The Indonesian National Police on Friday announced the arrests of at least 15 suspected members of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah militant network, including a regional JAD leader who had allegedly funded operations to support groups aligned with Islamic State extremists.
The arrests during raids by the police’s elite counterterrorist unit Densus 88 in West Java province and Jakarta on Wednesday netted the largest number of militant suspects in a sweep since authorities rounded up some 60 JAD suspects in Medan, North Sumatra, after a suicide bombing there last November.
The 33-year-old regional JAD leader – who police identified only by his initials, K.I.A., and the aliases Abu Hanifah and Jack – was arrested in West Java along with other militants linked to the pro-IS groups JAD and the Eastern Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), National Police spokesman Awi Setiyono said.
“The suspected terrorists allegedly transferred funding and sent logistics to the JAD and MIT groups and assisted militant departures to Syria,” Awi told reporters during a teleconference.
Police alleged that K.I,A. held three militant training sessions between August and September 2019 in Bogor and Bekasi, West Java, and transferred an undetermined amount of money to finance JAD and the MIT group, which is led by Ali Kalora.
Kalora’s group allegedly attacked a group of police in March as they were transporting food supplies in the Central Sulawesi. Forced to flee, the police left behind their food and motorcycles.
Awi identified the 14 other suspects by their initials and ages only. Most were arrested for allegedly training with K.I.A. while one suspect allegedly assisted militants who had departed for Syria in 2015 to join Islamic State (IS).
In May 2018, the Indonesian parliament passed amendments to the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law after years of deliberations. The revision included provisions on the prevention of terror acts and gave the military a greater role in counterterrorism by legally defining terrorism as a “security disruption.”
Police officials noted that since June, Densus 88 had arrested 72 suspected terrorists in eight provinces – West Sumatra, Riau, DKI Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Bali and Central Sulawesi.
“The arrests were made in the context of a preventive strike against acts of terrorism in those regions,” Awi said.
JAD, the largest IS-affiliate in Indonesia, was founded by cleric Aman Abdurrahman and others in 2015. Aman was sentenced to death in 2018 for an attack two years earlier but has not been executed.
MIT was established around 2010 by Abu Wardah (alias Santoso), who was killed by security forces in July 2016. Since his death, MIT has lost strength as its membership fell to about a dozen. Despite that, the group is operating and seeking new members.
Meanwhile, a regional overview of IS operations in Southeast Asia that was published recently by the Combating Terrorism Center, a think-tank based at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, showed that the success rate of attacks by militants linked to the international terror group in Indonesia had declined since the security forces leveraged the counterterrorism law in 2018.
Between January 2014 and July 2019, there were 42 attacks carried by either exclusively IS cells or IS-affiliated group, meaning the attackers were not linked to any other local group and appeared to act directly on behalf of IS, according to the study released in July 2020.
“After steadily increasing from 2014 to 2017, the success rate (i.e., attacks that were not foiled or failed) of Islamic State-linked attacks declined across the region in 2019, dropping from a 79 [percent] attack success rate in the peak year, 2017, to 46 [percent] in 2019,” the report found.
“The declining success rate of attacks is indicative of sustained pressure on Islamic State-linked militants across the region: in the Philippines, core Islamic State-linked militants were decimated during the Battle of Marawi in 2017, while in Indonesia and Malaysia, security forces have leveraged new counterterrorism laws,” it said.