US embassy cable - 94STATE328961

RADICAL ISLAM IN BRUNEI

Identifier: 94STATE328961
Wikileaks: View 94STATE328961 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 1994-12-10 02:10:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL KISL PTER BX
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 100210Z DEC 94
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 
INFO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
USCINCPAC HONOLULU
C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 328961 
 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, KISL, PTER, BX 
SUBJECT:  RADICAL ISLAM IN BRUNEI 
 
REF:  BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 1085 

1.  CONFIDENTIAL NOFORN - ENTIRE TEXT. 

2.  REFTEL REFERRED TO A RECENT ARTICLE IN U.S. NEWS AND 
WORLD REPORT CLAIMING RADICAL ISLAMIC GROUPS EXIST IN 
BRUNEI AND REQUESTING INFORMATION FROM WASHINGTON AGENCIES 
ON THE MATTER.  WASHINGTON AGENCIES HAVE PROVIDED THE 
FOLLOWING INFORMATION: 

3.  OUR FILES INDICATE THE ONLY ISLAMIC ACTIVIST ELEMENTS 
CURRENTLY OPERATING IN BRUNEI ARE THE SEVERAL DOZEN 
MEMBERS OF THE AL ARQAM MOVEMENT, OFFICIALLY BANNED IN 
1991 BUT NONETHELESS TOLERATED. 

4.  A CONFIDENTIAL RAND CORPORATION STUDY OF 1987 
IDENTIFIED TWO ISLAMIC DAKWAH (MISSIONARY) MOVEMENTS THEN 
ACTIVE IN BRUNEI:  THE TABLIGH MOVEMENT AND A GROUP 
IDENTIFIED AS THE BRUNEI KORAN READING. 

5.  NO INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON WHETHER THE BRUNEI 
KORAN READING STILL EXISTS.  THE LOOSELY-ORGANIZED TABLIGH 
MOVEMENT--WHICH ORIGINATED IN INDIA IN THE 1950S AND 
REACHED SOUTHEAST ASIA VIA MALAYSIA IN THE 1970S--HAS 
ADHERENTS THROUGHOUT SOUTHEAST ASIA.  TABLIGH CAMPAIGNS 
ARE TYPICALLY ORGANIZED BY LOCAL MUSLIM LEADERS OR PATRONS 
AND CONSIST OF GROUPS WHICH TRAVEL TO URBAN OR RURAL AREAS 
TO PRESENT LECTURES AND ENGAGE IN OTHER MISSIONARY 
ACTIVITIES THAT EMPHASIZE INDIVIDUAL PIETY AND INNER 
SPIRITUAL STRENGTH.  THE TABLIGH CAMPAIGNS IN MALAYSIA, 
FOR EXAMPLE, DRAW ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY YOUNG MEN WHO FUND 
THEIR OWN PARTICIPATION.  LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE NOT 
VIEWED THE TABLIGH AS A "RADICAL ISLAMIC ELEMENT," 
ALTHOUGH THE RADICAL ABU SAYYAF GROUP IN THE SOUTHERN 
PHILIPPINES MAY HAVE GROWN OUT OF A TABLIGH CHAPTER. 

6.  ANECDOTAL REPORTING FROM A WIDE VARIETY OF SOURCES 
INDICATES THAT THERE IS CONSIDERABLE TRAVEL BY MUSLIM 
FIGURES BETWEEN SOUTHEAST ASIA, SOUTH ASIA, AND THE MIDDLE 
EAST.  THOUSANDS OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN MUSLIMS ATTEND 
UNIVERSITIES IN MIDDLE EASTERN NATIONS--ON OCCASION 
DEFYING GOVERNMENT BANS ON TRAVEL TO PARIAH NATIONS SUCH 
AS IRAN, IRAQ, AND SYRIA IN ORDER TO DO SO.  WE HAVE NO 
STATISTICS ON BRUNEI CITIZENS WHO MAY BE STUDYING IN 
MUSLIM COUNTRIES ABROAD.  THERE IS ALSO SIGNIFICANT 
EXCHANGE AT THE NONGOVERNMENTAL LEVEL BETWEEN SOUTHEAST 
ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN/SOUTH ASIAN ISLAMIC ACADEMIC, 
COMMUNITY AND OTHER OPINION LEADERS.  REPORTING ON THE 
ACTIVITIES OF THESE INDIVIDUALS IS FRAGMENTARY AND ITS 
IMPACT ON LOCAL MUSLIM GROUPS IS DIFFICULT TO ASSESS AT 
THIS TIME.  THE POTENTIAL EXISTS, HOWEVER, THAT THIS 
CONTACT COULD BE A CHANNEL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF 
UNDERGROUND RADICAL ISLAMIC MOVEMENTS. 

7.  WE ARE CHECKING ON THE MEDIA CLAIMS THAT MEMBERS OF 
THE IRANIAN DELEGATION THAT VISITED SOUTHEAST ASIA IN 
OCTOBER INCLUDED TWO SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE IRANIAN 
INTELLIGENCE APPARATUS, AND WILL PASS ALONG THE RESULTS OF 
OUR RESEARCH WHEN COMPLETE. 
 
 
TALBOTT 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04