The Jakarta Post
The terrorist convict and spiritual leader of the region's extremist network, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, has instructed his followers to support their 'fellow brothers' by fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its self-proclaimed Caliphate of the State of Islam.
Ba'asyir's message was delivered to the chairman of Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), Mochammad Achwan.
'Ustad [Muslim preacher] Abu has told us that he and JAT will generally support our brothers fighting for ISIL,' Achwan told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Achwan said the support may come in the form of helping fund the ISIL movement and preparing JAT members to fight in Syria.
Many members of the JAT, founded by Ba'-asyir after he left Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), which was behind the 2002 Bali bombings, have been implicated and even convicted in terrorism cases.
'However, Ustad Abu has not yet pledged the ba'iat [oath of allegiance] to ISIL's leader [Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi], as he is seeking more information from our fighters in Syria over the future of JN [Jabhat al-Nusra],' said Achwan.
JN is a prominent Salafi jihadist organization in the Syrian conflict with links to al-Qaeda. According to Achwan, JAT has ties to JN.
'There seems to be discord between JN and ISIL. That's why we've chosen to refrain from declaring the ba'iat, but our position is clear. We support the formation of a caliphate and that the established territorial control by ISIL has gained traction as acknowledged by Ustad Abu,' said Achwan.
ISIL has defined the Islamic state's territory as stretching from northern Syria to the Iraqi province of Diyala.
According to Achwan, Ba'asyir's support of ISIL was conveyed after he gathered high-ranking JAT leaders and his family members on Thursday in the supposedly maximum-security Pasir Putih prison in Nusakambangan, an island near the coast of Cilacap, Central Java. Ba'asyir is serving a 15-year prison sentence for terrorism offences there.
In prison, Ba'asyir has preached to most of the 326 inmates about his dream of creating an Islamic state, or caliphate.
Ba'asyir and other Muslim extremists worldwide have long dreamed of reviving the caliphate that ruled the Middle East and surrounding areas over the course of Islam's 1,400-year history.
Aside from Ba'asyir, other prominent jihadi leaders have also conveyed support for ISIL.
This includes Aman Abdurrahman, who is now serving a nine-year prison term for terrorism training in Aceh, firebrand cleric Halawi Makmun of Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI) and fugitive terrorist Santoso of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT).
National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Ansyaad Mbai could not be reached for comment.