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Indonesian Islamic State Sympathizer Receives 4-Year Prison Sentence

Zahara Tiba
Jakarta
2018-05-22
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Defendant Iman Santoso shakes hands with his lawyer at the West Jakarta District Court after receiving a four-year prison sentence, May 22, 2018.
Defendant Iman Santoso shakes hands with his lawyer at the West Jakarta District Court after receiving a four-year prison sentence, May 22, 2018.
Imam Maliq/BenarNews

A West Jakarta district court sentenced an Islamic State (IS) sympathizer Tuesday to four years in prison after finding him guilty of influencing, recruiting and facilitating the travel to Syria of the militant group’s supporters.

After hearing the verdict, Iman Santoso smiled, shook hands with the judges, the court clerk and his lawyer, and said he was delighted to receive a relatively light prison sentence.

“The defendant Iman Santoso (alias Abu Umar bin Kosasih Bakri), has been proven legitimately and convincingly guilty of committing a crime of terrorism,” said the presiding judge, Sarjiman, who uses only one name.

Along with the sentence, the court ordered Iman to pay a fine of 50 million rupiah (about U.S. $3,540), with a provision that if he fails to pay, he will be required to serve an extra four months behind bars.

The verdict was lighter than the seven-year prison term sought by prosecutors.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation of 262 million people, has imprisoned hundreds of suspected extremists since bombings killed 202 people and injured hundreds more on Bali island 16 years ago.

Influencing family members

Iman had influenced the decision of his brother-in-law Dwi Djoko Wiwoho, 50, to leave Indonesia with his family in 2015 to join IS in Syria, according to court documents. Prosecutors said they believe Iman also facilitated the travel.

Djoko, a former high-ranking civil servant from Batam, an Indonesian island about 12 miles (18 km) from Singapore, went to Syria with his wife, their three children, his mother-in-law who died in Syria from an illness, his other brother-in-law, Heru Kurnia, and Iman.

The family linked up with 19 other people who also left for Syria on Aug. 1, 2015, prosecutors said.

Djoko and his family were among 18 Indonesians who turned up at a refugee camp near Raqqa in June 2017, telling reporters they had been enticed to Syria two years earlier by the promise of a prosperous life with the IS.

The 18 were sent back to Indonesia in August 2017 and attended a rehabilitation program organized by the Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

Djoko and Heru Kurnia face similar charges in separate ongoing trials in the same courthouse.

During his hearing in March, prosecutors alleged that Djoko trained with IS fighters in Syria and accused him of having a role in funding the international militant group.

“The defendant sold his house on July 2015 for 500 million rupiah (U.S. $36,372) and used part of that money to go to Syria,” prosecutor Jaya Siahaan said at that time.

“After five days, the defendant stopped training because he didn’t want to be a soldier and only wanted to be a regular civilian who supports IS,” the prosecutor said. “But the defendant’s action violated the anti-terrorism law.”

Djoko could face life in prison if convicted.

Spate of IS-inspired attacks

Iman’s sentencing took place days after a spate of IS-inspired militant attacks in West Java and East Java killed 45 people, including 27 suspects.

Those attacks, between May 8 and May 16, included suicide bombings carried out by three families, accompanied by their young children who targeted churches and police in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.

Iman received a lighter verdict for good behavior during his detention and after repenting, prosecutors said.

“The important thing is you, brother, really repent and will not repeat your wrongdoing,” Sarjiman said.

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