Accessibility links

Breaking News

Indonesia Probes IS Leader’s Contacts From Behind Bars

FILE - Indonesian military patrol in a small inflatable boat near a ferry boat dock on the prison island of Nusakambangan, in the background, in Central Java. March 3, 2015. Aman Abdurrahman is being held at Nusakambangan.

The Indonesian government says it is investigating how the imprisoned leader of the Islamic State group in Indonesia has been communicating with his followers from behind bars.

Aman Abdurrahman, who is serving a nine-year sentence for his involvement in terror activities, continues to lure prospective recruits into joining the group and is likely communicating with IS leaders in Syria, the government said in a statement.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s minister of security affairs, said the government also was investigating Abdurrahman’s communication pattern with Bahrum Naim, the alleged mastermind of the recent Jakarta blasts that killed seven.

According to Indonesian media, Naim has been in Raqqa, the IS stronghold in Syria, since early 2015.

Yasonna Laoly, Indonesia’s minister of law and human rights, said the communication between Abdurrahman and Naim was carried out through intermediaries.

Abdurrahman is being held at Nusakambangan, a maximum-security facility on an island in Central Java. Indonesian authorities say prisoners there have no access to the Internet.

An attorney who has been defending IS suspects, Mohamad Mahendratta, told VOA “there was no signal at all around the prison. Even the inmates could not communicate with each other.”

Mahendratta said he was not allowed to bring his cellphone when he visited his clients at the prison.

Maintaining blog?

But security analyst Harits Abu Ulya said there was evidence that Abdurrahman has been able to maintain a blog from inside the prison that includes news from abroad and the translation of articles that could be accessed only through the Internet.

Abdurrahman is an influential Salafi extremist scholar and Arabic linguist. His writings are available on his website. He has been in prison for his involvement in setting up a training camp for IS fighters in Aceh in the west of the country.

According to Indonesia media reports, Abdurrahman’s followers have been accused of involvement in several terror plots.

“The perpetrators shared a similar doctrine that has been widely preached by Aman,” National Police spokesperson Anton Charliyan told the Jakarta Post.

IS has shown signs of expanding in Indonesia. The group has been recruiting in the world’s largest majority Muslim nation. Hundreds of Indonesians have left the country to join the group in Syria, according to media reports.

The Indonesian government says it is pursuing a two-pronged policy of law enforcement operations and de-radicalization programs to curb IS’s influence, particularly on young people.

VOA’s Noor Zahid contributed to this report from Washington.