Anti-communist sentiment in Indonesia has a long history, but the failed attack cast a spotlight on
anti-China sentiment. This shares ingredients with jihadist sentiment against the United States, seen as the “far enemy” since the 1990s after it installed military bases in Saudi Arabia. The
recent attempted attack in Indonesia represents a larger trend in which China may also become a “far enemy” for jihadist groups.
The concept of “far” and “near” enemies was posited by Egyptian ideologue Mohammed al Faraj, who argued that jihadist groups should focus on repressive regimes in their own countries, mostly in the Middle East, instead of attacking the US. He classified America as the “far enemy” for interfering in Middle East domestic policies and across the broader Muslim world, exploiting resources and creating conflict and strife, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.