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Jakarta Post

Expert warns of Indonesian jihadists fighting in Syria

  • Yuliasri Perdani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 16, 2014   /  08:04 am

Authorities should keep an eye on around 50 Indonesians fighting in the civil war in Syria, considering the possibility these individuals may involve themselves in terrorism after returning to Indonesia, terrorism expert Sidney Jones said on Wednesday.

'€œIf these people return to Indonesia, they'€™ve got instant credentials and legitimacy as people who took part in the most important jihadi conflict in the world today. They will have combat experience and military skills,'€ said Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), during a visit to The Jakarta Post.

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) previously stated that most of the militants were Indonesian students who studied at universities at the Middle East.

The agency'€™s international cooperation deputy, Hari Purwanto, said the BNPT was only allowed to place the militants under surveillance upon their arrival in the country.

Jones was concerned that the possible influx of the Indonesian militants would take the terrorism threat inside Indonesia to another level.

'€œThey will have been exposed to the global jihad more generally. If you look at the guys who are involved today in terrorist acts '€” they are shooting police or robbing banks. These people are really narrow minded in their thinking. Connecting back to the global jihad could be dangerous for Indonesia in the long run,'€ she said.

Aside from the militants in Syria, Jones suggested the government step up surveillance on convicted terrorists serving sentences, particular in terms of the publications they wrote and read.

She suggested many convicted militants were translating and publishing material on the Internet with the help of visiting friends.

'€œSomehow [there is] a sense, in some of the prisons, that every prisoner has a right to read everything he or she wants. They do have a right to reading materials according to international guidelines, but you can place controls on those material,'€ she said.

Information gathering inside prison must also be stepped up to prevent influential terrorists from recruiting new members.

'€œThe recidivism rate is quite low among people convicted of terrorism '€” still under 10 percent. The more dangerous people are ordinary criminals recruited by these people in prison. Nobody knows their names. Nobody considers them threats,'€ she said.

'€œThose people are more valuable in some ways as assets to the extremist movement,'€ Jones added.

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