Former terrorist now a comic book hero

Captain Jihad

The story of the soft-spoken, seemingly mild-mannered 42-year-old — recognised by strangers on the streets and even asked for the occasional autograph — is well-known in the world’s most populous Muslim country. He went from helping Muslim militants who carried out some of Southeast Asia’s deadliest attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings, to informing police about the inner-workings of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network.

Now, he has joined a government program to convince convicted terrorists that killing civilians is wrong. “I want children to learn from my experience,” Abas said of the colourful 137-page comic “I Found the Meaning of Jihad,” which appears in bookstores on Friday.
Indonesia, hit by a string of blasts has been praised for its anti-terror fight. The government, through the use of paid informants and former militants has rounded 680 Islamic militants, trying and convicting many of them. Abas, a Malaysian who now lives in Jakarta with his family, has been one of its success stories.

Kids at an an elementary school squealed when shown a copy of the book and called out to their friends, who eagerly huddled around and flipped through the lively, glossy pages. “Ohhhh. That’s gotta be Osama,” said 10-year-old Anif Ahmad Aulia, pointing at a picture of a white-bearded cleric.

“Ya, he’s evil,” chimed in Qinthara Taqiyyah, a fifth grade girl.

“Is that the hero?” another says, pointing at Abas.

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