Jakarta: An Indonesian Islamic youth group has set up a unit to counter radicalism in Muslim communities and even help police defuse homemade bombs, its chairman said on Monday.
The Ansor youth group -- affiliated to the country`s largest Muslim organisation, the 60-million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) -- said the unit had more than 200 members, some of whom were trained in bomb disposal.
Group chairman Nurson Wahid said that members of the unit, known as Detachment 99 in a nod to the country`s counter-terrorism Detachment 88 squad, were also trained in preventing people from adopting extremism.
"The detachment 99 will not intervene... in law enforcement and in launching terror raids or arrest," he said.
Wahid said that the group would train more people and then deploy them to 17 regions considered to be vulnerable to extremist teachings, including several cities on Java island.
Security analyst Noor Huda Ismail, from the International Peace Building Institute, criticised the unit`s creation.
"It would be more effective for them to focus on the NU members who used to be devout, moderate Muslims but who have since become more radical," he was quoted by the Jakarta Globe newspaper as saying.
"Any attempt to use force to counter radicals could prove to be a losing prospect."
National police headquarters could not be reached for comment.
Most of Indonesia`s 200 million Muslims are moderates, but the country has struggled to deal with a radical fringe of extremists who have carried out numerous attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.