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Jakarta Post

RI should be cautious over potential IS threat: Experts

  • Josh Dye

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, February 10, 2015   /  09:47 am

The brutal killing of a captured Jordanian pilot and the beheading of Japanese hostages by the Islamic State (IS) group have provided a reminder of the potential threat the IS poses to Indonesia, terrorism experts say.

'€œIndonesia is facing potential terrorist acts from IS supporters in Indonesia,'€ said Solahudin, an expert on Islamic extremism in this country.

Since Indonesia officially banned support for the IS in August last year and warned citizens not to join the group'€™s fight in Syria and Iraq, it has effectively supported the anti-IS coalition and therefore faced threats of attack, Solahudin said.

In September, the IS issued a mandate for its supporters to attack the citizens of the countries that joined the coalition. '€œWho are the targets? IS never makes any difference between civilians and military. Civilians, including journalists, of the coalition countries are their targets,'€ he said. '€œWe can not underestimate [the] IS threat in Indonesia.'€

The beheading of two Japanese citizens in the past fortnight highlighted the threat facing all countries opposing the IS and they prove the IS is not only targeting Western nations.

Several days after the beheading of the second Japanese hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, the IS released a video of a man standing in a cage engulfed in flames. Jordan has confirmed the death of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, who was captured when his plane came down near Raqqa, Syria, during a mission against the IS in December.

Solahudin urged the government to '€œstrengthen legal tools'€ in order to '€œprosecute any Indonesians who fight in Syria'€ and return home radicalized.

Although the group was declared an illegal organization, that has no force of law.

'€œThere are no articles in the Indonesian terrorist law that allows prosecution of any Indonesian who fights in Syria,'€ Solahudin said.

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) estimated that more than 500 Indonesians have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with the IS. Around half of them are Indonesian citizens who were residing in nearby countries as students or migrants workers prior to the rise of the IS.

Concerns arise as those joining the IS in Syria and Iraq will return home with combat experience, tactical skills, weapons knowledge, deeper ideological commitment and wider international connections.

'€œFor the long term, veterans of Syria will become a significant threat for Indonesia. Members and supporters of the IS have an agenda to set up an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.'€

The founder of the Institute for International Peace Building in Jakarta, Noor Huda Ismail, said the issue of radicalized IS extremists returning home was a critical challenge facing governments globally.

'€œOne of the key issues that the world has to deal with is the veterans from the IS who decide to come back to their home countries,'€ Ismail said. '€œWhat to do with them? Should we let them [be] free, or should we arrest them? Both decisions have many consequences,'€ he said.

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