JAKARTA, INDONESIA - A former member of the Jemaah Islamiah militant group says Islamic State leaders are calling for vengeance over Jakarta's recent killing of Indonesia's most wanted Islamist extremist.
Indonesian security officials on Tuesday confirmed that Santoso, also known as "Abu Wardah," died in a gunbattle with police on Monday. Santoso's body was positively identified after he and another militant were slain in the Poso region of the eastern island of Sulawesi, where police and military forces have been waging an intense manhunt for him for five years.
In an interview with VOA's Indonesia service, Ali Fauzi Manzi, a self-described deradicalized former militant, said Santoso's followers posted the Islamic State (IS) fatwa commanding retaliation on their Indonesian-language Facebook page. According to Ali, the edict was submitted by Syrian-based IS spokesman Syech Muhammad Al Adnani, shortly after the announcement of Santoso's death.
A former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Filipino secessionist group based in Mindanao, Ali says both Philippines- and Indonesia-based radicals may be planning strikes on soft targets across the archipelago.
“Certainly the target of the group is the police and the military, because of their anti-terror operation [in Poso]," he said. "Also, because its members are not only in Poso ... there’s a possibility their members in Java would also retaliate. Members of Santoso group, such as Basri and Alika Lora, still exist, so I think there’d be indiscriminate attacks by the group in various areas.”
"Of most importance [right now] is being on alert," he told VOA, adding that "many of the Santoso group [members also] tweeted the latest fatwa."
The younger brother of two perpetrators of the 2002 Bali suicide bombing, Ali was arrested by the Philippines police and extradited to Indonesia in 2006, where, Indonesian officials say, he was deradicalized before joining Jakarta's Crisis Management Committee as an instructor for military counterinsurgency training in the Ambon and Poso regions.
Since 2009, he has served as a weapons and terrorism analyst for the Indonesian government. He is also a lecturer at an Islamic academy in Lamongan East Java, and serves as a guest lecturer in several universities in Indonesia.
His brother, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, was executed in 2008 for perpetrating the 2002 bombing. His other brother, Ali Imron, is serving a life sentence for the same crime.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Indonesia service.