Abdul Rahman Ayub … once one of Australia’s most wanted men.The radical Islamist preacher who once helped establish terror group Jemaah Islamiyah in Australia admits he wanted to make the country a financial hub for the attempt to overthrow the Indonesian state.
Abdul Rahman Ayub (pictured), once one of Australia’s most wanted men, also believes a cell of 30 or more jihadists that he helped indoctrinate may remain active in Australia and that authorities know little about them.
Ayub, who was the deputy leader of JI in Australia to his twin brother, Abdul Rahim, has told The Sun-Herald they were sent by Indonesia’s godfather of terrorism, Abu Bakar Bashir, in 1997 to train young radicals in their form of Islam.
Both brothers stayed until 2002, the year of the Bali bombing. In his first interview with an Australian journalist, Ayub says the brothers taught perhaps 100 people about the violent form of jihad.
”When I came back from Australia in 2002, to my knowledge there were about 30 people [who were still radicals in Australia],” he says. ”I don’t know about their recent development, whether they’re still active or not, but I believe they are still there. Neither I nor ASIO know the exact figures, nor how active they are.”
Ayub was trained in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1992 to fight as a mujahid, or holy warrior. He was an expert in unarmed combat and became a confidant of the Bali bombers Hambali (whose wedding he helped pay for) and Mukhlas. He says at one time he respected Bashir ”more than I respected my parents”.
However, he denies he had any advance knowledge of the Bali attack and insists he never wanted an attack on Australian soil.
”My mission was to preach Islam … Bashir told us not to commit any violence in Australia – we treated Australia as a country for taking political asylum,” he says.
”But we did teach jihad against Indonesia, against Suharto at the time. We taught about forming an Islamic state, but in Indonesia, not in Australia.”
Australia was to be ”our financial base to financially support our struggle in Indonesia”, he says, though that plan had not worked out.
Ayub says ASIO confiscated the cassettes he and his brother had made of their sermons over the years and found nothing to charge them with. However, they did recruit British immigrant and Muslim convert Jack Roche to JI. Roche was arrested and jailed in 2002 for conspiring to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra.
”We decided we needed an Australian who could speak Arabic, to talk to people about Islam,” Ayub says.
After they recruited him, Roche went to Indonesia where he met terrorist mastermind Hambali (now in Guantanamo Bay).
”Hambali influenced him with this Osama [bin Laden] doctrine and helped him go to al-Qaeda camp,” Ayub says. ”It happened without our knowledge. When Roche returned [to Australia] he acted differently. He didn’t obey me and we suspected something was wrong.”
Ayub says the attack of September 11, 2001, Bali and Roche’s plot were errors that had changed how Islam was regarded and had damaged his own faith in violent jihad. ”I was furious. I was very against those attacks because it hurts Muslims themselves … It hurts humanity and it hurts our principles,” Ayub says now.
Over a number of years he abandoned his former belief in the overthrow of the Indonesian state. He says he believes now that Muslims should fight only as soldiers in a war zone.
Ayub hoped Indonesia might become an Islamist state but now believes it cannot be rushed: ”It’s God’s decision. If Allah wants to give it to us, it will happen.”
He works around Jakarta as a freelance theologian, preaching Islam. His brother, who left Australia three days after the Bali bombing, runs two schools. Abdul Rahim declined to be interviewed but, according to Abdul Rahman, has also given up belief in violent jihad.
With about 35 other former mujahideen, Abdul Rahman is working through the ”Afghan Alumni Forum” to de-radicalise some of Indonesia’s young jihadists and inoculate Indonesians against the radical doctrine.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.