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Indonesia Frees 17 Citizens Deported from Turkey Over Alleged IS Links

Tia Asmara
Jakarta
2017-01-24
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Indonesians express solidarity against terrorism during a rally in Jakarta, Jan. 16, 2016.
Indonesians express solidarity against terrorism during a rally in Jakarta, Jan. 16, 2016.
AFP/Nur photo

Indonesian police Tuesday released 17 citizens who were deported from Turkey over suspected links to Islamic State, but said they would undergo “guidance training” because they were lured abroad by an IS recruiter in Syria.

The 17 were detained and placed into the custody of counter-terrorist police squad Densus 88, after their arrival in Jakarta aboard a Turkish Airlines flight over the weekend. The members of the group were “victims” of an IS recruiter of Indonesian origin whose initials are A.M, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Rikwanto told journalists in Jakarta.

The suspected recruiter who lives in Syria contacted these people by telephone and through social media, Rikwanto said.

“Now they have been freed and will be sent to a Social Service in Pondok Bambu to receive guidance training,” Rikwanto said, referring to a government center in Jakarta. He did not elaborate on the training.

“They were victims who had been lured by parties related to IS. They were told that they could live based on Islamic laws,” Rikwanto said. “They said they did not know there was a war there. In Turkey, they would be accommodated in a hidden apartment to later be smuggled to Syria.”

Rikwanto said the recruiter received money from IS leaders to enlist Indonesians willing to “jihad.”

“The donors are IS, through certain people including Indonesians. They then recruit Indonesians to be brought there,” he said.

The five men and five women believed to be spouses, along with three toddler girls and four boys were arrested by Indonesian immigration officers on Saturday shortly after arriving from Turkey at Sukarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. The immigration officers transferred the group to Densus 88 custody.

The 17 are from a wide range of Indonesian provinces including West Sumatra, South Sulawesi, East Java, Central Java, Banten and Jakarta, officials said.

Officials in Indonesia have long warned of a threat of IS recruiting its citizens for its cause in Syria and Iraq, and of the group influencing Indonesian supporters to plot terrorist attacks on home soil. In January 2016, IS claimed its first attack in Indonesia, a suicide mission carried out by four men in central Jakarta that left eight people, including all of the attackers, dead.

As of August 2016, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) reported that 237 adults and 46 children from Indonesia were in Syria, while 283 others were deported from several countries including Turkey.

Saudi-Indonesian cooperation

In other news related to terrorism, Saudi and Indonesian officials met in Saudi Arabia last week to discuss programs to de-radicalize and rehabilitate ex-terrorists, a spokesman for Indonesia’s foreign ministry confirmed to BenarNews.

“There is a commitment to improve cooperation, including efforts to suppress extremist and radical ideology,” spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said on Tuesday.

The two countries have cooperated in the past on counter-terrorism efforts, but the most recent meeting focused on improving bilateral cooperation involving de-radicalization programs, he said.

BNPT chief commander Gen. Suhardi Alius and other high-ranking BNPT officials visited Saudi Arabia from Jan. 11 to 16.

Costly?

Taufik Andrie, a terrorism analyst with the Jakarta-based Prasasti Perdamaian Foundation, said it would be difficult for Indonesia to implement Saudi Arabia’s de-radicalization techniques because of its high-cost approach.

“Over there, the infrastructure is already prepared. It is very developed because Saudi is a rich country. Incentives are given to the families of terrorists, school [for them] is guaranteed. In Indonesia, we still have limited funds,” he told BenarNews.

Taufik welcomed the Saudi invitation of Saudi Arabia.

“They understand well on the ideology of Salafi and Wahhabism. Our hope is to be able to apply it in Indonesia,” he added.

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