The Jakarta Post
The Central Sulawesi Police on Wednesday revealed the involvement of two Islamic State ( IS ) movement members from China's restive Xinjiang province in supporting the Poso-based East Indonesia Mujahiddin ( MIT ) terrorist group, organizing various violent attacks against locals and law enforcers in past years.
Speaking to reporters, Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Idham Azis said that, based on intelligence reports, the two foreigners, who are also members of China's ethnic Uighur minority, were the first to join MIT, led by Indonesia's most-wanted man Santoso since 2014.
'There had also been a second group, consisting of four people, who wished to join Santoso's group, but police arrested them on Oct. 6, 2014 in Parigi Moutong regency,' said Idham, identifying the four previously arrested Chinese Uighurs as A Basyit, A Bozoghlan, A Bayram and A Zubaidan.
The police have been unable to identify the two Chinese Uighurs who successfully joined the MIT, said Idham.
The foreigners, he added, had been travelling with Santoso's group, moving from one forest to another in Poso.
'They have mostly been involved in cases of violent attacks and murder in Poso and Parigi Moutong regencies,' he said.
Together with fellow MIT supporters, the Chinese Uighurs had, according to Idham, been involved in the blocking of a Baracuda police armored vehicle, which the group shot at in Poso Pesisir district in Poso on Oct. 7 last year.
Both foreigners, he added, were also believed to be involved in the murder of a Poso resident named M. Fadli, 50, in front of the victim's house in South Poso Pesisir district in November last year. Fadli was slashed in the neck with a machete and killed.
Early last year, Santoso's gang, including both foreigners, was also involved in the murders of three residents in Tangkura village, South Poso Pesisir, said Idham.
Apart from their role as assassins, Idham suspected that the foreigners had been arranging the delivery of finance and ammunition supplies to the MIT.
Poso, located some 200 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital of Palu, used to be a popular resort city known for its natural beauty.
However, between 1998 and 2001, the region was rocked by a series of sectarian conflicts involving Muslim and Christian groups, leaving some 1,000 people dead.
Of the regency's 228,000 residents, 68 percent are Christian and 26 percent Muslim.
With the Malino agreement signed in 2001 by both Christians and Muslims, peace gradually returned but acts of terrorism have continued.
Since last year, law enforcers have been cooperating in the manhunt for the leaders of the MIT, the most-feared group in the region. On Dec. 25, 2015, the police managed to arrest two Chinese Uighurs, identified as AM and AL, in Bekasi, West Java, who were believed to have been preparing bomb attacks.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan confirmed that the two people were linked to the radical IS movement.
'When we raided [AL's] house, we found material to make bombs,' he said recently.