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Muslim-Christian violence rampant in 'new' Indonesia
Fifth most-populous nation explodes with religious hatred 

By Anthony LoBaido


JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Father Ricardo walked gingerly across the charred remains of a church that recently was torched by a band of Muslim fanatics. In a macabre scene, burned pews, crushed stained glass windows, tattered vestments, a communion chalice and a few torn pages from a hymnal dotted the floor.

"It's a nightmare. My Lord, when is it going to stop? Where is this all going to lead?" he said softly again and again, in great despair.

Indeed, post-dictatorship Indonesia's stab at democracy -- after having been ruled by either a left-wing or right-wing strongman for decades --is in great peril, with Christian-Muslim violence continually festering here in the capital of Jakarta.



"I know it's only a building, and God's spirit is inside of His followers. But still, it's a holy place, a place for prayer and reflection. Why would anyone want to burn it down?"

He is not afraid. "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind," he said thoughtfully. "An eye for an eye would leave us with a lot of blind people. An arm for an arm is not a proper response. Love can melt the hearts of evildoers."

The priest then led the way through a small alley nearby. The floor of the alley was littered with posters depicting American actress Neve Campbell and a movie about the 1970s disco scene called "54." Continuing on, Father Ricardo led this WorldNetDaily reporter to a green park nearby, where he sat down on a bench near to a group of Indonesian soldiers, the TMI, from the elite and feared Koppassus -- the Special Forces division.

Sporting green camouflage and red berets, the soldiers sat in a group of 12, checking their gear and basking in the warm summer sun. They carried M-16s, AK-47s, pistols and even small grenade launchers.

One of the soldiers took out a large Rambo-style knife, spit on a sharpening stone and began to hone the edge in small rhythmic circles.

Father Ricardo eyed the soldier warily. "For over 400 years, Indonesia was a Dutch colony. The Hollanders united Indonesians into one country. Since the Japanese invaders were driven out by the Allies at the end of World War II, we have had a left-wing dictator -- Sukarno -- and then a right wing dictator -- Suharto. Now, just as democracy has supposedly arrived, everything is coming apart at the seams," he told WorldNetDaily as the smooth yet discomforting sound of the knife sharpening ritual filled the quiet afternoon air.

"I don't like the soldiers having to patrol the streets. I mean, we must respect authority, and they are trying to keep order. But guns and soldiers are not a long-term answer to our problems in Indonesia."

Speaking about the reign of Sukarno, known as "Bung" or "Brother" Karno, Father Ricardo said that Sukarno took power in 1945. After two decades as a left-wing dictator, he appointed himself president for life in 1963.

"Sukarno was obsessed with liberal anti-Christian ideas like The Enlightenment and the French Revolution -- the 'goddess of Reason' and that sort of thing," said Father Ricardo.

"Sukarno was a collaborator with the Japanese occupation, and actually recruited thousands of Indonesians to work for the Japanese military. All of these men perished, having been worked to death. But he was a shrewd character -- first a nationalist, then a collaborator with the Fascist Japanese, mutating into a communist, after that a leader of the non-aligned movement. And finally, just a womanizer."

"Suharto, with the help of the CIA, deposed him in 1965, and turned Indonesia away from communism.   Suharto took much wealth for himself, and gave a lot of money to his generals. But he raised living standards, and was in the broadest sense of the word a just and good leader. But the liberals in the West tired of him, and decided to shove him out the door. The 1997 Asian meltdown provided them with a good excuse. Never did the West realize the anarchy that would ensue after his reign ended."

A trail of blood
Recently over 500,000 Muslims gathered in the capitol to call for a "jihad" against Christian Indonesians.

Chanting "Allah Akbar," or "God is Great," and "Jihad!" and "Death to all Christians," the Muslims marched under the watchful eye of their own green-clad security men.

"Tolerance is nonsense. Slaughter the Christians," read a large banner that was unfurled at the rally, witnessed by WorldNetDaily. Chants of "Burn the churches!" and "Death to the Crusaders" filled the air.

