Darul Islam

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Darul Islam ("abode of Islam", DI) was a militant Islamist/anti-colonial rebellion in Indonesia lasting from 1949 to 1962. The rebellion took place in West Java, Aceh, and South Sulawesi against the Indonesian government during the tumultuous period of the Indonesian National RevolutionWikipedia (1945-1949) from the Dutch colonial power. DI was led by the Javanese charismatic leader Sekarmadji Maridjan KartosuwiryoWikipedia who militantly pursued the goal of establishing Islamic Indonesia. The movement was strengthened by the Indonesian government's attempt to hand over West Java to the Dutch occupational forces (Renville AgreementWikipedia).[1][2]

DI was ISIS 60 years ahead of the time: they successfully established a sharia-based Islamic state called the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) in 1949 with the help of Islamic militias such as Hizbullah and Sabilillah[note 1] and spread to outer islands such as Sumatra and Sulawesi. The insurgency went as far as making several assassination attempts on SukarnoWikipedia, the president of Indonesia. However, it was crushed later by the Indonesian army. Kartosuwirjo was executed in 1962, and the rebellion went underground.

Despite it being no longer a potent force, DI had caused profound and lasting damage to the Indonesian society by becoming a mother of all jihadist figures and organizations. Literally all the jihadism in Indonesia can be rooted back to DI. The following are known organizations and figures which were born out of this rebellion.


  • Kartosuwiryo (1905-1962): The founder of DI. Contrary to many Islamist figures, he was born in a wealthy family of government officials, educated in secular Western-style schools, and believed in mystical Sufism. Before the national revolution, he joined an Islamic political party but later resigned and pursued a militant approach. He served the imam of NII.
  • Abu Bakar Bashir (1938-): Joined DI around 1976. He became a propagator of DI and provided support to some of the early jihadist organizations such as Komando Jihad. He was imprisoned by the Suharto regime in the late 1970s. In 1982, he fled to Malaysia and there he recruited jihadists from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. This became a foundation of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the most active terrorist organization in Southeast Asia during the War on Terror era. Today he is essentially an Osama bin Laden of Southeast Asia and considered a spiritual leader of all jihadists in the region.
  • Abdullah Sungkar (1937-1999): Joined DI around 1976. Basically, a sidekick of Bashir and went through all the journey together with him from imprisonment, the trip to Malaysia, and the foundation of JI.
  • Aman Abdurrahman (1972-): A prominent ideologue among the new generation of Indonesian jihadists. He joined Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), a splinter cell of JI, and later broke off and founded Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). He's among the strongest promoters of ISIS in Indonesia.
  • Abu Wardah (1976-2016): Former leader of East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), an offshoot of JAT in Poso, Sulawesi. Pledged allegiance to ISIS. Killed after hiding in the jungles for two years.
  • Dulmatin "the genius" (1979-2010): A bomb expert of JI, alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombingsWikipedia. He attended the religious school founded by Bashir.
  • Abdul Rauf (?-2014): An ISIS member from Indonesia. He was part of DI's regional branch (DI Ring Banten) and imprisoned for his indirect involvement in the Bali bombing. After his release in 2011, he traveled to Syria in 2013 and became a contact person for Indonesians who wanted to enlist with ISIS. Killed in Iraq.[3]
  • Mochammad Achwan (?-): Former leader of JAT,[4] now the leader of Jamaah Ansharusy Syariah (JAS). He disagreed with Abdurrahman on view toward ISIS, and took al-Qaeda's approach of anti-ISIS stance.[5]


Organizations are ordered chronologically based on their foundational year.[6]

  • Komando Jihad (1970s-1980s): Claimed to follow Kartosuwirjo's mission of establishing NII. Perpetrator of Garuda Indonesia Flight 206Wikipedia hijacking incident in 1981. It was actually founded by the special forces of the Indonesian army (Kopassus), orchestrated by the chief of intelligence Ali MurtopoWikipedia.[7][8]
  • DI Ring Banten (?-present): An offshoot of DI in the Banten region. Founded by Kang Jaja, Abdul Rauf's uncle.
  • Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) (1993-present): Founded by Bashir and Sungkar by splitting from DI. Orchestrated the Christmas Eve 2000 Indonesia bombingsWikipedia, 2002 Bali bombing, 2004 Australian Embassy bombing in JakartaWikipedia, 2005 Bali bombingsWikipedia, influenced the 2003 JW Marriott hotel bombingWikipedia, 2005 Indonesian beheadings of Christian girlsWikipedia, among countless others. At its height, it claimed a membership of 5,000. It has cells in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. JI was linked to Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and other regional organizations such as Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Philippines. JI maintained a highly sophisticated institution that can carry out recruitment, training, indoctrination, and operation planning. It took a major hit in the late-2000s due to the crackdown by the Indonesian anti-terrorist squad, Detachment 88Wikipedia.
  • Mujahedeen KOMPAK (1998-2010): A splinter cell of JI in Sulawesi, based on the remnant of DI in South Sulawesi. KOMPAK broke off of JI as they grew impatient of JI's focus on indoctrination and prioritized immediate actions of terrorism. It played a huge role during the Muslim-Christian sectarian conflicts in Poso, Sulawesi and Ambon, Maluku island.
  • Tauhid Wal Jihad (2001-present): A small Jihadist group founded by Aman Abdurrahman before he joined JAT. They follow Abdurrahman's ideology and pledged allegiance to ISIS.
  • Tanah Runtuh (2001-present): A regional cell of JI in Poso.
  • Mujahidin Kayamanya (2001-2005): A regional cell of KOMPAK in Poso.
  • Indonesian Mujahideen Council (MMI) (2004-present): A voluntary organization founded by Bashir in the wake of 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamiWikipedia which hit Aceh. It essentially acts as a vigilantist organization like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and a "socially acceptable" version of JI. They even occasionally participate in the congress held by the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), the highest Muslim clerical body in Indonesia.
  • Al Qaeda in the Malay Peninsula (Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad) (2005-2009): Now defunct branch of Al Qaeda in Malaysia, developed from JI.
  • Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) (2008-present): A splinter cell of JI founded by Bashir. The group has bases across Indonesia, including Aceh and Central Sulawesi.
  • East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) (2012-present): A pro-ISIS group founded by Abu Wardah, developed from Tanah Runtuh and JAT and based in Poso.
  • Jamaah Ansharusy Syariah (JAS) (2014-present): A group broke off of JAT, formed by Mochammad Achwan and Bashir's sons Abdul 'Iim Rohim and Rosyid Ridho due to disagreement over ISIS. JAS followed the steps of Al-Qaeda and took an anti-ISIS policy.
  • Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) (2018-present): A splinter cell of JAT founded by Abdurrahman. A group thought to be responsible for the 2018 Surabaya bombingsWikipedia and the 2019 Jolo Cathedral bombingsWikipedia in the Philippines. Act as a regional assemblage of pro-ISIS jihadist.


