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The article discusses the recent incident involving a boarding school in southern Johor, Malaysia, where the school’s sign has been replaced with a blue board stating “No trespassing. Private property”. The school was originally set up by JI exiles, including the group’s founders Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Bashir who had fled from Indonesia. Noordin Muhammad Top, the suspected mastermind of the Jakarta hotel bombings in 2009, as well as another JI militant Mukhlas who was involved in the 2002 Bali bombings, once attended this school.

The school in Johor was modelled after JI boarding schools in Solo, Indonesia, and the surrounding Ulu Tiram community was known for its extremist views. Despite Malaysian authorities neutralizing violent elements within the JI community, concerns remain about the potential regeneration of violent elements from this community. Prof Ramakrishna mentioned ongoing probes of over 20 known JI members in Johor, indicating that police are closely monitoring the situation.

However, extremism expert Munira Mustaffa cautioned against assuming that this isolated incident represents broader JI activities in the region. She highlighted the weakened state of JI’s main nucleus in Indonesia and the necessity of understanding the suspect’s grievances and motivations before jumping to conclusions about a larger plot. So far, the suspect’s connection to JI has only been established through his father, and further investigation is needed to confirm any active JI cell in Johor.

Regarding the attack on the police station, Prof Ramakrishna noted that it seemed to be a rudimentary attack carried out by a lone actor attempting to steal a firearm. Asst Prof Ahmad El-Muhammady suggested that the suspect may have been inspired by similar attacks on police stations in Indonesia or triggered by external events such as the conflict in Gaza. He highlighted the enduring nature of extremist ideology even after the downfall of organizations like JI, emphasizing the continued propagation of these ideas among certain members.

In conclusion, while there are concerns about a possible resurgence of violent militancy in the community associated with the old Luqmanul Hakiem pesantren, further investigations are needed to determine the extent of this potential threat. Experts stress the importance of understanding the suspect’s motivations and connections before drawing conclusions about a broader plot involving JI. The incident underscores the ongoing challenge of countering extremist ideologies, which can persist even after the dismantling of terrorist organizations.

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