Indonesian Security Forces Kill Islamic State-Linked Group’s Elusive Top Man

Keisyah Aprilia
Palu, Indonesia
2021-09-18
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Indonesian Security Forces Kill Islamic State-Linked Group’s Elusive Top Man An old poster is seen of suspected Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen militants wanted by the authorities; Ali Kalora is pictured top left.
[Keisyah Aprilia/BenarNews]

Indonesian security forces on Saturday said they shot dead a man believed to be an Islamic State-linked militant group’s leader, reducing the outfit to four people.

Two bodies, believed to be of Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) leader Ali Kalora and one of his followers, are yet to be recovered from the jungles of the mountainous Parigi Moutong regency in Central Sulawesi province, said Brig. Gen. Farid Makruf.

“There was an exchange of gunfire and two terrorists were killed,” Farid, the deputy chief of an operation to hunt down MIT suspects, told BenarNews.

 “[They] are suspected to be Ali and Jaka,” he said, referring to the other militant suspect Jaka Ramadan.

The operation to hunt MIT suspects, codenamed Madago Raya, conducts regular patrols in Parigi Moutong and surrounding areas.

Still, the militant outfit in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country has been a thorn in the side of security forces despite its reduced numbers from a high of 40 in its early years. MIT has survived in the mountains and jungles of the province of Central Sulawesi, terrain the group knows well.

The province’s Poso regency – that abuts Parigi Moutong – has long been a hotbed of MIT activity, and is an area that security forces find difficult to penetrate, Inspector Gen. Imam Sugianto, the national police deputy for operations, told BenarNews late last year.

MIT’s insurgency in the country’s Sulawesi region has its roots in a bloody Muslim-Christian conflict at the turn of the century, which left more than 1,000 people dead between 1998 and 2001.

 The outfit pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014. MIT’s now-dead founder Santoso was the first Indonesian militant to pledge allegiance to IS publicly.

MIT has claimed responsibility for killing many police officers and minority Christians. In May, members of the group killed four farmers in Central Sulawesi. And in November last year, they killed four villagers living in a Christian community in Sigi regency near Poso.

The group is one of two pro-Islamic State groups operating in Indonesia. The other is Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which authorities have blamed for terror attacks in the archipelago nation during the past five years.

In May, police said MIT had split into two groups in an attempt to elude authorities, with one group led by Kalora, active in Sigi regency, and the other under the leadership of Muhammad Busra, or Qatar, operating in Poso.

Qatar was killed in a security raid in Central Sulawesi province in July, and with Kalora’s supposed death, MIT appears to be on its last legs.

Earlier this year, Farid said Ali and his followers wanted to turn themselves in to the authorities but feared reprisals after the faction led by Qatar threatened to kill their families.

Farid said intelligence suggested that Ali and Qatar had been at odds since the death of Santoso, who was killed by security forces in 2016.

Kalora had eluded capture for more than a decade, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing Madago Raya deputy chief Farid.

“Ali Kalora was the most wanted terrorist and leader of MIT,” Farid said.

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