More than two weeks after Densus 88 arrested four foreigners on suspicion of international terrorism links, the National Police continue to investigate why they were in Indonesia and whether they belonged to the banned Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ( ISIS ).
The four suspects, all members of China's ethnic Uighur minority, were picked up in Central Sulawesi Province on September 13th.
"There are suspicions that they may be linked to terrorism or the international militant organisation the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ," National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told Khabar Southeast Asia, one day after the four were arrested along with three Indonesians.
The four Uighurs were being held at Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, West Java on suspicion of violating anti-terrorism and immigration laws. They entered Indonesia via Malaysia on fake Turkish passports purchased for $1,000 each in Thailand, authorities allege.
Names on the false passports were Abdul Basyit and Atlinci Bayram, both 19, Ahmed Bozoghlan, 28, and Alphin Zubaidan, 27, National Police spokesman Ronny F. Sompie told Khabar. The three Indonesians, also being held at the same facility, were identified as Saiful Priatna (alias Ipul), 29, M. Irfan (alias Ifan), 21, and Judith Chandra (alias Ichan), 28.
"The four foreigners were planning to go to Poso to join a militant group led by Santoso (currently on the Indonesian police's wanted list/DPO )," Ronny said.
He told Khabar the Uighurs denied any ties to Indonesia's most wanted terrorist.
Immediately following the arrests, outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered police and security services to increase surveillance of suspicious foreigners in Poso , a hotbed for radical Muslim activities.
"The police are investigating their links to international terrorism activities," Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said at a September 14th news conference at the president's office.
Sri Yunanto, a terrorism expert at the National Counterterrorism Agency ( BNPT ), said ongoing repression of Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region could drive militant Muslims in Indonesia to commit terrorism in solidarity with the Uighurs.
He likened the scenario to terrorist acts carried out in Indonesia in retaliation for the Burmese government's persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority . Last year, radicals blew up two homemade bombs at a Buddhist temple in Jakarta and plotted an attack on the Burmese embassy .
"There is potential for a terrorist attack if they see it as a show of solidarity to the Uighur Muslims. If there were Muslims oppressed, they consider it as the most important reason to attack, and it is easy to find Chinese-related interests here as their target," Sri told Khabar.