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Islamic State - Indonesia and Malaysia

Earlier militant groups in Indonesia were under the umbrella of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) affiliated with al-Qaeda, but the emergence of ISIS made the militant groups split into new organizations. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi called on all Muslims around the world to migrate and join the Islamic army in Syria. He used a lot of electronic media in the form of video. By one estimate about 500 Indonesians joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq, while police called lower numbers of around 200-300. The division between pro- and anti-ISIS is complex. In Indonesia, the Indonesian Mujahidin Council and the Jama'ah Ansharut Shariah - which is a fraction of Jemaah Ansharut Tawheed led by Abu Bakar Baasyir - are anti-ISIS groups. Not all hard-line Islamic movements provide support. Hizb ut-Tahrir for example, despite wanting the Islamic Caliphate, refused to recognize the Caliphate of al Baghdadi. Some JAT activists also rejected ISIS, then broke away and formed a new organization called Jamaah Ansharut Syariah (JAS). The same rejection is also expressed by the leadership of the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI).

The head of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency Saud Usman Nasution said in March 2015 that more than 10 organizations are supporting ISIS. Saud revealed that their support for ISIS is done in various forms, including financial support, dissemination, and recruitment of personnel. One of the organizations, called Saud, once raised the ISIS flag in a rally at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in 2014. Terrorism watcher Al Chaidar said, ISIS supporters in Indonesia are growing rapidly. Al Chaidar estimated ISIS supporters in Indonesia had reached two million people.

The National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT) suspects the ISIS network in Indonesia has existed for a long time. BNPT spokeswoman Irfan Idris said 23 March 2015 the West Java and Banten areas have traditionally been the basis of a radical movement in the name of religion. "It is common knowledge that in West Java there is a lot of brainwashing. Even in one Tangerang region, Tauhid Wal Jihad is active in doing archery and knife throwing".

Indonesian police said 20 February 2016 that they had arrested dozens of suspected Islamic militants in two separate raids on the main island of Java. The anti-terrorism squad arrested 36 men who were attending military-style training at a suspected jihadist camp on the remote slopes of Mount Sumbing in Central Java province. Air rifles, knives, jihadist books and flags were seized in the raid. Separately, five suspected militants were captured in Malang, a hilly city in East Java province. Police interrogated alleged militants arrested earlier of links to the January 14 suicide and gun attacks in the capital Jakarta. In response to the attacks, the government submitted a new anti-terrorism law to parliament.

Indonesian police conducted raids in multiple locations in the wake of the downtown Jakarta fatal attack 14 January 2016. Indonesian police said they arrested 12 people allegedly connected to the deadly Islamic State-linked terror attack in the capital. National police chief Badrodin Haiti said the group had received funding from unidentified sources within Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Just two innocent people were killed in the late-morning siege near a busy shopping district, despite multiple blasts and a gunfight. The two civilians were a Canadian-Algerian dual national and an Indonesian. Twenty-four people were seriously wounded, including an Austrian, a German and a Dutchman.

Five of the militants were killed after they attacked police and other targets in downtown Jakarta with bombs, grenades and guns, while two others were taken alive, according to police reports.

Analysts offered various theories as to why the Jakarta attack on soft targets with a poorly trained small group armed with grenades, homemade bombs and handguns produced so few casualties. The low death toll on Thursday pointed to the involvement of poorly trained ISIL supporters whose weapons were crude. The operation may have been hurried into execution as leaders of rival factions jockey to be recognized as emir should IS declare Indonesia as one of its provinces. "Thats why [Indonesian IS fighter] Bahrun Naim plotted this attack," from Raqqa in Syria, said Jakartas police chief Tito Karnavian just hours after the incident. Naim's vision is to unite all ISIS supporting elements in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The attack carried out by militants in Jakarta was funded by the "Islamic State" militant group. The funds were driven through Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant arrested in 2011 for illegal arms possession, police chief General Badrodin Haiti told reporters. He served three years in prison for the charges. After his release, he became increasingly involved in Islamist groups across the world's most populous country, emerging as a key player in militant networks. Naim left for Syria last year to join the fight alongside the "Islamic State" after being released.

