JEMAAH Islamiyah (JI), an Indonesian-based militant group, has evolved from a terror organization into a vicious Muslim nationalistic group, after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a source from the intelligence community said.
The same source revealed that JI has been working for the establishment of a Pan Islamic State in Southeast Asia, which prompted it to launch terror campaigns in various countries in the region during the past years.
The difference between ISIS and Al-Qaeda is that the former has declared an Islamic Caliphate, which made it more attractive among various militant groups around the world including the JI.
JI is blamed for several deadly bombing attacks that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in the last decade.
The deadliest JI attack was the Bali bombings in October 2002 in which 200 Australian tourists were killed and hundreds of others were injured. They were also linked to the bombing of Marriot Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2005.
The group was also involved in the Rizal Day bombing in 2000 that killed 26 people and injured dozens of others.
JI bomb expert Rohman al-Ghozi was reportedly behind the Rizal Day bombing along with Muklis Yunos, a bomb expert of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The bombing was said to be in retaliation to the all-out war launched by then President Joseph “Erap” Estrada against the MILF during his tenure.
Al-Ghozi was later arrested by government security forces but was able to escape from his purportedly highly secured detention facility inside Camp Crame sometime in July 2003.
He was killed a few months after his escape by pursuing government security forces.
The same source revealed that several JI members are in Mindanao and actively recruiting young Filipino Muslims to become ISIS sympathizers.
Zulkipli Bin-Hir alias Marwan, a Malaysian bomb expert and JI member is leading the recruitment drive along with Mauwiya, Quaim, Abu Saad, Abu Hatab and Abu Jandar and Amin Baco alias “Abu Jihad”.
The source added that Hatab and Jandar are Indonesians who arrived in the country in the first quarter of 2013 and have immersed themselves with the group of Furuji Indama, an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) commander based in Basilan.