Alarm sounds over outlawed Indonesian militant group

Moderate Muslims say the caliphate-seeking Hizb ut-Tahrir has morphed into new outfit called the Islamic Royatul Community
Alarm sounds over outlawed Indonesian militant group

An Indonesian policeman stands guard next to members of the radical Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) group during a rally in this April 16, 2017 photo taken a few months before the government outlawed the organization. (Photo by Muhlis/AFP)

Banned Indonesian extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HTI) has reincarnated and has returned under a different guise, moderate Muslim organizations have warned.

The group, which wanted to see the establishment of a caliphate and was outlawed by the government in July 2017, is now called the Islamic Royatul Community or KARIM, they said.

They called on Indonesian people to remain alert as the new organization’s mission remains to spread a caliphate ideology among youths in schools and communities.

Nahdlatul Ulama or NU, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization and its youth wings — Ansor and Banser — issued a statement, a copy of which was sent to ucanews.com on March 12, warning that the new organization poses a significant danger to pluralism in the country.

“It [KARIM ] targets youth communities and high school students,” the group said.

“The government must take immediate action against it.”

KARIM has established chapters in many cities and has adopted the same tactics as Hizb ut-Tahrir of trying to influence youths with the lure of Islamic heroism, the NU statement warned.

“The government must be firm and rein in this movement because it is dangerous to our nation,” Gus Nuril Arifin Husein, a leading NU figure, told ucanews.com.

He said although the HTI is no more, its ideology has not died.

“If support for a caliphate gains traction, more militant groups will surface and the risk of terrorism grows,” Husein said.

Ainur Rofik al Amin, a former HTI member, told ucanews.com that Hizb ut-Tahrir had reorganized and transplanted its ideology into various groups.

“KARIM is one such group that now stands out and blatantly displays various Hizb ut- Tahrir symbols,” he said.

Hermawi Taslim, a Catholic politician and member of President Joko Widodo’s campaign team for the upcoming presidential election, said the news was disturbing.

“Security officials must monitor this new movement and prevent any conflict among people,” he said.

He said he attended a meeting on March 12 with Nahlatul Ulama leaders to discuss the issue.

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He said it was agreed that all elements in society must remain aware and look to warn the youth especially about how dangerous KARIM could become.

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