Father Ricardo said that Muslim vigilantes attacked and burned down the entire campus of Doulos Seminary. Many of the 400 students there were wounded, and a few died.

Muslims threatened further vigilante action around Indonesia at the end of Ramadan. The Islamic Teachers Council of Indonesia wrote a letter to the attorney general of Indonesia asserting that Christian organizations are "conducting illegal activities" such as "Christianizing Muslims," even though freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution.

The priest seemed to grow increasingly agitated at the sight of the soldiers and their knife sharpening.

"Isn't it sharp enough yet?" the priest asked the soldier.

"It's never sharp enough," the soldier replied without looking up. Then, after a short moment passed, the soldier took the knife and ran it along his tongue horizontally, till a thin red line of blood showed on it.

"Hey Father," another soldier shouted. "The Muslims burned down all the discos -- Disco's dead! They took out a bunch of hotels. Now they're starting on the churches. Looks like if this keeps up, you'll be out of a job."

Ignoring the teasing and taunting of the troops, Father Ricardo then said, "The Holy Father said Mass on January 5th, and asked that the message of peace from Bethlehem echo forcefully in places struck by war -- particularly Indonesia. But no one is listening to the Pope's message."

The priest took a deep breath, wiping his balding gray head with a white handkerchief.

"Did you know there was a huge earthquake off of Jakarta, under the water on January 6th of this year?" he then inquired.

"It registered 5.6! Imagine that. I wonder if it was a warning from God to stop all of the anti-Christian killing. And all killing in general. Maybe another seaquake will occur and send a big tidal wave over Java, and then everyone will learn their lesson."

Anti-U.N. feelings
The soldiers laughed among themselves, seemingly inoculated against the violent destruction currently gripping their country. In the "New Indonesia," the military, long a bastion of power, has come under international scrutiny, with calls for war crimes trials to be held over the military's role in East Timor. An anti-communist country since Suharto's takeover in 1965, the military is not well pleased with seeing the Marxist Xanana Gusmao installed to power in East Timor by Australia and the United Nations.

As such, tensions are high in Jakarta and throughout Indonesia. Rumors of a military coup against the new government are rampant. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke went so far as to warn Indonesia's military rulers against a coup.

"We're in the 21st century now. Any coup would isolate Indonesia internationally and hurt its economic recovery," said Holbrooke, who was backed up by President Clinton in his warning to Indonesia's military. The Clinton administration is eager to smooth over any trouble that might interfere with the G-7 summit in Tokyo later this month. As such, senior government officials from the UK and U.S. will travel soon to Jakarta for high-level meetings with Indonesia's new governmental leaders.

Almost all of the Indonesian soldiers questioned by WorldNetDaily mocked Holbrooke's warnings.

"So does that mean that three weeks ago we could have had a coup -- when we were still in the 20th century?" one asked mockingly.

"We are so sick of the United Nations and America telling us what to do. Your President Clinton is a rapist and a murderer who has committed treason against your own nation. Why don't your generals stage a coup against him? Just leave us alone to work out our own problems."

According to one Western military attache based in Jakarta, "The West fears the growing power of General Wiranto, the former chief of the TMI [Indonesian army]. Wiranto has maintained active duty status. He is now the most powerful member of the new cabinet. Will he just stand by when his troops are tried for rape, arson and killing in East Timor?" said the attache, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"When the TMI invaded Timor in 1975," he said, "Henry Kissinger was in Jakarta the day before the invasion, presumably to give the go-ahead. It was an anti-communist counter-insurgency type of operation. Now the TMI has been asked to hand over the country to the communists. As such, I expect to see the TMI continue to close ranks. The Damocles Sword of military interventionism will continue to hang over Indonesia for the next year at least."

The attache also told WorldNetDaily that East Timor was home to a deep-water sea passage vital to the Australian navy.

