Free Aceh Movement (GAM)


    Table of contents
    1. 1. Overview
    2. 2. Structure
    3. 3. Funding
    4. 4. Tactics
    5. 5. Website
    6. 6. Gallery
    7. 7. References


    gam flag.gif

    The flag of the Free Aceh Movement

    Status: Active
    AKA: Aceh Merdeka (AM), Aceh Security Disturbance Movement, Aceh-Sumatra National Liberation Front” (ASNLF), Gerakan Pengacau Keamanan (GPK), Gerakan Aceh Merdeka
    Formed: 1975
    Areas of Operation: Indonesia; Sumatra
    Ideology: Religious (Islamist – Sunni)
    Leaders: Malik Mahmud
    Zaini Abdullah
    Affiliates: Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF), Majles Pemerintahan GAM , Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO)


    Members of Free Aceh Movement (GAM) operate a secessionist movement demanding independence for the Aceh province of Indonesia in order to set up an independent Islamic nation. They hold resentment against the large number of Javanese settlers in Aceh profiting from the industrial boom caused by recent discovery of natural gas.

    In its early stage, GAM tried to promote an international profile by attacking a major natural gas field where the government in Jakarta siphoned off about $4 billion a year in natural gas revenues and neglected to invest more than one percent of that in develop¬ment aid. Most of the GAM activities have been confined to small-scale harassment of security forces. The late 1970s and the early 1990s were the most violent periods during the conflict. In the 1980s, 2,000 young Acehnese were secretly trained in Libya. When they returned to their homeland, violence escalated. In recent years the Indonesian security forces have had to increase their forces to fight the guerrillas, although some soldiers have converted to the guerilla group after being promised higher salaries. Since the early 1990s, the GAM has been subjected to severe repression by Indonesia’s elite forces. Military operations have resulted in a wave of torture, disappearances, and summary executions. A commission of inquiry has found evidence to prosecute a number of high-ranking military officers for human rights abuses during the campaign against the Acehnese. Ex-President Wahid indicated that he was prepared to offer Aceh 75 percent of the oil revenue to calm the separatist issue. Both sides in the conflict have accepted a small private organization in Geneva, the Henri Dunant Centre, as a mediator. However, the GAM has signed a peace deal with the Indonesian government in August 2005. The government withdrew about half of their troops from Aceh by the end of September 2005, and the rebels fully decommissioned their weapons.

    Partai Aceh is the political party formed by the remnants of the GAM during post-tsunami peace talks. However, speculation from the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian military - TNI) indicates that the GAM has not fully dissolved. Instead, it is believed that the group only changed its tactics in addition to adding a new legitimate political face.[1] 


    Prior to disarmament, the organization was hierarchical. The majority of leadership was in exile in Sweden and was made-up of several cabinets and ministries. Most of the mid-level leaders and fighting force, made up of Aceh Movement guerillas and ex-government soldiers, were located in Aceh and were separated into civilian and military wings.[2]


    GAM has considerable support from the orthodox Islamic population, as well as from personal cannabis production. As far as global support, many guerillas received training and support in Libya during the 1980s. GAM also chaired the Libyan-based World Mathaba, which is a Libyan government agency charged with coordinating liberation movements throughout Southeast Asia.  


    GAM attacks were largely focused on Indonesian security personnel, however the group has also directly targeted civilian groups and infrastructure opposed to its activities.


    gam pose.jpg

    GAM rebels by their flag.[3]

    gam di tiro.jpg

    GAM founder and leader Hasan di Tiro died of natural causes in 2010.[4]

    gam rally.jpg

    GAM has attempted to legitimize itself by entering Indonesia's political process, through the Aceh Party.[5]

    gam leaders.jpg

    GAM leader Malik Mahmud (left) and chief negotiator Zaini Abdullah (right)[6]

    gam march.jpg

    Armed GAM militants travelling on foot in Aceh[7]

    gam parade.jpg

    Aceh Party supporters at a march in 2009[8]


    1. International Crisis Group. (2009, March 23). Indonesia: Deep distrust in Aceh as elections approach (Asia Briefing No. 90).
    2. The Graduate Institute - Geneva. (2008). Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Transnational and Non-State Armed Groups (NSAG). Retrieved from [1]
    3. AFP. (2005, August 29). Retrieved from [2]
    4. Harva, T. (2008, October 14). Reuters. Retrieved from [3]
    5. Antara. (n.d.) Retrieved from [4]
    6. Yamanaka, T. (n.d.). Getty. Retrieved from [5]
    7. Creative Commons. (n.d.). Retrieved from [6]
    8. Simanjuntak, H. (2009). The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from [7]

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