Update COVID-19 in Indonesia: 228,993 confirmed infections, 9,100 deaths (16 September 2020)
18 September 2020 (closed)
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Sutiyoso, Director of Indonesia's State Intelligence Agency (BIN), said authorities will closely monitor those Indonesians that return home after having joined the militant Islamic State in Syria. It is estimated that more than 100 Indonesians have traveled back to the Archipelago from Syria after having fought alongside the militant organization. Meanwhile, Indonesian policy is investigating a video that has been circulating on social media. This video displays a local terrorist group threatening to attack Indonesia's State Palace and Jakarta Policy headquarters.
There is the risk that Indonesian returnees will try to recruit new members for the Islamic State by offering attractive income. As an example, in Indonesian media it was reported that a motorcycle taxi driver was offered a monthly wage of IDR 52 million (approx. USD $3,800) if he would join the militant organization. Such a high wage (especially for Indonesian standards) would make it very attractive for the tens of millions of Indonesians who live below or just above the poverty line to join the fight, not for ideological reasons but for the lucrative payment. There have also been reports in media about Indonesian fighters coming back to Indonesia because they did not receive the lucrative wage as had been promised before traveling to Syria.
Still, the "economic approach" is a very effective recruitment tool, especially in a country plagued by poverty. Currently, there are 28.59 million people living below the poverty line in Indonesia (March 2015 data), or equivalent to 11.22 percent of the total Indonesian population, according to the latest data from the nation's Statistics Agency (BPS).
BIN Director Sutiyoso, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, advises the Indonesian public to deal carefully and rationally with returnees from Syria, and insists on the importance to aid BIN when people have information regarding possible threats to public security.
The video that has been circulating on social media, featuring a still picture of fugitive terrorist Santoso and an audio track warning that the "black flag of Islamic State will fly into the State Palace's sky" is being studied by Indonesian police. Santoso is leader of the East Indonesian Mujahidin (MIT) terrorist cell, headquartered in the jungle surrounding Poso (Central Sulawesi). This group is known for its attacks on Indonesian security forces.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stressed the need to enhance intelligence sharing in Southeast Asia in order to avert possible Paris-style attacks.
The viciously militant Islamic State, known for its brutal mass killings, abductions, beheadings, and crucifixions, has been in the news headlines since 2014 when it gained control over large pieces of territory in Syria and Iraq, declaring the establishment of a caliphate ruled under Islamic Law (sharia). The organization has attracted support from radical Muslims across the globe, including Indonesia. Although being a minority among the estimated 200 million Muslim inhabitants of Indonesia, there exists a radical Muslim community in the country that not only believes Islam should be the sole guidance in life but is also willing to use extreme measures to reform and uproot established conditions.
After having been plagued by terrorist attacks directed at symbols of the western world in Indonesia (the 2002/2005 Bali bombings and the 2003/2009 JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotel bombings), Indonesia's terrorist cells - now operating in smaller networks than before (as this makes it more difficult to trace them) - have been aiming at symbols of the Indonesian state since 2010 (for example police offers). This is most likely the reaction of local Islamic radicals to successful strategies of Indonesian authorities to combat terrorist cells. In 2003 a special counter-terrorism squad, Densus 88, was established which has had considerable success in weakening the Jema'ah Islamiyah network, a Southeast Asian militant group dedicated to the establishment of a caliphate in Southeast Asia.