Indonesia is no stranger to acts of terrorism. In recent years, two luxury hotels in Jakarta were hit by separate blasts five minutes apart on July 17, 2009, killing some foreigners. That attack took place nearly four years after coordinated suicide bombings and car blasts at two sites on the resort island of Bali killed more than 20 people, and the 2002 Bali bombings that left more than 200 people dead.

Following the 2002 Bali bombings, the Indonesian government initiated so-called deradicalization programs designed to manage the more radical elements of society. The programs, which include different interpretations of the Koran, mainly target imprisoned Islamists, with law enforcement agencies determined to taken the prisoners' concerns seriously and support their families. They hope that by doing so, those radicalized will renounce violence. Observers are skeptical about the degree of success of such programs.

The emergence of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had a dramatic impact on the jihadist community in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. One of the main reasons for the limited ISIS threat is that relatively few Indonesian or Malaysian fighters have returned to their home countries. This seems to be attributable to the fact that the ISIS leadership currently prefers its foreign fighters to remain in Syria and Iraq to defend and expand the caliphate, rather than return to Southeast Asia and wage violent jihad there.

The division between pro- and anti-ISIS is complex. On the pro-ISIS side the major support groups are:

  1. Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (Community of the Helpers of Monotheism; JAT). Founded in 2008 by former Jemaah Islamiyah emir, Abu Bakar Baasyir, JAT at its peak in 2010 had many thousands of members and chapters across the archipelago. The organisation split over Baasyirs support for ISIS in mid-July, with some 80 percent of JAT members leaving to join the newly established Jamaah Anshorut Syariah (Congregation of Islamic Law Helpers; JAS). Although now small in size, JAT still facilitated recruitment to ISIS for its members and sympathisers.
  2. Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (East Indonesian Jihad Fighters; MIT). Formed by a former JAT commander, Santoso (alias Abu Wardah al-Syarqi) in 2011, MIT comprised an array of jihadist cells in Central Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara (especially Bima) and East Kalimantan. Santoso was the first Indonesian jihadist leader to declare allegiance to ISIS, in late 2013, and MIT had strong links into Syria and featured often in the international jihadist media. Despite being the most wanted terrorist in Indonesia, Santoso has proven to be an ineffective jihadist commander and his group in Central Sulawesi was thought to number just 30 men and to control a small tract of land at Biru Mountain near the city of Poso. Although small in size and with little capacity, Santosos MIT had considerable symbolic power because it was seen as controlling territory and thus having a safe base (qaidah aminah) in which Islam can be fully implemented.
  3. Jamaah Tauhid wal Jihad (Community of Monotheism and Jihad; JTJ). Founded by Aman Abdurrahman (alias Oman Rochman) in 2004, JTJ has a loose structure and most of its activities are based in cells, numerous of which have become involved in terrorist operations.
  4. Ring Banten. This group split from Darul Islam, Indonesias oldest jihadist organisation, in 1999 and its members were involved in both the 2002 Bali bombing and the 2004 Australian embassy bombing. One of its leaders, Rois (Iwan Dharmawan), was on death row for his role in the latter attack. Several of its members joined ISIS in Syria.
  5. Gema Salam (contraction of Gerakan Mahasiswa Untuk Syariat Islam; Students Movement for Islamic Law). Since 2013, Gema Salam has become a strong advocate of the ISIS cause on campuses in many parts of Indonesia. It follows the teachings of Aman Abdurrahman and runs the website, one of the most prominent pro-ISIS sites in Indonesia. It also translates and publishes online the Indonesian version of ISISs Dabiq journal.
  6. Mujahidin Indonesia Barat (Western Indonesia Holy War Fighters; MIB). Established in West Java in 2012 as a splinter group from a Darul Islam faction led by Abu Umar, it has a number of members who have joined ISIS in Syria.
  7. FAKSI (Forum Aktivis Syariat Islam; Islamic Sharia Activists Forum). Created by Muhammad Fachry (real name Tuah Febriwansyah) and Bahrum Syam in early 2013, FAKSI was based on the militant al-Muhajirun group in Indonesia and quickly became a leading source of pro-ISIS media activity in Indonesia. Its main site is, which promotes the most extreme forms of ISIS ideology and is a major platform for spreading the teachings of Aman Abdurrahman. FAKSI organised a series of public lectures to advocate for ISIS, including mass pledges of support. Bahrum joined ISIS forces in Syria in May 2014 and quickly rose to prominence on social media and then as head of the Katibah, while Fachry busied himself with selecting and training ISIS recruits in Indonesia. There are unconfirmed reports that Bahrum was killed in Syria.
  8. In November 2015, there was a pro-ISIS group meeting to form a new organization called Jemaah Ansyarul Khalifah. Unfortunately the evidence of this organizational structure has not been found, although there is Al-Mustaqbal's website that disseminates the ISIS understanding. The site run by Muhammad Fachry alias Tuah, who was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of Rp 5 million after three months of confinement, was declared legally and convincingly to disseminate information that could affect violence. On the site, Tuah called to spread ISIS propaganda videos and invite readers to leave for Syria to fight President Bashar Al Assad. The verdict granted for Tuah alias Fachry was lighter than the prosecutor's demand, which is a sentence of eight years in prison and a fine of Rp50 million. Sidney Jones, a terrorism researcher, said Tuah had an important role in the ISIS movement in Indonesia. "Fachry is actually the biggest actor who organizes pro-ISIS groups across Indonesia through the site, which is now closed by the Indonesian government. If we look at what he did to recruit people for ISIS, (the verdict) five years is far too light," Jones told BBC Indonesia.

