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Quite possibly Imam Samudra, the field coordinator of the Bali bombings, was a narcissist. Along with his two co-conspirators Amrozi and Mukhlas, Samudra was executed in for his role in the bombings. Even the name Imam Samudra Ocean Leader was not just an alias but a grandiose act of self-invention. His real name was Abdul Aziz.
Invented Samudra was a fearless mujahid holy warrior who fought against the Soviet empire in Afghanistan alongside Osama bin Ladin. Abdul Aziz never went beyond training in Pakistan, cried when a side trip to Afghanistan was cancelled, and was sent back early to Indonesia. Invented Samudra claimed that he would have gladly served as a martyr in the Bali bombings.
Abdul Aziz manipulated a troubled young man from his hometown into sacrificing himself instead. Abdul Aziz appealed his sentence all the way to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that execution by firing squad would be inhumane and a violation of his human rights, and, as death drew near, made panicked threats against government officials he held responsible for his fate.
Indeed, it appears true that even in the world of militant Islam, Samudra was more militant than most. What made him different? McIntyre argues that he was strongly driven by feelings of humiliation at the treatment of Muslims by the West and a desire to avenge Muslim victims with the murder of civilians from the US and its allies. Samudra also saw revenge as a unifying theme. But was Samudra really more vengeful that his fellow global jihadists who had, like him, adopted an ideology that glorifies revenge?
McIntyre concedes that individual psychology was only one factor that operated in interaction with global jihadist ideology to lead Samudra to terrorism. Still, it seems unclear, in this case, if psychology preceded ideology or vice versa.
Yet the available evidence suggests that for Samudra revenge was a byproduct of an extremist ideology that cultivates and channels that emotion, among others, and was not in itself a causal factor. The role of emotion has not been entirely ignored in the recent literature on militant Islamism. In Leaderless Jihad , Marc Sageman argued that the process of radicalisation often begins with a sense of moral outrage. Furthermore, when militants speak of humiliation and moral outrage after committing a terrorist attack, as Samudra did, some caution is required given that such justification can be made up after the event or part of a recruitment strategy.
He broke away from the cultish and sectarian Nation of Islam, converted to orthodox Sunni Islam, and embraced tolerance and pluralism. Indeed, in the literature on terrorism and political violence more generally, there is scope for more research of this kind that takes into account such factors. Terrorists are a psychologically diverse cohort, but certain roles within militant organisations do seem to be associated with certain personality traits.
Quinton Temby quinton. Rapid construction of a COVID hospital is a rare good news story for the government but the motives behind it remain unclear. A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar.
Facebook Twitter. Donate Write for us Volunteer. Essays Lontar Modern Indonesia Series. Books Film. Published: Jul 24, Add comment. Latest Articles A house of cards? Subscribe to Inside Indonesia Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.
National Library of Australia. Search the catalogue for collection items held by the National Library of Australia. Read more Aziz, Abdul. Aku melawan teroris!
Samudra was born as Abdul Aziz in Serang , Banten then part of West Java province , he was raised by a single mother as one of 12 children. Samudra graduated from an Islamic school. He left home in and did not return for a decade - and then only for a few hours before disappearing again, according to his mother. He went to Malaysia and taught at a religious school in the south of the country in the early s. Indonesian authorities say the school was run by the suspected leaders of the militant Jemaah Islamiah group - Abu Bakar Ba'aysir , the group's spiritual leader, and Riduan Isamuddin , also known as Hambali. On 12 October two bombs exploded in the Kuta tourist strip on the Indonesian island of Bali , Indonesia. One hits Paddy's Irish Bar, and the second exploded in a van outside the nearby Sari club.