Darul Islam was a militant Islamist movement prior to the ideological development of Salafi-jihadism as known today. As such, their ideology was not exactly the same as contemporary examples of Islamic terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. DI's rebellion needs to be understood in the context of Indonesian politics: the founding fathers of Indonesia wrote a constitution based on secularism which champions religious pluralism and they did not declare an Islamic state. As a response, DI aimed to establish Indonesia as a sharia-ordained state, just like many Islamic political parties at the time, and they justified the armed rebellion in the context of anti-colonial struggle. Naturally, DI did not have an idea of pan-Islamism like ISIS do, which means NII was specific to the Indonesian territory.

However, DI's offsprings are heavily influenced by Salafi-jihadism and pan-Islamism emanating from the Middle East. Bashir formed his ideology in the era of Islamic revival from the late 1970s, accelerated after the formulation of Qutbism as a prototype of jihadism, the decline of pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism, the Iranian revolution, and the international propagation of Salafism and Wahhabism by gulf Arab states through petrodollars. JI's development kept its pace with the era's most notorious terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, and they were heavily influenced by Al-Qaeda's ideology of pan-Islamism and their goal of attacking "far enemy" (Western interests).[9] Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the most active offshoot of JI today, is a product of the post-Arab spring era exponential growth in Islamic terrorist activity after the Syrian civil war, Libyan civil war, Iraqi civil war, and the emergence of ISIS. Therefore, this new generation of extremists such as Aman Abdurrahman takes a note from ISIS and follow its examples of attacking "near enemy" ("corrupt" Muslim governments which do not follow their fundamentalism).[9]


  1. Hizbullah and Sabilillah are Japanese-trained militias which served as armed wings of the Islamic political party MasyumiWikipedia in order to help Japanese occupational forces in any future Allied invasion. After the Indonesian war of independence, they initially played a role in recruiting and mobilizing Muslims, but some of them later diverted from the alliance with the Republican army and joined DI.


  1. Formichi, C. Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia. Leiden: KITLV Press. p.103. "The physical isolation of West Java from Republican territories caused by the Dutch invasion in July 1947 laid the foundations for the region’s divergent political path to independence, a phenomenon further strengthened by the Renville Agreement."
  2. Formichi, C. Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia. Leiden: KITLV Press. p.110. "[The] West Java branch of the [Masyumi] party was gradually being transformed into the Darul Islam organization. Kartosuwiryo’s decision to pursue this transformation resulted from a combination of factors: the Dutch increase in activity in the Priangan between the end of December 1947 and mid-January 1948; the withdrawal of TNI Siliwangi soldiers from West Java to Yogyakarta to be completed by March 1948; the Islamic militias’ refusal to evacuate the region and their merger into one umbrella organization; the tensions between the TNI and the militias in the weeks leading up to the withdrawal; the scarcity of available weaponry; and the broad popular support for the Islamic militias. These factors strongly contributed to the shaping of the anti-Dutch resistance in West Java as an Islamic movement under Kartosuwiryo’s leadership."
  3. How ISIS Charmed the New Generation of Indonesian Militants Middle East Institute. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  4. MOCHAMMAD ACHWAN United Nations Security Council. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  5. Sons, top aides abandon Ba'€™asyir over ISIL, form new jihadist group. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  6. Hwang, J. Why Terrorists Quit: The Disengagement of Indonesian Jihadists. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  7. We must not get back in bed with Kopassus The Age. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  8. AL-QAEDA IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: THE CASE OF THE “NGRUKI NETWORK” IN INDONESIA International Crisis Group. Retrieved May 23, 2020. p.5 "A little over a decade later after they were crushed, the Darul Islam movements came back into focus. President Soeharto ... had been in power since 1966. As elections were approaching in 1977, the one permitted Muslim party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan or PPP) was gathering strength as the loyal opposition. A vote for the PPP (or the nationalist PDI) was the only way ordinary Indonesians in the tightly controlled state could express dissatisfaction with the government. To pre-empt the possibility of a large PPP vote, Gen. Ali Moertopo, in charge of covert operations for Soeharto, reactivated Darul Islam, although some people close to old Darul Islam leaders say that he merely moved in to manipulate a movement that had already shown signs of revival." "[By] mid-1977, the government had arrested 185 people whom it accused of belonging to a hitherto unknown organization called Komando Jihad, committed to following the ideals of Kartosuwirjo and establishing the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII). In reality, the Komando Jihad was Ali Moertopo’s creation."
  9. 9.0 9.1 Comparing Al Qaeda and ISIS: Different goals, different targets Brookings. Retrieved May 23, 2020.