Two days before Thalib
was acquitted, a Christian leader, Dr Alex Manuputty was sentenced to three years' jail for "promoting separatism".
own acquittal, Thalib
said of Manuputty's sentence: "I question why you would sentence him to only three years on charges of subversion while the charge itself carries a minimum sentence of 15 years.
It has been suggested that this had happened because Jafar Umar Thalib
, who had been arrested in April 2002 for a speech made at Ambon mosque, in which he
threatened not only Christians, but the government, was awaiting his
This individual, Jafar Umar Thalib
(pictured), had sent his
Laskar Jihad militias to Poso
in August 2001, significantly increasing the conflict's casualties.
had also been responsible for much of the violence of the Moluccan War, which took the lives of 9,000 people and will be described below.
45-year old Thalib
said to AKI that "The government is on the right path and the situation is under control."
said there was no need to reinstate Laskar Jihad, which had voluntarily disbanded in October 2002.
said: "The decision to disband Laskar Jihad
in 2002 came about not because of external pressure but through our belief that the government's good faith and efforts were helping to end the conflict."
Jafar Umar Thalib
is an enigmatic character, but despite his
history of helping to propagate was and conflict, he
is widely respected in the Indonesian Muslim community.
has been arrested and imprisoned on several occasions, but not once has he
received any conviction for his
Thalib was born in Malang in East Java province in 1961.
is of Yemeni and Madurese parentage.
For the most part, his
early life had been spent as a teacher of Arabic and Islamic sciences in pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) which were funded by the Al-Irsyad Foundation
is made up mainly of Indonesians of Arabic origin, like Thalib.
The religious outlook of the pesantren schools they sponsor is, like Thalib's, of the Wahhabist persuasion.
had studied in Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabist fundamentalism began and still flourishes.
Already a supporter of extreme and fundamental Islamism, Jafar Umar Thalib
had gone to Afghanistan in 1988 to become a Mujahideen
against the Soviets.
went here after he
had been studying at the Maududi Institute
in Lahore, Pakistan, which had been funded by the extremist Sayyid Abul a'la Maududi (1903 - 1979).
Maududi's Islamism gave rise to the Jamaat-e-Islami parties in Pakistan and Bangladesh, which wish to destroy democratic laws and establish sharia rule in both countries.
Jafar Umar Thalib
had been taking advanced Islamic studies at the Maududi Institute
but dropped out, and moved to Afghanistan.
Like many "mujahideen" who fought in Afghanistan at this time, Thalib claims that he
met Osama bin Laden during his
stay in the country.
returned to Indonesia in 1989, where he
helped to run the Al-Irsyad network of pesantren.
, like the Wahhabists, bin Laden, the followers of Maududi and most of the Al-Irsyad
, believes that nations should be under sharia rule.
Certain figures in the Indonesian political establishment feel similarly.
is said to have links to figures in the army.
When he established Laskar Jihad, he is reputed to have done so with the backing of politicians.
It appears that Thalib's "connections" have allowed him to never receive any punishments for the horrific atrocities carried out by his
Unlike the Jemaah Islamiyah
and other militant groups, Thalib
believes in Indonesia as a political entity, and his
aim to establish sharia is framed within national terms, rather than as a pan-southeast Asian Caliphate.
One its main members was Jafar Umar Thalib
The FKAWJ rejects popular Muslim groups (Muhammadiya and Nahdlatul Ulama), as their tolerance of democracy and other faiths makes them heretical.
It also does not allow women positions of power.
believes that its duties to women are "to educate them and then marry them to pious men who are capable of preventing them from falling into sin.
Men's role is to supervise women and ensure that their behaviour is properly Islamic."
has three wives, all wearing black shrouds, hijabs (headscarfs) and niqabs (face-veils).
now has 14 children by his
Ramadan came to an end in January 1999, and with it came the stability of Ambon in the Moluccas, under their system of "Pela Gandung".
It has been argued that this outbreak of sectarian conflict had been instigated by the military, who hoped that the weak government of Halibi would collapse under such conflict, and could be used as an excuse to introduce martial law.
was officially founded on January 30 2000 in Yogyakarta (some say 1999) as the paramilitary division of the FKAWJ.
claimed that the LJ was formed after it was learned that in Malaku province (the Moluccas), there were plans by Protestant Christians to form a Christian state, independent of Indonesia.
This was, as Thalib
perceived it, to include North Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Papua (Irian Jaya).
claimed that the Christian separatists intended to wage war on the Muslims and drive them out in a process of "ethnic cleansing".
While Laskar Jihad
was being formed, in January 2000, an Acehnese Islamist called Al-Chaidar organised a large Muslim rally in National Monument Park, Jakarta, where he
called for a holy war against the Christians in Ambon.
Wahid was the first ever elected president, but his moderate version of Islam was viewed by Thalib as heretical.
said of his
government: "It is positioned to oppress Muslim interests and protect those of the infidels."
On April 26, 2000, Thalib and his lieutenants bragged that they had a special relationship with the head of the TNI, Admiral Widodo. (Widodo was charged to carry out the investigation into the Poso conflict at the end of last year.
In August 2001, Thalib
sent a large force of Laskar Jihad
But the most intense operations of Laskar Jihad
were focused on Ambon, and against the Christians who until then had lived in harmony with their Muslim neighbours.
By April 2002, things had reached the worst point in ethnic relations on Ambon.
On Friday, April 26, after evening prayers, Jafar Umar Thalib
addressed a gathering of 5,000 Muslims outside the Al-Fatah Mosque
in Ambon, urging them to fight a holy war against the Christians.
said: "From today, we will no longer talk about reconciliation.
Following this atrocity, Thalib
was arrested on May 4, 2002, at the town of Surabaya, the capital of East Java.
was then taken to Jakarta to remain in custody until Thursday July 25 2002on bail.
had been charged with inciting the Soya massacre, and also insulting President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
On 30 January, 2003, Jafar Umar Thalib
Early in October 2002, before his
trial, Laskar Jihad
was voluntarily disbanded.
It is gone, but is still a presence which could be reactivated.
at one stage had been involved in the stoning to death of an alleged rapist in 2001.
Magazine reports had said that he
had cast the first stone.
Though arrested for this act, he
was never prosecuted.
fancies himself as an Islamic intellectual, but his
main role is as an agitator and as a fighter.
In 2002 in Jakarta, he
was engaged in a public debate with Nurcholish Madjid
, one of Indonesia's leading Islamic scholars.
was not able to match Madjid's intellectual strength.
In January this year, Thalib
and hundreds of his
former Laskar Jihad fighters were brought to the Al-Fatah mosque
Here they were given a lecture by imam and author Luqman Ba'abduh.
Ironically, after the events of 9/11, Jafar Umar Thalib
had condemned his
former mentor, Osama bin Laden, along with Al-Qaeda, as a "khawarij".