For all its efforts Indonesia has received widespread praise. But analysts say that smaller cells have cropped up in recent years still pose threats, and a lack of understanding about those groups has prevented better counter-terrorism efforts.
Analysts say disaffected youth are increasingly branching off and starting their own small cells that operate independent of Jemaah Islamiyah or Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, a hardline group set up in 2008 by JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for helping support a paramilitant training camp discovered in 2010 in Aceh, in northern Sumatra.
“They find old groups like the JI and JAT not radical enough,” says Jim Della-Giacoma, the Southeast Asia director of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based organization that monitors radical activity in Indonesia.
Bashir created JAT, which is classified by the United States as a terrorist organization, after breaking away from JI, which more militant groups felt had abandoned jihad. Now, even that group carries out mostly above-ground activities, exerting its influence through schools and prayer groups.
The latter has become a prime source of recruitment for preachers seeking to inflame anger against the Indonesian state, Christians, the Ahmadiyah or, recently, Indonesia's tiny Shiite minority.