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Indonesia Tracks Hundreds Linked to Islamic State

FILE - Suspected militants Abdul Hakim (from left), Ahmad Junaedi and Tuah Febriwansyah attend trial at West Jakarta District Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 12, 2015.

Indonesia says it is monitoring at least 300 citizens who have returned to the country after leaving to join the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Wawan Purwanto, an expert at the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT), told VOA Tuesday that the aim of the surveillance is to anticipate terror threats.

"For our brothers and sisters who were just followers [of IS] – such as children, women who went with their husbands – no action has been taken against them," he said. "They’re only being questioned or interrogated a little bit. But others were arrested, their passports revoked, and interrogated for their involvement as front-line combatants."

So far, eight of the returnees have been arrested on suspicion of being in the IS militia, fighting on the front lines in Syria, he said.

Purwanto said authorities are conducting a special de-radicalization program for women who went with their husbands.

"We had several conversations with them and encouraged them to return to normal life and have more conversations. The means used for de-radicalization are by dialogue," he said.

In a separate development, the Center for Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis reported discovering a flow of $500,000 in funds from Australia, allegedly being used for funding terrorist acts in Indonesia.

Deputy chief Agus Santoso said the center received information on the funds from the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Center.

"In Australia, there is a network to raise money or donation," Santoso said, adding the funds were transferred to Indonesia and "distributed among those already in the network."

Jakarta banned IS last year, saying the radical group contradicts Indonesia’s pluralist state ideology, which is called Pancasila.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.