Alleged IS Leader from Indonesia Appears in Another Propaganda Video

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata
160128-propaganda-620 Bahrumsyah, an Indonesian also known as Abu Muhammad al-Indonesi, is pictured in a screenshot taken from an online IS propaganda video, Jan. 27, 2016.

The Indonesian government has yet to block an Islamic State video that was posted online five months ago and features a citizen suspected of being one of the top IS figures from Indonesia.

The man in the video, Bahrumsyah (also known as Abu Muhammad al-Indonesi), has appeared in other pro-IS videos, including one disseminated online in August 2014 that prompted a governmental ban on the Middle Eastern-based extremist group.

As of Wednesday the latest video was still accessible via Google Drive and, according to Indonesian news outlets, appeared online this past August.

Earlier this week, Indonesia’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology said it had blocked 24 websites disseminating content deemed as promoting radicalism, but not the latest Bahrumsyah video because it was awaiting instructions from police.

“We will block the video based on the police request. So far we don’t have such a request,” ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu told BenarNews on Wednesday.

The 10-minute, 32-second video was produced and released by al-Hayat, IS’s media wing.

The video shows a clean-shaven Bahrumsyah (pictured) wearing combat fatigues as he speaks to the camera. It also features images of him giving orders to an all-male crowd and dozens taking part in military training at a camp somewhere in Syria, according to experts.

In earlier videos, Bahrumsyah wore a mustache and goatee. Last year, he appeared in an IS propaganda video that showed young boys – including under 10 years old – undergoing military training and indoctrination at a camp.

Who is Bahrumsyah?

The Syria-based Bahrumsyah is one of three Indonesians who have taken on leadership roles within IS, police said.

The other two are Abu Jandal (alias Salim Mubarok Attamimi) and Bahrun Naim, who, according to police, masterminded an IS-claimed attack in Jakarta that killed eight people, including the four men suspected of carrying it out.

All three men are associated with Katibah Nusantara, an IS combat unit whose ranks are made up exclusively of fighters recruited from across the Malay Archipelago.

Bahrumsyah’s name came to light in August 2014, when he appeared in the first IS video.

In the Indonesian-language video, he wore a black turban and outfit and called on his fellow Indonesians to join IS. Five months earlier, he had been seen taking part in a rally at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in downtown Jakarta, where a number of groups pledged their allegiance to IS.

Born in Bogor, West Java, on July 25, 1984, Bahrumsyah studied at the Syarief Hidayatullah Islamic State University in Ciputat, on Jakarta’s southern outskirts. Campus records show he spent three semesters there, but he dropped out in 2004.

Bahrumsyah is now one of main recruiters for Indonesians who hope to join IS, and he also serves as a point of contact between IS in Raqqah, Syria, and the group’s followers in Indonesia, said Ridlwan Habib, a researcher at the Indonesia Intelligence Institute.

According to information provided by police, 384 Indonesians have gone to Syria or Iraq to join IS, whereas information released by intelligence sources puts that number at more than 800.

Money man?

Last week, National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti told journalists that Bahrumsyah was involved last year in plots by radicals to launch terrorist attacks on Indonesian soil.

According to information obtained through the interrogation of a suspect arrested after the Jan. 14 attack, Bahrsumsyah in 2015 wired Rp. 1 billion (U.S. $72,200) to this suspect, who was supposed to use the cash to buy weapons in the Philippines.

Police said they are trying to determine whether any of the money sent by Bahrumsyah was used to finance the attacks. Earlier, police said that Bahrun Naim had financed the operation through money wired to Indonesia from Syria via Western Union.

Competition with Abu Jandal

According to Ridlwan, Bahrumsyah is involved in a power struggle among the leadership of Katibah Nusantara, particularly with Abu Jandal.

Both men have clashed, he said, over their respective interpretations of the meaning of “good.”

“What is good for them is evil for us,” Ridlwan told BenarNews.

IS’s top brass demoted Abu Jandal after he appeared without their approval in a video in 2014, in which he challenged and threatened the heads of the Indonesian Armed Forces, national police and Densus 88, the police’s elite counter-terrorist unit, Ridlwan said.

In that video, Jandal threatened to “slaughter … one by one” those who opposed the idea of instituting Sharia law in Indonesia nationwide.

A man who hails from Lamongan, East Java, and is known as Siswanto occupies Abu Jandal’s role, Ridlwan said.

Siswanto was a student of Aman Abdurrahman, a militant who was jailed in 2004 for assembling explosives.


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