Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was founded in the late 1980s and has a strong militant presence in many Southeast Asian countries. JI has pursued its goal of establishing an Islamic state by attacking or plotting against U.S. and Western targets in Indonesia (the world's most populous Muslim country), Singapore, and the Philippines. Initially, the militants mostly abstained from violence. But JI shifted tactics in the late 1990s -- around the same time it is suspected to have first established contact with al Qaeda in Afghanistan -- launching attacks against both government and civilian targets.
Some of the most notorious assaults linked to the group include an assassination attempt against the Filipino ambassador to Indonesia in August 2000, a wave of church bombings in 38 locations in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, and a series of bombings around the subway in Manila, Philippines, in December 2000. In October 2002, JI orchestrated Indonesia's deadliest terrorist attack, detonating three bombs simultaneously in a nightclub district on the island of Bali that killed more than 200 people, many of them foreign tourists. These attacks -- and the group's suspected ties to bin Laden -- earned JI a spot on the United States' list of foreign terrorist organizations. Three years later, the organization carried out another string of deadly suicide bombings in Bali. A JI splinter group headed by Noordin Mohammad Top was suspected of orchestrating suicide bombings at luxury hotels in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, in July 2009, but Southeast Asian governments have recently arrested or taken out several leaders of JI and its offshoots, including Noordin, who was killed by Indonesian police in 2009.
Above, Abu Bakar Bashir, JI's alleged spiritual leader, smiles while arriving in court for a trial in Jakarta in May 2003. He was convicted of inciting terrorism in June 2011.
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