East Indonesia Mujahidin (EIM) / Mujahidin Indonesian Timur (MIT) is an ISIL-linked terrorist group operating in Indonesia. MIT members have ties to other US Department of State designated FTOs, including Jemmah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) and Jemaah Islamiya (JI). In July 2014, MITs leader, Abu Warda Santoso, pledged allegiance to ISIL.

MIT has become increasingly bold in its attacks on security forces, which includes the use of explosives and shootings. Acting under the authority of and in accordance with section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001, as amended by Executive Order 13268 of July 2, 2002, and Executive Order 13284 of January 23, 2003, on 21 September 2015 John F. Kerry, Secretary of State, determined that the entity known as Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT), also known as Mujahideen Indonesia Timor, also known as Mujahidin of Eastern Indonesia, also known as Mujahidin Indonesia Barat, also known as Mujahidin Indonesia Timor, also known as Mujahidin of Western Indonesia (MIB) committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

By early 2016 governemnt troops had been aggressively pursuing Abu Wardah Santoso, Indonesia's most wanted militant and leader of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (EIM) network, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. At least five members of the EIM network were killed by security forces this past week. Members of the group are thought to be hiding in Poso, where more than 1,000 people died in 2001 and 2002 in violence between Christians and Muslims.

Indonesia has the worlds largest Muslim population, 87 percent of its more than 250 million people. Approximately 10 percent of the countrys population are Christian, three percent of whom are Catholic. Indonesias federal system and weak oversight gives provinces wide latitude to enforce negative interpretations of Indonesian law, ignore court decisions, and apply Shariah law in ways that violate constitutional protections. With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the worlds largest archipelagic nation. As a result, securing land and sea borders remains an ongoing challenge. Although Indonesia does not provide a safe haven for terrorists, terrorists meet and train in the isolated area near Poso, Central Sulawesi.

