Islamic State Fears Mounting In Indonesia; Recruitment By Islamic State Triples In Past Few Months

Islamic State Fears Mounting In Indonesia; Recruitment By Islamic State Triples In Past Few Months

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Prashanth Parameswaran, writing on the December 16, 2014 website, ASEAN Beat, writes that “officials from Indonesia and Malaysia, Southeast Asia’s two Muslim-majority states, have expressed concern that the threat from the Islamic State movement in Syria and Iraq could be growing in their countries — in spite if initial measures taken to control the movement’s appeal. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, the nation’s Counterterrorism Chief, Saud Usman Nasution warned last month that “recruitment of Islamic State fighters in Indonesia, had more than tripled in the past few months.” “All in all, Saud said around 514 Indonesians have gone to Iraq and Syria, to fight with the movement, with about half being students, or migrant workers, who had already been living in neighboring countries. That makes Indonesia, Southwest Asia’s biggest supplier of Islamic State fighters by far — raising questions about what might happen once those militants return home,” Mr. Parameswaran wrote. And, after all the publicity that the al Qaeda-linked terrorists got this week after their attack against the Charlie Hebdo offices that killed at least 12 and others injured.

Although the Indonesian government has banned the Islamic State in the country, Indonesian laws do not currently allow authorities to charge or detain Islamic State supporters who leave to fight for the movement,” the Asean Beat noted. “That is a significant limitation for Indonesian authorities — relative to their counterparts in Malaysia,” Mr. Parameswaran noted. “We don’t want Indonesia to have an Internal Security Act; but, it would be good to make participation in military training by extremist groups both here and abroad — illegal,” said Sidney Jones, the Director for the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, in an interview with The Jakarta Post.

Meanwhile, although the numbers of Malaysians joining the Islamic State is much smaller than Indonesia — total has risen from 39 to 50 as of October 2014, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warned last November, that the overall terror threat in Malaysia “had reached a whole new level, with growing links between foreign and local fighters and militants seeking to influence domestic political parties…and raise funds in Malaysia. Some of those recently arrested in Malaysia were reportedly planning attacks on government agencies, night-clubs and pubs, including a brewery owned by Danish beer company, Carlsburg,” according to Channel News Asia.

“Malaysia is also being increasingly used as a transit point, for individuals from neighboring states — and then looking to find their way to the Middle East. Last month, Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakr, confirmed seven suspects were detained in raids December 2, 2014. One of the suspects, was a facilitator-in-charge of arranging the departure of Indonesian militants into Syria; and, is believed to have links with Umar Patek, the mastermind behind the deadly Bali bombings in 2002; and, a key member of al Qaeda’s Southeast Asian affiliate – Jemmah Islamiyah — who was imprisoned in 2012,” Mr. Parameswaran wrote.

“To respond to this growing threat, the Malaysian government is working on strengthening existing laws to curb terrorism. Malaysia passed a White Paper — just the third in the nation’s history — on the issue in late November; and, a draft of the new Anti-Terrorism Act is expected to be tabled at the Parliament’s next session in March. Khalid, the Inspector-General, said, it would a timely move — as current laws are inadequate. “There is a need for a special law to tackle terrorism in the country; and, this law will also give the police the power to tackle such threats,” he said.

Perhaps in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Canada, Australia, and France, this new law is more urgently needed than the authorities thought. V/R, RCP

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