My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist

Joshua Kurlantzick writes:

In My Friend the Fanatic, Sadanand Dhume describes the way radical Islamists in Indonesia developed policies that combined social welfare with charismatic preaching. The number of Islamic boarding schools grew to accommodate families unable to afford the fees and bribes to teachers that were necessary to get a decent education. Islamic charities, many based in the Persian Gulf, also saw an opportunity, and increased their proselytising efforts in Indonesia. Militant preachers’ claims that following Islam would lead to prosperity appealed to urban yuppies. A small number of these Islamist groups formed terrorist networks, linking up with al-Qaida: the most prominent, Jemaah Islamiyah, launched a series of attacks across the archipelago in 2000. In 2002, its bombings of two bars on Bali killed more than 200 people; a year later, a bombing at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta killed 12.

(LRB 3 March 2011)