"The Timor Sea provides the only deep water corridor for Australian submarines to pass north into Southeast Asia. So it is vital that Australia maintain an active presence in the region."

The ice melts
Indonesia's problems are too vast and complex to defy even a sliver of comprehension for the casual observer.

To begin, Indonesia is a vast archipelago comprised of some 13,700 islands spread over 1,475,000 square kilometers. It is also the fifth most populated country on earth, with 220 million people, and the third largest democracy in the world -- trailing only India and the U.S.

With 86 percent of its population nominally Muslim, Indonesia is the most populous Islamic country on earth -- most people being the moderate Sunni Muslims.

Since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Indonesia's economy has hit bottom, with millions of Indonesians unemployed. The nation's foreign debt is about $135 billion.

Clearly, a Balkans-style break-up of the nation is not out of the question.

Trouble spots include Sumatra, the world's sixth largest island. In the Northern Aceh Province, Islamic jihad warriors, including well-armed and well-trained women, are waging a protracted war of independence with the Indonesian military. On Jan. 16, the Free Aceh Separatists killed 20 TMI troops and wounded 50 more.

Sumatra holds the world's largest deposits of natural gas, and also boasts large oil reserves. The violence in Sumatra has caused Western multinational oil companies to pull out, leaving millions of dollars worth of equipment languishing in the field. Between 1989 and 1998, over 2,000 citizens of Aceh province have been killed by the TMI.

A TMI soldier caught selling three guns to Free Aceh Separatists was summarily executed two weeks ago. While waging a struggle via the Internet and hosting foreign journalists for an "educational seminar" on their goals and aims, the Free Aceh Separatists hope to cash in on international sentiment over freedom for East Timor to propel their own dreams of an Islamic state.

"Aceh and Sumatra will never break free. The West loves Marxists like Gusmao, but East Timor has no oil and natural gas. Texaco and Chevron haven't left millions of dollars in equipment behind. And the West loathes fundamentalist Islam," said TMI Col. Sippen Mayar.

The Free Aceh Movement continues to grow and plague the TMI. More than 70 elementary schools have been burned to the ground and almost 20,000 students were forced to stay home after recent violence. Acehnese have resorted to using the rencong, a traditional machete to attack the TMI soldiers, who are caught in a hopeless Vietnam-style war of attrition.

"How can we hold the country together?" said one Koppassus soldier who talked with WorldNetDaily.

"Are we here to fight for Chevron or Mobil? Or is it Christianity? Or against Islam? Or for the territorial integrity of Indonesia? If so, why did we abandon East Timor?"

"The Indonesian military are a tough bunch," said Maj. Carl Bernard, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier who has worked extensively in the Pacific Theater.

"Their former chief of staff -- Benjamin Moerdani, spent a year in the U.S. as our guest at Fort Bragg when he was a captain. He captured a U.S. Special Forces team we "inserted" on Sumatra and we had to pay eleven infantry battalions of equipment to get them back. Who knows though if the TMI can contain the Free Aceh Separatists?"

Spice girls ... and boys
Another trouble spot to the east is East Timor, in the grips of an uneasy truce.

Australian soldiers in East Timor have been accused of rape. Tuberculosis is rampant, killing scores of Timorese. Australian troops, frustrated with "mission creep," have now taken an interest in digging for ANZAC war dead buried in the hills of Timor. In the 1940s, many Australians died in Timor fighting the Japanese. Their current mission in Timor is a new chance to tie up loose ends of the past.

But Sumatra, Jakarta and East Timor are merely the tip of the iceberg. In Lombok, near the vacation haven of Bali, Muslims burned seven churches to the ground on January 17.

In the fabled Spice Islands of Maluku, Christian-Muslim violence continues to rage unabated. A virtual lockdown of the islands has been put in effect by the TMI.

The Spice Islands consist of a scattered collection of isles, which lie between Sulawesi and Irian Jaya. The largest of these islands are Halmahera in the north and Seram in the south. To the southeast is Ambon, also a trouble spot for Christian-Muslim violence.

