zain is part of the Shura [Advisory] Council of Jemaah Islamiyah, which aspires to establish a caliphate in the Southeast Asia region.

The group is responsible for many major attacks in Indonesia in the 2000s, including the October 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people.

While Jemaah Islamiyah attacks have been almost unheard of in recent years, police believe their cells remain active and that the group operates under the disguise of humanitarian organizations to raise funds.

Ahmad Zain leads an Islamic foundation that has distributed hundreds of donation boxes across the province of Lampung.

National Police spokesman Brigadier Gen. Rusdi Hartono said on Thursday the Detachment 88 has enough evidence to charge Ahmad Zain with terrorism and they won’t search the MUI office for more evidence.

“We focus on his role in raising funds for Jemaah Islamiyah,” he said.

The group also collected money from its members, who are obliged to spare 2.5 percent of their income for the organization, Rusdi added.

Former militant and now-anti-radicalism advocate Ken Setiawan urged the government to deal with the growing terrorist cells that are already deeply rooted within every formal institution. 

According to Ken, it all starts with radical and intolerant minds infiltrating these formal institutions. But if left untreated, they may form groups and grow larger in number. Addressing this root cause is what the government should focus on.

“Intolerant and radical groups have infiltrated these formal institutions, the military, police, MUI, and every other institution. Once they take a step closer into jihad, they will become terrorists,” Ken said.

“The government so far has been lenient on these radical and intolerant groups. They only ban communism. Radical organizations are thriving, but the government does not take action,” added Ken, who is also the founder of anti-radicalism rehab center Negara Islam Indonesia (NII) Crisis Center.

Intolerant and radical groups may be few in number, but they often make a scene. 

“There are only a few, but they always make noise 24 hours [non-stop]. The majority group is more silent. It is most dangerous if the people think they are safe, but these groups have their respective duties to infiltrate all community institutions,” he said.

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