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January 7, 2005
Islamists Begin Infiltrating Tsunami Relief Efforts

As predicted, Islamists have begun their own relief efforts in Indonesia in an attempt to establish their credentials in the Muslim nation. In Banda Aceh, the Washington Times reports that Western military units providing humanitarian assistance have been warned about the potential security risks:

An extremist Islamic group with links to al Qaeda has set up relief operations in Aceh province on Sumatra island, raising concerns that international relief workers will become terrorist targets as in Iraq.

Amid hundreds of aid workers near the airport in Banda Aceh, Laskar Mujahidin posted an English-language sign that reads "Islamic Law Enforcement."

The group, known for hunting down and killing Christians during a long-running sectarian conflict in another part of Indonesia, said yesterday it is collecting corpses, distributing food and spreading Islamic teachings among refugees.

U.S., Australian and South Korean government officials said they were aware of security threats in the region and were taking precautions. One major aid agency said its staff had been ordered not to fly in U.S. helicopters.

We knew that the tsunami's devastating effects in Indonesia and the Indian Ocean region would give radical Islam an opportunity to gain a toehold through the cover of relief efforts. Undoubtedly, this is one of the considerations taken into account in our own response to the area, although a secondary one at best. Western nations have been fortunate that the regimes funding and sheltering radical Islamists have mostly been AWOL from relief efforts up to now.

Having an AQ-affiliated gang of terrorists in Banda Aceh risks a provocation between the lunatics and our troops, although the greater danger will be a whispering campaign that creates the wild conspiracy theories and rampant rumors that we've already seen. With people missing by the thousands and normal society and communications wiped out, it won't be difficult for groups like Laskar Mujahidin to convince people that Americans stole children, caused the tsunami, poisoned the water or food -- and you can bet they'll try.

The US and other Western nations must work hard to marginalize groups like Laskar Mujahidin in Aceh and other areas in the region to keep their mischief to a minimum. Working with the Indonesian military for relief efforts will help, as the Times article notes, but also promoting non-military relief would take the steam out of the terrorists. Our comprehensive approach to the crisis is our best assurance of a positive outcome for all concerned.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 7, 2005 5:45 AM

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» Group linked to al Qaeda starts 'relief' work in Aceh from Hyscience
Why is it that in the interest of political correctness the U.S. and other governments continue to allow these terrorists to gain footholds for future terror operations? Of course they are "spreading Islamic teachings among refugees," and we all know... [Read More]

Tracked on January 7, 2005 7:08 AM

» Enter the Religion of Peace from The Scriptorium
If you found it odd to read news headlines that don't involve Islamic terrorists since the tsunami disaster hit the front pages, be prepared for a return to the headlines for the religion of peace. Islamists linked to Al Qaeda have moved into the tsu... [Read More]

Tracked on January 7, 2005 3:19 PM

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