Indonesia Mulls Tougher Approach Against Islamic State

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Indonesia Mulls Tougher Approach Against Islamic State

New moves expected as government looks to counter the movement’s growing threat

Indonesia Mulls Tougher Approach Against Islamic State
Credit: Flickr/ Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

Indonesia is looking to toughen its approach to combating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) in the coming months amid the movement’s growing threat, according to a report by The Straits Times.

According to the Singapore-based newspaper, Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo met with Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Law Minister Yasonna Laoly and National Police Chief General Sutarman to discuss new anti-terrorism measures on January 13.

Speaking after the meeting, Tedjo indicated that Jokowi had agreed to issue a regulation allowing authorities to revoke the passports of citizens who support the ISIS.

“We will revoke the passports of those who plan to go abroad to join ISIS and those who are already abroad with ISIS. They cannot be allowed to come home,” Tedjo reportedly told The Straits Times.

As The Diplomat reported previously, Indonesian officials have said that the recruitment of ISIS fighters from Indonesia has soared over the past few months, raising questions about what might happen once these militants return home. Indonesian laws currently still do not allow authorities to charge or detain ISIS supporters who leave to fight for the movement, and the proposed regulation would at least strengthen the ability of law enforcement to deal with this problem.

The meeting also reportedly discussed improving deradicalization measures and tightening security in prisons.

“Terrorism inmates must be more closely monitored in prison. They are now allowed to receive visitors. We will have to fix this,” Laoly, the Law Minister, said.

Indonesian prisons have long been notorious for their poor monitoring of convicts. As the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict pointed out in a report last year, Aman Abdurrahman, a central figure in spreading ISIS ideology in Indonesia, was actually conducting his activities from inside a maximum security prison complex in the country, including translating and posting statements on the Internet.

The report recommended that the incoming Jokowi administration strengthen the capacity of the Indonesia’s prisons to avoid similar incidents.

While government officials have repeatedly admitted that it is difficult to keep exact numbers, Indonesian media report that more than 350 Indonesians have joined ISIS in the past two years. While some of them have left from Indonesia, others were students or migrant workers who had already been living in neighboring Middle Eastern countries and departed from there.

The ISIS threat in Indonesia appears to have risen in the past few months, with reports of an ISIS presence growing in Poso, Central Sulawesi, and the U.S. and Australian embassies issuing alerts warning of potential terrorist attacks in Indonesia earlier this month.