In 2014, the local legislature in the province of Aceh passed a new bylaw that strengthened Shariah law and for the first time ever expanded it to non-Muslims, both Indonesians and foreigners; an estimated 90,000 non-Muslims reside in Aceh. The bylaw imposes Islamic law on persons of other faiths, establishes new crimes not found in the national criminal code, and potentially forces non-Muslims to be tried in Shariah courts.

Indonesian laws criminalizing blasphemy and other forms of perceived religious insults continue to be used against individuals, often on trumped-up charges. In December 2014, police opened an investigation of Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, editor of The The [Shariah] Jakarta Post, for publishing what some believe to be a blasphemous cartoon criticizing the violence carried out by the terrorist group ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Internal pressures continued to diminish Indonesias respect for religious freedom and tradition of tolerance and pluralism. Deteriorating religious freedom conditions in Indonesia in 2014 were somewhat overshadowed by legislative and presidential elections, but discrimination and violence against religious minorities continued, as well as the harassment and imprisonment of individuals accused of blasphemy.

The year 2014 capped off the decade-long presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, under whose tenure religious extremism, and its expression through acts of violence, grew with little government intervention.

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, known for his support of Islamic extremist elements, also left office in 2014. The Ministry itself has a history of implementing discriminatory practices and laws against non-Sunni Muslims, in particular Shia and Ahmadi Muslims. Hardline groups that incite violence against religious minorities or Muslims, with whom they disagree, continue to operate freely and with relative impunity.

In 2014, Indonesia expanded international counterterrorism cooperation, including with the United States. Indonesia sustained pressure on terrorists and their networks, particularly those operating within its borders, but continued to face challenges trying to stem the flow of Indonesians traveling abroad to engage in terrorism.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) became a major impetus for further counterterrorism efforts. The emergence in July 2014 of a recruitment video calling for Indonesians to join ISIL focused the attention of the government and civil society and religious groups on countering the ISIL threat. Indonesian government officials estimated that up to 300 Indonesians may have traveled to the Middle East since 2012 to engage in terrorist activities.

In August 2014, government officials banned support for ISIL. However, this ban is a proclamation and does not have the force of law. Officials are considering measures to revise Indonesias legislative framework to make it more effective. Authorities made at least 10 arrests of alleged ISIL supporters. The Ministry of Communications and Information blocked 20 ISIL-related websites. To complement these actions, officials recognized the need for a counter-messaging campaign; these efforts were nascent at years end. Many of Indonesias countermeasures against ISIL also addressed the broader threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, whether affiliated with ISIL or other violent extremist groups operating in the Middle East.

In September 2014, President Yudhoyono outlined a series of measures to counter ISIL. To prevent the travel of potential foreign fighters, Yudhoyono called for increased scrutiny of passport and visa issuances. The government held a series of coordination meetings with foreign officials, including from transit and destination countries. Yudhoyono announced that Indonesian citizens abroad and foreigners within Indonesia would be monitored more closely. He said the surveillance of terrorist prisoners would be tightened and called for heightened vigilance throughout Indonesia, especially in areas vulnerable to or with a history of violent extremism. In December 2014, authorities in Malaysia arrested and later deported seven Indonesian citizens, accompanied by five children, who were planning travel to Syria to join ISIL.

On 10 January 2017 the U.S. Department of the Treasurys Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action to disrupt the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levants (ISIL) global fundraising and support network by designating four individuals Neil Christopher Prakash, Khaled Sharrouf, Bachrumsyah Mennor Usman, and Oman Rochman as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

Bachrumsyah Mennor Usman was designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL. He is an ISIL official who commands ISIL fighters, facilitates funding for ISIL operations in Indonesia, recruits for ISIL, and coordinates travel and communications for ISIL members.

