Indonesian authorities are working to find connections between home-grown terrorist networks and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( ISIS ).
"ISIS seems to use Indonesia because we have the largest Muslim population," Indonesian Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told Khabar Southeast Asia. "They are using our country to persuade people to join their struggle, claiming it is for Islam."
Counter-terrorism unit Densus 88 uncovered evidence linked to the Middle Eastern group in raids.
On August 9th, officers arrested Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) leader Afif Abdul Majid in Bekasi. The day before, they captured Guntur Pamungkas and Kardi, suspected ISIS sympathisers and members of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), in Ngawi, East Java.
"We have found the ISIS flag on every terrorist arrested this year, including one in Ngawi, East Java and in Bekasi, West Java," Boy said, referring to those arrests. "Our assessments continue to find links between terrorism [in Indonesia] and ISIS."
Afif was arrested for alleged involvement in financing sinister activities led by convicted terrorist Luthfi Hudairoh, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
"Like many others, (Afif) openly stated his support for ISIS," Boy said, noting he reconnected with JAT founder and radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir and pledged allegiance to ISIS alongside Bashir.
"We will not permit ISIS to spread its vision and mission in Indonesia," Boy vowed.
Countering the ISIS threat
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin told reporters August 9th that ISIS not only fights the West, but also fights fellow Muslims, warning it could disrupt Indonesia's religious diversity and divide its majority Muslim populace.
"ISIS is using religious sentiment to get more followers. This could damage the nation's harmony," Lukman told Khabar, adding that precautions needed to be taken to safeguard Indonesia from this violent organisation.
In addition to security measures, the government should come up with other ways to fight ISIS's recruitment efforts, according to terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail.
"The different approaches should focus on individuals under the age of 40 and it can be done through the community, including maximising the role of religious leaders and family," he told Khabar.
"Countering radicalism will take some time, but obviously the sooner the better."