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12 August 2006

Indonesian Muslim group collecting money to buy Hezbollah weapons

medium_we-are-all-hezbollah.4.jpgJakarta - One of Indonesia's most prominent Muslim organizations is taking donations to help militants in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories buy weapons to fight Israel, a newspaper reported Friday

Muhammadiyah, which has about 30 million members and has been lauded by the US government for promoting moderate Islam, is seeking cash for both Hezbollah and Hamas, The Jakarta Post said.

Several hardline Indonesian Islamic groups have been signing up fighters and suicide bombers to travel to the Middle East to wage holy war, or jihad, against Israel with at least two claiming they had already dispatched dozens of men.

But Din Syamsuddin, Muhammadiyah's chairman, said he saw no need to send men to the Mideast. 'I think we should donate more money to help Hezbollah and Hamas fighters buy weapons,' he was quoted as saying. 'If needed, I will personally hand over the weapons to them.'

He added that Muhammadiyah, which is Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization, had already donated money to the Palestinian embassy in Jakarta to buy weapons for Hamas.

Indonesia is the country with the world's largest Muslim population, and although the country's government is secular, many citizens are enraged by Israel's ongoing military operations in Lebanon and the perceived US support of them.

Weekly protests have been held across the country by both radical Islamic groups as well as inter-faith councils comprised of Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

Syamsuddin's comments came after a meeting Thursday with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who along with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has urged Indonesians not to travel to the Middle East to fight.

'The vice president told us not to overreact to the Mideast crisis since it could only put Indonesia at a disadvantage,' Syamsuddin said, 'but he suggests we continue helping the Palestinians and the Lebanese.'

Muhammadiyah has had close relations with the US embassy in Jakarta because of his group's promotion of mainstream Islam and its humanitarian activities, but its contributions to Hamas and Hezbollah, which are both on Washington's list of terrorist groups, could jeopardize that relationship.


© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

09:50 Posted in Indonesia | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

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