Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid


Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid

The Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) was established on 27 July 2008 by Abu Bakar Ba'asyir following his release from prison and was largely in reaction to the direction of his other organisations – Jemaah Islamiyya (JI) and Majles Mujahedin Indonesia (MMI) – had taken during his absence. JI had effectively deposed him as emir while the MMI had adopted 'secular structures' which led Ba'asyir to leave the group. Unlike JI, JAT was established as an above ground organisation with seven branches - West Java, East Java, Central Java, Banten, DKI (Jakarta), East Nusa Tenggara, and Sumatra – with a further two branches growing in Aceh and Makassar. It claims to have 3,000-5,000 members and an even larger base of sympathisers. It is open to Muslims from all backgrounds as long as they are interested in reviving sharia.

JAT has a salafi-jihadi ideology, though it considers jihad to only be possible under certain conditions and it does not consider the time to be right for jihad in Indonesia. It seeks to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia and accordingly advocates the implementation of sharia as the sole legal base of the state. It believes that a Muslim state that is not based on sharia is kafir (infidel) and that its rulers are thaghut (idolaters). Central to JAT's ideology are tawhid (belief in the unity of God) and jihad. JAT opposes democracy, liberalism, pluralism and secularism as well as socialism and communism. In line with its stance on democracy it advocated a boycott of the 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections.

Alongside its aim to establish an Islamic state, JAT seeks to revitalise the Indonesian Islamist movement. Its main activity is proselytisation or dakwah through public sermons, mass rallies, the publication and distribution of books written by Ba'asyir, the distribution of CDs of Ba'asyir's sermons, and religious study sessions. Unlike JI, however, JAT does not have affiliated schools.

In 2010 police raided JAT's Jakarta office and charged three officials including Ba'asyir with funding a terrorist training camp in Aceh. In 2012 JAT was placed on the US terrorism list as it was implicated in robberies to fund weapons purchases and attacks such as the killing of several Indonesian policemen as well as suicide bombings in Cirebon and Solo.

Since the imprisonment of Ba'asyir in 2010 JAT has been led by Muhammad Akhwan. However Ba'asyir has continued to be the main ideologue, writing books, sermons and open letters as well as issuing fatwas supporting militant jihad, providing the time and place are right. Accordingly, Ba'asyir has openly called for jihad to defend the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and for Indonesians to join the jihad in Syria. In July 2014 Ba'asyir announced his support for the Caliphate established by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in parts of Syria and Iraq. He also stated that he will be taking the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi who assumed the title of Caliph Ibrahim. At the same time he has made it clear that JAT members will not be required to follow suit but can follow their own conscience. 'Clarification by JAT pertaining to the declaration of the Caliphate', 11 July 2014, [Accessed: 21 July 2014]  For more on JAT, see International Crisis Group, 'The Dark Side of Jama'ah Anshorut Tauhid', Asia Briefing No 107, 6 July 2010.

Dr Kirsten E. Schulze, Associate Professor of International History, London School of Economics