The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has decided to ban Indonesian nationals who joined the Islamic State (IS) movement in Syria from returning to Indonesia, calling them “ex-citizens”, as he instructed his aides to immediately sort out their identities and put them on the immigration database.
The move followed the government’s decision not to repatriate some 689 Indonesian IS supporters currently stranded abroad, with the government saying that it would prioritize the safety of the hundreds of millions of citizens at home.
“During the Cabinet meeting [on Tuesday], I gave an order to identify each of the 689 people, including their names and where they came from,” Jokowi told reporters on Wednesday.
“Once the data is completed and put into an immigration database, we can ban them from entering [the country],” he went on to say, adding that the IS sympathizers “are ex-citizens”.
Citing data from the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD previously said that some 689 Indonesians had been identified as IS sympathizers in Syria and Turkey, as well as other countries.
According to the data, some 228 people still hold identification as Indonesian citizens while others do not have proper documents to prove their citizenship. Indonesian authorities have previously suggested that most of the Indonesian IS supporters are women and children.
When asked about the IS sympathizers’ fate, now that Indonesia had decided against their return, Jokowi said that joining IS “was their own decision” and that “they would have calculated” the risks from doing so.
“We will still provide opportunities for orphans [to return home], those who are children under 10 years old,” Jokowi said, “But so far we still don’t know if there are any.”
Prior to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Jokowi had voiced his personal disapproval of the idea of repatriating Indonesian IS supporters, although he added that the decision would be made after hearing from relevant ministries.
Mahfud also conveyed a personal view similar to Jokowi’s, saying that repatriating IS fighters could pose a danger to the country.
Editor’s note: The number of identified Indonesian IS supporters has been corrected from 698 to 689. We apologize for the mistake.