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Fatal Cikeusik attack ‘may have been orchestrated’
Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post
New facts emerging from last week’s fatal attack on Ahmadiyah followers in Cikeusik village, Banten, indicate that a third party may have orchestrated the clash, lawyers for Islamic groups say.
Achmad Michdan of the Muslim Lawyers Team (TPM) said he suspected a number of outsiders had deliberately helped trigger the attack.
Three Ahmadis were killed in the attack by thousands of villagers in Cikeusik.
“We have studied videos that have been widely circulated and spoke to locals in the area. There were some facts in our preliminary findings that were disturbing,” he said.
A series of video recordings of the attack have circulated on the Internet, showing angry mobs attacking a building believed to be an Ahmadi house of worship. The mob attacked Ahmadis with bamboo sticks and stones and burned a parked car. Some of them wielded machetes.
Arif, who filmed the event, is now under the protection of the Witness and Victim Protection Agency. Mahendradatta, another TPM lawyer, said he suspected the videos had been deliberately made for publication.
“We suspect the videos were edited before being released to cut out parts that may disrupt the ‘plans’,” he said.
Arif’s lawyer from the Human Rights Working Group, Choirul Anam, said the videos were not continuous due to a malfunctioning camera battery.
In the video, most of the attackers wore blue ribbons. Agus Setiawan, the head of TPM Banten, said the ribbons were distributed by an unidentified man.
“The mob walked down a small street toward the Ahmadis. About 200 meters before the clash site, a man distributed the ribbons, telling the mob to ‘wear it to avoid being confused [for Ahmadis]’,” he claimed.
The videos showed a man in a black leather jacket holding a machete leading the mob in the attack. Although his actions indicate he was a leader of the group, Agus said none of the villagers knew him. Provocative text messages were also received by villagers the night before the attack, supposedly from a cleric.
“But the numbers used to send the messages don’t match the cleric’s cell phone number,” Agus added.
The TPM, which represents the five suspects named by police for the attack, said it would hand over its findings to police.
The TPM, however, acknowledged that public anger against Ahmadis had intensified.
“Anger at the Ahmadis erupted prior to the clash for a number of reasons. First, they found the Ahmadis had called on friends for back-up instead of leaving the village. In fact, the Ahmadis had also prepared weapons.
“Second, two of the Ahmadis who were captured by villagers refused to renounce their deviant faith,” Agus said.
Two days after the attack, another incident of religious violence occurred in Temanggung, Central Java. Angry crowds attacked three churches in response to a blasphemy ruling at a local court.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono responded to the incidents by calling for a ban on violent mass organizations. Many believe he was alluding to the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), which responded by saying Yudhoyono would be toppled if he banned the group.
In his official website, presidensby.info, Yudhoyono countered the group’s statement. “I won’t be afraid of bluffing,” he said.