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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Islamic groups warn of Indonesia violence
President Megawati
Megawati leads the most populous Muslim nation
By BBC Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin

Radical Islamic groups in Indonesia have warned they will attack American targets in the country if the United States takes military action against Afghanistan.

The warning comes as Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri prepares for talks with her US counterpart, George W Bush, in Washington on Wednesday.

As the leader of the world's largest Muslim country, Megawati is expected to come under particular pressure to support American plans to retaliate against Afghanistan for harbouring Osama Bin Laden.

Indonesian police outside US embassy
Police stepped up security at the US embassy immediately after last week's attack
Bin Laden has been named as the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks in Washington and New York.

A group of nine hard-line Islamic organisations gave the warning at a news conference in Jakarta just a few hours before President Megawati was due to meet Mr Bush.

They said they would be following the word of God if they fought back following any American military strikes against fellow Muslims or Islamic countries.

The leader of one of the groups had earlier told the BBC they would attack any American organisations, including businesses. He added they would also search for US citizens living in Indonesia.

Bin Laden links

These hardline groups only have a small following, but they are capable of provoking considerable violence and there are fears some may have links with Bin Laden's network.

Laskar Jihad members
Laskar Jihad movement in the Moluccas claims to have been helped by Bin Laden
But even leaders of the mainstream Muslim organisations, with tens of millions of followers, are concerned about the prospect of American military action in Afghanistan.

They believe this should only be done after first providing clear evidence that Bin Laden was responsible for last week's attacks in the US.

All this puts President Megawati in an extremely difficult position in her talks with President Bush.

He will be hoping for a clear statement of support from her for planned military operations in Afghanistan. It is particularly important for him to have moderate Muslim countries on his side.

He is also likely to press Megawati to clamp down on Islamic extremists in Indonesia.

Although she strongly condemned the recent attacks, it is not clear how much further she would be willing to go, especially as her coalition government includes a number of conservative Islamic parties.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Galpin reports from Jakarta
says the warning should be taken very seriously
See also:

17 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush seeks Muslim support
11 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Laskar Jihad?
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Islam: Faith under fire
23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Megawati Sukarnoputri
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