News / Asia

    Indonesia Clamps Down on ISIS Support, ‘Alumni’ Jihadi Threat

    FILE - Members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shout slogan during a demontration in Jakarta, Indonesia.
    FILE - Members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shout slogan during a demontration in Jakarta, Indonesia.
    Kate Lamb

    As the jihadist insurgency in Syria and Iraq intensifies, so too does its appeal to hardline Islamists in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. In Jakarta, the Indonesian government has moved swiftly to crack down on the possibility of a revived terrorist threat.

    On the streets of Jakarta and across pockets of Java, small groups of hardline extremists have openly pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group. Thousands more have mimicked their cries on social networking sites. 

    From maximum-security prison, hardline preacher Abu Bakar Ba’asyir also pledged an oath to the newly declared Islamic caliphate, photos of which have circulated online.

    The Indonesian government has moved to swiftly crack down on the developments, earlier this month officially banning the group and the spread of its teachings.

    The government says the hardline group formerly known as the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS) contradicts Indonesia’s pluralist state ideology Pancasila, and that it will block websites displaying its content.

    Sri Yunanto, from Indonesia’s national counterterrorism agency, told a panel discussion on Wednesday that it is stepping up efforts to curb the threat of Indonesian fighters returning from Syria, what he described as the jihadi “alumni.” “We have to be prepared, when the issue of ISIS in the Middle East is over and then they come back into Indonesia. We have experience with Afghan fighters, Moro Fighters, we don’t want ISIS alumni in Indonesia and Iran to be like them,” said Yunanto.

    Key individuals behind major terrorist attacks in Indonesia, such as the 2002 Bali bombings, received direct training with MILF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines, and in Afghanistan in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Over the past decade Indonesia has successfully dismantled hardline groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah, and most senior hardliners have either been killed or incarcerated.

    For would-be Indonesian jihadis, the Syrian conflict represents an appealing training ground, one where they can gain weapons and bomb-making skills and develop contacts with a well-funded terrorist group.

    Taufik Andrie, the executive director of the Institute of International Peace Building, says that in Indonesia’s current terrorism landscape, it is the splinter or “freelance” jihadists that pose the biggest threat.

    “Mostly Indonesian jihadis are driven by individual motivations, not necessarily by group’s or leaders’ comments. They have enough information from the internet, from Facebook and Twitter and that’s enough for them to decide… Freelance jihadi, individuals, it is just a matter of money,” said Andrie.

    The government believes that up to 30 Indonesians have joined the Islamic State in Syria, but analysts say the figure could be as high as 200.

    Porous borders and poor coordination between agencies and ministries has allowed some individuals to buy tickets to Turkey and then cross the border into Syria undetected.

    Even though the numbers of Indonesian fighters joining the conflict in Syria are small, Todd Elliott, a Jakarta-based terrorism analyst from Concorde Consulting, said returned jihadis pose a significant security risk in the long term.

    “I don't think there is an immediate threat of jihadists returning and immediately using any skills they have to launch a terrorist attack, but the fact that they have skills and they're available and they can pass them on to younger jihadists and other groups, that's where the risk lies,” said Elliott.

    Indonesian authorities have threatened to revoke the citizenship of individuals who continue to support the Islamic State and say they will better monitor their citizens traveling to the Middle East in the near future.  

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: goh koonwah from: singapore
    August 16, 2014 10:42 AM
    Just share a few words:When the leaders of the most populated nations get United and guided by win-win principles there might be less troubles cropping up. More people may find the ways to control their enemy within and and the enemy without,the devil or satan could find less workshop leaving more rooms to produce food for the poor and rich instead of manufacturing weapon for wars !

    by: Fran Manns from: Toronto, Canada
    August 14, 2014 1:14 PM
    It has been easy to recruit terrorists because they see they have nothing to lose. I believe the great analysis of Eric Hoffer in "The True Believer", that mass movements of believers come from the losers, the disenchanted, the people who are defeated and looking for a cause. Once they begin to march, their critical thinking process is interrupted and tragedy ensues.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.