"The Spice Islands are sort of a Kosovo-Serb stronghold identity-wise," said a Western diplomat based in Jakarta.

"Muslims dominated the region until the Portugese kicked them out in the mid-1500s. Recently there has been a large Muslim influx into the region."

"The feelings among Christians of being treated unjustly has ignited the unrest," said Thamrin Amal Tamagola, a Maluku-born sociologist at the state University of Indonesia.

"If you pour fuel on dry hay, it will suddenly burn to ashes."

Over 1,700 Indonesians have been killed in violence in the Spice Islands since January 1999. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the violence. Over 700 have been killed in the past 10 days.

Despite the presence of 10,000 TMI troops, including 600 Koppassus Special Forces soldiers and nine new battalions, the carnage continues to rage.

Newcrest Mining, an Australian gold mining company digging in North Malaku, has been accused of aiding the Christians in their struggle against the Muslims. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government has confirmed that the Iran-based Hezbollah, or "Party of God," has been trying to smuggle arms to the Muslims in the Spice Islands. Both Muslims and Christians alike have accused the Indonesian military of siding with the other.

The new leaders
Trying to keep a lid on the violence has proved no easy task for Indonesian President Adburranman Wahid -- known affectionately as "Gus Dur" -- Gus for "brother" and "Dur" as a shortened version of his name.

Wahid is a Muslim holy man who leads the National Awakening Party. Blind, aged 59 and under poor health with kidney problems and diabetes, Wahid is seen by the Western transnational elite as the "Savior of Indonesia."

Having recently recognized the State of Israel, Wahid has also promised to squash any Islamic jihad in Sumatra and the Spice Islands. His Nahdlatul Ulama Muslim Social and Educational organization boasts 40 million members.

Wahid was educated in Iraq and Egypt. Speaking English, Arabic and German, in addition to two Indonesian languages -- all fluently -- he is believed to possess magic and psychic powers by many of his followers.

One of Wahid's early initiatives was to set up a South Africa-style "Truth and Reconciliation" tribunal to try Suharto for financial and criminal misconduct. Suharto has thus far refused to cooperate. More recently, Wahid has pushed to help the "pribumi" or "native Indonesians." Ethnic Chinese are a small minority in Indonesia, yet they control much of the country's wealth. As such, there is great resentment against them, so Wahid has advanced the idea of low interest loans and government contracts to appease the complaints of the Pribumi.

Wahid has also promised to hold a referendum on Acehnese autonomy, and has undertaken a 14-nation world tour to gather international support for his moderate Islamic regime.

Heeding warnings given by MI-5 and the CIA of a possible military coup, Wahid has ordered a major shake-up of the military. Major-General Sudradjat has been replaced by Air Force Marshall Graito Husodo.

Sudradjat had been a major critic of Wahid, stating that Wahid "had no right to interfere with the TMI." Sudradjat is also a strong ally of General Wiranto. The move has been seen as an attempt to weaken Wiranto's access to the military.

Assisting Wahid in trying to bring a coherent agenda to Indonesia is Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of the former Marxist dictator Sukarno. Megawati is the darling of the Clinton administration, having a long affiliation and support of the Democratic Party in the United States. The alliance of Megawati's "Democratic Party Struggle" with the Red Chinese People's Liberation Army and the infamous pro-Clinton Lippo Group is a convoluted one. The "Democratic Party Struggle" was expected to win the recent Indonesian elections, but when it fell short, Megawati's supporters turned violent, rioting, killing and setting off car bombs, which killed many innocents. Fearing anarchy, Wahid promised her the number two slot in his government.

Mega, as she is known, has been called an "abangan" or "Bad Muslim" by her detractors. Recently, more radical Muslims have called for her resignation for refusing to help the Muslims in their jihad in the Spice Islands.

As for just where all of this violence and anarchy will lead the "New Indonesia," no one can be sure.

