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Jakarta Post

BREAKING: Indonesia not repatriating IS fighters to protect nation from 'terrorist virus'

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, February 11, 2020   /   06:07 pm
BREAKING: Indonesia not repatriating IS fighters to protect nation from 'terrorist virus' People involved in the Bhinneka Jaya Volunteer Line display posters in front of the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Monday to reject proposals to allow more than 600 Indonesian citizens who joined the Islamic State movement in the Middle East to return to Indonesia. (Antara/Wahyu Putro A)

The government has decided not to repatriate Indonesian citizens who joined the Islamic State (IS) movement, Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD announced.

He said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the Cabinet made the decision because the interests of the hundreds of millions of citizens in the country outweighed those of the 689 who, he said, had become “foreign terrorist fighters” in Syria and Turkey.

“The government and the state has to ensure that the 267 million people in Indonesia are safe from the threat of terrorism,” Mahfud said after a Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java on Tuesday. “If these foreign terrorist fighters come back they can become a new virus that makes those 267 million people feel unsafe.”

Jokowi expressed his personal objection to the repatriation proposal last week, but said that the final decision would be made after meeting with the Cabinet.

Read also: 'If you asked me, I'd say no': Jokowi personally against repatriation of Indonesian IS members

Mahfud said the government would nevertheless collect data about the numbers and identities of the citizens who had allegedly joined IS and that young children might be repatriated, depending on their circumstances.

“Children under 10 will be considered on a case-by-case basis: for example, if they have parents there or not,” he said. 

He added that the Cabinet did not discuss the citizenship status of the IS supporters during the meeting. 

“The main thing is that the [IS supporters] will not come home because we want to provide a feeling of safety for all the people who are here,” he said, explaining that the government wants to protect the nation from the 'terrorist virus'.