The Southeast Asia-based Jemaah Islamiya (JI) is an extremist group that seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines. More than 300 JI operatives, including operations chief Hambali, have been captured since 2002. The death of top JI bombmaker Azahari bin Husin in November may have disrupted JI operations temporarily, though the group likely continues attack planning, recruitment, and training. Noordin Top, a senior JI operative involved in several major attacks, remains at large. At year end, JI emir Abu Bakar Bashir was serving a 30-month sentence in a Jakarta prison for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings.
The group’s most recent high-profile attack occurred in Bali on October 1 and left approximately 22 persons dead. Other major JI attacks include the September 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the August 2003 bombing of the J. W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, and the October 2002 Bali bombing. The 2002 Bali attack, which killed more than 200, remains one of the deadliest terrorist attacks since 9/11. In June 2003, authorities disrupted a JI plan to attack several Western embassies and tourist sites in Thailand. In December 2001, Singaporean authorities uncovered a JI plot to attack the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and British and Australian diplomatic buildings in Singapore. JI is also responsible for the coordinated bombings of numerous Christian churches in Indonesia in December 2000 and was involved in the bombings of several targets in Manila the same month. JI also provided operatives to al-Qaida for its 2002 plot to use airliners for attacks on targets in the United States.
Exact numbers currently are unknown, but Southeast Asian authorities continue to uncover and arrest JI elements. Estimates of total JI members vary from the hundreds to the thousands.
JI is based in Indonesia but believed to have cells in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. JI also operated a cell in Karachi, Pakistan, until it was disrupted in 2003.
Investigations indicate that JI is fully capable of its own fundraising, although it also receives financial, ideological, and logistical support from Middle Eastern contacts, non-governmental organizations, and other groups.