Laskar Jihad denies links to Laden
26 September 2001
The Times of India
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
JAKARTA: A militant Islamic group fighting Christians in Indonesia''s Maluku islands denied Wednesday any links to Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.The Laskar Jihad group issued a statement following comments by Al Chaidar, a researcher of militant Islamic groups, that bin Laden had provided money and weapons for the jihad, or holy war, in the Malukus.''Laskar Jihad has never received support either financially or militarily from Osama bin Laden for the purposes of jihad in Maluku,'' said the statement.Al Chaidar told AFP last week that Bin Laden had supplied 50 million rupiah ($5,300) to send thousands of Muslim fighters and weapons to the Malukus in 1999, the year before Laskar Jihad began sending fighters.He said links are maintained between Al Qaeda and Indonesians who had joined the mujahedin war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.But Laskar Jihad claimed that it ''does not have ties with Al-Qaeda or any other organisations that are associated with Osama bin Laden or form part of his network.''It said that it follows a different approach to that of bin Laden.An estimated 4,000 people have died in three years of sporadic fighting between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku islands. The group''s commander Jaffar Umar Thalib, a self-proclaimed former mujahedin fighter, publicly paraded its fighters in Jakarta before sending its first wave of 3,000 fighters to the Malukus in May 2000.Local and international observers have blamed the group for much of the violence since mid-2000.Laskar Jihad''s actions were strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Koran and ''are devoid of acts pertaining to terrorism and anarchy,'' the statement added.The United States has named bin Laden the chief suspect behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that killed almost 7,000 people.