"It comes down to control," said one CIA official interviewed in Jakarta by WorldNetDaily.

"Dictatorships, left or right, are too unstable. They breed dissent. Except for the Middle East, we eschew them. Get used to a new term: 'Polyarchy.' That meaning, two foreign-funded political parties, supposedly competing to rule any particular country. Yet no matter which one wins, both will do the bidding of America, the West and the transnational corporations. In Indonesia today, you have Mega and Wahid, both foreign funded, both having sold their soul to the West. The only force that can wreck our cozy little arrangement is the Indonesian military. You see, patriotism has become a dirty word in the new world order."


Indonesia's 50-year storm
Island nation long-time home to Christian persecution

NIAS, Sumatra While Indonesia has suffered at the hands of outsiders at times during the last 50 years, it is the Islamic crackdown on the minority Christians that is the nation's greatest scourge, say local believers.

"From the Japanese occupation during World War II to the battle against Dutch colonialism, the Marxism of Sukarno to the right-wing anti-communist government of Suharto, the people of Indonesia have endured much suffering," said Sister Elizabeth Soto, a Catholic nun living in Sumatra.

"Yet the greatest fight in the history of Indonesia is being waged today it is the battle between Christianity and Islam. The Muslims in Indonesia claim to be moderate and want to cooperate with the West, but you wouldn't know it from the bloodshed they have wreaked upon the Christians in Indonesia."

"Indonesia has been in the grips of a storm for 50 years at least," she told WorldNetDaily.

At over 200 million inhabitants, Indonesia is the third most populous country in Asia, next to China and India. Nearly nine out of 10 Indonesians are Muslim. More than half of those adhere to Javanese Islamic beliefs, which contain a mix of Buddhism and mysticism. Three percent of the population are Catholic, while 5 percent are Protestant.

When WorldNetDaily visited Lake Toba in the center of Sumatra, scores of Christians living in fear of Islamic jihad spoke of their trials and tribulations. Lake Toba sits adjacent to a large, dormant volcano and is home to some long-standing Protestant churches that have stood as a bedrock for the Christian faith in the region.

"Ming," a Christian Indonesian of Chinese origin, spoke of the "great persecution" Chinese Christians have endured in recent years.

"The Chinese of Indonesia are hated because we are perceived to control the economy and the financial destiny of the nation," he told WND.

Ming had been traveling on business through the fabled Spice Islands, the Molaccas, when he "was caught up in a series of attacks launched by Muslims against Christians."

"They attacked a church and the congregation I was attending," he said. "They have camps for military training set up. This is well-documented. There was even a film crew from the BBC at one of the Islamic training camps. I have no doubt that sinister forces are at work behind the scenes. 'Laskar jihad' they call it, I believe. It's just unreal how the Christians in the West sit back in their big churches and do nothing."

Pastor Richard Fu, a Baptist who lives on the shores of Lake Toba, told WorldNetDaily that the Islamic jihad in Sumatra and Indonesia "finds its roots in foreign money, ideology and training in places like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"Why does America bomb Afghanistan but fete the leaders of Saudi Arabia, who are the real head of the snake?" he asked.

Fu believes the Islamic jihad is "strongest on the northern tip of Sumatra."

WorldNetDaily arrived on the northern tip of Sumatra via ferry from Penang, Malaysia. Rich in natural gas and seeking autonomy from Jakarta, Acheh Province is currently the scene of a desperate battle between government troops and Islamic independence seekers.

Muhammad, a 12-year-old Muslim boy living in the war-torn region, says he and his peers engage in military training because they "want the Crusaders out."

When asked if it mattered to him that almost all Indonesian Christians were non-European, Muhammad told WorldNetDaily, "That does not matter. The Chinese follow the religion of the Crusaders, and so they must be driven out."

Says Sister Soto, "This is the type of mentality that we, as Catholics and Christians, can only meet with sincere love. Jihad is at the core of every 'good' Muslim."