Videotaped confessions of three Indonesian suicide bombers have forced some in the world's most populous Muslim nation to confront a truth they previously downplayed, carnage carried out in the name of their faith. Muslim clerics and politicians, some of whom have been unwilling to publicly condemn Islamic terrorism for fear of being seen as subservient to the United States, have lined up to denounce the attackers.
The government released footage of the chilling film, and asked clerics to tell their followers that suicide bombings went against Islam's message of peace.
"We cannot deny what is going on," said Din Syamsuddin, one of Indonesia's most prominent Muslim leaders, after watching footage of young men before they walked into three crowded restaurants on Bali island last month, killing 20 people.
Speaking in Indonesian and Arabic, they recited prayers and said they expected to be rewarded in heaven. "These people are coming from an Islamic background and are committing acts of terror," said Syamsuddin.
Militants with links to al-Qaida have bombed Western targets in Indonesia four times, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people.
Police have arrested scores of militants since then, and last week killed alleged regional terror leader Azahari bin Husin and narrowly missed capturing his accomplice, Noordin Mohammad Top.
As well as the videos, officers unearthed 30 bombs and plans for more attacks. Vice President Yusuf Kalla has invited dozens of journalists and Muslim clerics to his home in recent days to see the video, asking them to spread the message that terrorism in the name of Islam is wrong.
"The people have been very responsive," he said Friday when asked how the campaign was going. "They know that this is a problem of religious understanding that needs to be straightened out. That kind of jihad is not correct."
Pictures of the suicide bombers and condemnations of their actions were splashed across front pages of local papers this week. The video has run repeatedly on TV and audio tapes have been aired on radio. Hard-line groups who liked to peddle conspiracy theories claiming U.S. or Israeli involvement in terror bombings in Indonesia to justify a crackdown on Islam have been largely been silent. At prayers Friday in one Jakarta mosque, one preacher condemned the bombers, echoing the government's line, reports the AP. I.L.
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