Usman had pledged allegiance to ISIL as of mid-2014 and was involved in sending Indonesians to Syria. In early February 2014, Usman claimed he was part of ISIL when he appeared at an event in support of ISIL at a mosque in Indonesia. In September 2014, Usman was identified as the leader of ISILs Archipelago Group also known as Katibah Nusantara in Syria. He was also designated by ISIL to receive training in bomb-making.

As of March 2016, Usman had transferred $105,000 to the leader of a group of terrorists in Indonesia identified as the Bekasi cell. ISIL had ordered that the money be used to carry out attacks in Indonesia. The individual receiving the money had been contemplating attacks in Bali, as well as at an international school and at an airport in Jakarta. As of February 2016, Usman reportedly transferred funds to both Indonesia and the Philippines, and he ordered an associate to plan attacks similar to the January 14, 2016 bomb attacks in Jakarta.

As of February 2016, Usman commanded an Indonesian-Malaysian fighting unit for ISIL. He was also identified as an Indonesian member of ISIL who had been promoted to the rank of high official and had uploaded to a video-sharing website a video entitled Join the Ranks, in which he urges Indonesians to support ISIL. After the video featuring Usman was released, Indonesian police detected an underground movement to recruit more ISIL members. In March 2015, Usman appeared in an ISIL propaganda video that promoted ISILs links to Indonesia and portrayed Indonesian and Malaysian children receiving military training using machine guns.

Additionally, as of April 2016, Usman financially assisted Wiji Joko Santoso the leader of SDGT Indonesian terrorist group Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT) by transferring funds directly to an MIT-affiliated bank account and indirectly to the Philippines for the purchase of weapons for the group.

Usman studied under pro-ISIL leader Oman Rochman, collaborated with ISIL supporter and SDGT Muhammad Fachry after Rochmans incarceration, and jointly founded an organization with Fachry that subsequently declared its support for ISIL in February 2014. Usman reportedly departed Indonesia for Syria at the end of March 2014.

Usman also had previously been a member of SDGT and Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Jemaah Islamiyah.

Oman Rochman was designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL in the areas of recruitment and media dissemination, and as of late-2015 was considered to be the de facto leader for all ISIL supporters in Indonesia, despite his incarceration in Indonesia since December 2010.

As of February 2016, Rochman, while incarcerated, recruited prospective militants to join ISIL and was likely communicating with ISIL leaders in Syria. Rochman authorized terrorist attacks on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia and issued a fatwa (decree) from prison in January 2016 encouraging Indonesian militants to join ISIL. As of January 2016, Rochman was leading ISIL members in Indonesia and gave the order to a Jakarta attacker in December 2015 to carry out ISIL attacks in January 2016.

Rochman pledged allegiance to ISIL in early 2014 and was actively recruiting for ISIL as of early 2015. In 2015, Rochman instructed an Indonesian associate to travel to Syria to join ISIL. He also recruited an individual in prison to travel to Syria to join ISIL after the individual was released from prison. As of mid-2015, Rochman required Indonesian extremists who desired to join ISIL in Syria to obtain a recommendation from him before departing for Syria.

Rochman was Indonesias main translator for ISIL, as of October 2014, and disseminated information online from prison, including ISILs call for Muslims to kill Westerners indiscriminately. In August 2014, Rochman was identified as a key figure who spearheaded the spread of ISILs ideology in Indonesia by translating ISIL writings and distributing them through Islamic studies groups and social media.

In December 2010, Rochman was sentenced to nine years in prison for violating Article 13 of Indonesias counter-terrorism law. Rochman has been incarcerated for his role in contributing funds and recruiting for a terrorist training camp in Aceh, Indonesia that had been affiliated with SDGT Abu Bakar Baasyir. As of 2016, Rochman remains imprisoned in Indonesia.

In May 2014, the Department of State announced the amendment of the designation of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 to add the alias Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as its primary name. ISIL was added to the UN 1267/1989/2253 Committee's Consolidated List its list of sanctioned terrorists in December 2015.

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Page last modified: 24-04-2017 16:05:34 ZULU