JI has its roots in Darul Islam (DI, meaning "House of Islam"), a radical Islamist/anti-colonialist movement in Indonesia in the 1940s.
The JI was established as a loose confederation of several Islamic groups. Sometime around 1969, three men, Abu Bakar Bashir, Abdullah Sungkar and Shahrul Nizam 'PD' began an operation to propagate the Darul Islam movement, a conservative strain of Islam.
Bashir and Sungkar were both imprisoned by the New Order administration of Indonesian president Suharto as part of a crackdown on radical groups such as Komando Jihad, that were perceived to undermine the government's control over the Indonesian population. The two leaders spent several years in prison. After release, Bashir and his followers moved to Malaysia in 1982. They recruited people from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. The group officially named itself Jemaah Islamiah around that time period.
JI's violent operations began during the communal conflicts in Maluku and Poso. It shifted its attention to targeting US and Western interests in Indonesia and the wider Southeast Asian region since the start of the US-led war on terror. JI's terror plans in Southeast Asia were exposed when its plot to set off several bombs in Singapore was foiled by the local authorities.
Bashir became the spiritual leader of the group while Hambali became the military leader. Unlike the Al-Mau'nah group, Jemaah Islamiah kept a low profile in Malaysia and their existence was publicized only after the 2002 Bali bombings.
Designation as terrorist group
Jemaah Islamiyah has been designated a terrorist group by the following countries and international organizations:
Indonesian investigators revealed the JI's establishment of a hit squad in April 2007, which was established to target top leaders who oppose the group's objectives, as well as other officials, including police officers, government prosecutors and judges handling terrorism-related cases.
In April 2008, the South Jakarta District Court declared JI an illegal organisation when sentencing former leader Zarkasih and military commander Abu Dujana to 15 years on terrorism charges.
In 2010 Indonesian authorities cracked down on the Jemaah Islamiah network in Aceh. Between February and May 2010, more than 60 militants were captured. This Aceh network was established by Dulmatin sometime after 2007 when he returned to Indonesia.
Jemaah Islamiyah's name roughly translates to "Islamic Community" in English and is abbreviated as JI. To counter recruitment efforts by the group, Islamic scholars in Indonesia and the Philippines who were critical of the group called for the group to be called Jemaah Munafiq (JM) instead which translates as "Hypocrites' Community".
12 March 2000, 3 JI members were arrested in Manila carrying plastic explosives in their luggage. One of them is later jailed for 17 years.
1 August 2000, Jemaah Islamiah assassinated the Philippine ambassador to Indonesia, Leonides Caday. The bomb detonated as his car entered his official residence in central Jakarta killing two people and injuring 21 others, including the ambassador.
13 September 2000, a car bomb explosion tore through a packed parking deck beneath the Jakarta Stock Exchange building killing 15 people and injuring 20.
30 December 2000, a series of bombings that occurred around Metro Manila in the Philippines, 22 died and over a hundred were injured. In the following years, several members of the Jemaah Islamiah for their suspected involvement in the bombings.
5 June 2002, Indonesian authorities arrest Kuwaiti Omar al-Faruq. Handed over to the US authorities, he subsequently confesses he is a senior al-Qaeda operative sent to Southeast Asia to orchestrate attacks against U.S. interests. He reveals to investigators detailed plans of a new terror spree in Southeast Asia.
After many warnings by U.S. authorities of a credible terrorist threat in Jakarta, on 23 September 2002, a grenade explodes in a car near the residence of a U.S. embassy official in Jakarta, killing one of the attackers.
2 October 2002, a US Soldier and two Filipinos are killed in a JI nail-bomb attack outside a bar in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga.
10 October 2002, a bomb rips through a bus terminal in the southern Philippine city of Kidapawan, killing six people and injuring twenty-four. On the same day The U.S. ambassador in Jakarta, Ralph Boyce, personally delivers to the Indonesian President a message of growing concern that Americans could become targets of terrorist actions in her country.
12 October 2002, on the second anniversary of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, a huge car bomb kills more than 202 and injures 300 on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Most are foreigners, mainly Australian tourists. It is preceded by a blast at the US consulate in nearby Denpasar. The attack known as the 2002 Bali Bombing is the most deadly attack executed by JI to date.
Bashir was arrested by the Indonesian police and was given a light sentence for treason.
Hambali was arrested in Thailand on 11 August 2003, and is currently in prison in Jordan, according to Haaretz.
A British-born Australian named Jack Roche confessed to being part of a JI plot to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra, Australia on 28 May 2004. He was sentenced to 9 years in prison on 31 May. The man admitted to meeting figures like Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
JI are widely suspected of being responsible for the bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta on 9 September 2004, which killed 11 Indonesians and wounded over 160 more.
17 July 2009, Jemaah Islamiah blamed for attacks on the Ritz Carlton Jakarta and the J.W. Marriott hotels in Jakarta.
17 September 2009, Noordin Top was killed in a raid by Indonesian police in Solo, Central Java. Top was a recruiter, bomb maker, and explosions expert for Jemaah Islamiyah. However, later on his colleagues in Jemaah Islamiah claimed that Noordin had formed his own splinter cell which was even more violent and militant. He was for a while dubbed the "most wanted Islamic militant in South East Asia".
13 December 2010, Indonesian police charged Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah, with involvement in plans of terror and military training in Aceh province. The charge against him of inciting others to commit terrorism carries the death penalty.
January 2012, the Philippine military announced that it had killed two key leaders of Jemiah Islamiah, a Malaysian called Zulkifli bin Hir (aka Marwan) and Mohammad Ali (aka Muawiyah). Senior intelligence sources later stated that Hir and Ali survived the air strike. Reports of Bin Hir's death were again retracted in 2014.