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Indonesia’s counter-terrorism force arrests man for sending citizens to Syria to join the IS group

Indonesia’s counterterrorism force Densus 88 has arrested a man suspected of sending Indonesian citizens to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group

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IS Recruits
Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. Wikimedia
  • Indonesia’s counter-terrorism force Densus 88 has arrested a man suspected of sending Indonesian citizens to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group
  • Fauzan was captured thanks to a failed attempt to send seven other Indonesians to Syria via Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Sept. 22, Boy explained
  • According to the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, some 800 Indonesian citizens had joined IS by the end of 2015
  • Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, thinks that economic inequality is a reason for driving people toward IS

Oct 03, 2016: Indonesia’s counter-terrorism force Densus 88 has arrested a man suspected of sending Indonesian citizens to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group.

“He was arrested at 8 o’clock this morning in Bekasi, West Java,” National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told journalists in Jakarta on Wednesday. He gave the initials of the suspect, A.R., and an alias, Abu Fauzan.

Fauzan four times sent Indonesian nationals to join IS in Syria, Boy said. Three of the departures took place from October-November 2015. The fourth was in January 2016.

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“His expertise is in preparing, motivating and provisioning people who want to go, and teaching them techniques for lying if they are caught,” Boy said.

Fauzan was captured thanks to a failed attempt to send seven other Indonesians to Syria via Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Sept. 22, Boy explained.

Three of the seven were arrested and have been named as suspects while the other four are being classified as witnesses. Fauzi’s role was uncovered during interrogation of the three suspects.

“They said they were getting orders from Abu Fauzan,” Boy said.

Fauzan and the three other suspects were charged under Law No. 15, 2003 on Combatting Criminal Acts of Terrorism. Convictions under the law carry sentences of up to 15 years.

Linked to Bahrun Naim?

Police said they were still investigating whether Fauzan was working for Bahrun Naim or for Bahrumsyah, two Indonesian IS figures based in Syria who are jockeying for influence within the group, analysts believe.

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Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, said Fauzan was likely a follower of Bahrun Naim, who is suspected of having masterminded an attack in Jakarta in Jan. 2016 that left eight people dead.

Damaged Police Box caused by suicide bomb attack in front of Sarinah Building, Jalan MH Thamrin. Location of Sarinah-Starbucks terrorist attack in Central Jakarta, 14 January 2016.
Damaged Police Box caused by suicide bomb attack in front of Sarinah Building, Jalan MH Thamrin. Location of Sarinah-Starbucks terrorist attack in Central Jakarta, 14 January 2016. Wikimedia

“They’ve known each other for a long time. From when there were both in Poso,” Chaidar told BenarNews, referring to a regency in Central Sulawesi where the militant group Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) is based.

MIT’s numbers have dwindled to less than a dozen after its leader, Santoso, was killed in July following a months-long military operation there.

Prevention

According to the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, some 800 Indonesian citizens had joined IS by the end of 2015. The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) puts the number at around 500.

The data discrepancy is not surprising, according to BNPT spokesman Irfan Idris. People who go to Syria do so via illegal routes, and their numbers are therefore hard to know exactly.

People are still joining IS in Syria due to its propaganda, circulated in books, websites and social media, he added.

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Indonesia law currently allows people to be arrested only after they carry out acts of terrorism. “So we are asking for a revision of Law No. 15, 2003, so that it can be used for prevention” Irfan said.

“If that happens, people suspected of spreading radical ideology can be sanctioned. The dissemination can be stopped.”

But in Chaidar’s view, economic inequality is also driving people toward IS.

Interest in joining the IS is not solely triggered by ideology, but also the lure of a salary, he said.

“Economic recovery is the key” to removing that motivation, he said.

(BenarNews)

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New, Endangered Orangutan Species Found in Indonesia

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Orungutan

Oslo, November 2, 2017, 9:17PM : A new species of orangutan has been identified in remote Indonesian forests and immediately becomes the most endangered type of great ape in the world with just 800 individuals, scientists said on Thursday.

The Tapanuli orangutan, found only in upland forests in North Sumatra, differs from the other two species of orangutan in the shape of its skull and teeth, its genes, and in the way the males make long booming calls across the jungle, they said.

“The differences are very subtle, not easily observable to the naked eye,” Professor Michael Kruetzen of the University of Zurich, who is part of an international team, told Reuters.

“With no more than 800 individuals, this species is the most endangered great ape,” the scientists wrote. Apart from humans, great apes comprise orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos.

The Tapanuli orangutan had probably been isolated from other populations for 10,000-20,000 years, the researchers wrote in the journal Current Biology. The population had been known by scientists since at least 1997 but had not previously been considered a separate species.

The Tapanuli orangutan faces threats including from forest clearance to make way for mining or palm oil plantations. The region also had plans for a hydro-electric dam.

The scientists urged quick conservation measures. Otherwise, “we may see the discovery and extinction of a great ape species within our lifetime,” they wrote.

Laurel Sutherlin of Rainforest Action Network, who was not involved in the study, said the finding “must also serve as a wake up call to all of us from consumers, to global food and paper brands, to investors and local and national governments” to protect forests.(VOA)

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Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

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Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)

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Iraqi Army continues Offensive on Islamic State to Regain Hawija, Anbar

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IS clamed territory Hawija in Iraq
A black sign belonging to Islamic State militants is seen on the road in Al-Al-Fateha military airport south of Hawija, Iraq.

The Iraqi army and its allied Shi’ite militias continue to press for the last pockets of Islamic State in Hawija and Anbar.

In a news conference held in Geneva, on 3rd October 2017, U.N. spokesperson Jens Laerke, said that an estimated 12,500 civilians have fled their homes in Hawija since the start of the Iraqi operation on September 21 and nearly 78,000 people could still be trapped in their homes as the fighting reaches densely populated areas.

Hawija

Hawija is a Sunni-majority city in the al-Hawija district with a population of about 100,000. It had a population of 500,000 before IS took control in mid-2014 as many residents fled the violence.

Iraqi army and allied Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces claim the fight for Hawija has entered its final stages as they recently gained a strategic foothold in the district by capturing an air base from IS on Monday. The base, known as Rashad air base, is about 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Hawija and serves as a training camp and logistic base for IS in the region.

Anbar

In western Iraq’s Anbar province, where the Iraqi army launched a separate offensive last month against IS, the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration said it has identified more than 8,500 newly displaced people, raising the number of displaced in the province to more than 54,000 since January 2017.

“People newly displaced from their homes often arrive dehydrated, suffering from hunger and thirst,” said IOM’s Hamed Amro. “Many require psychosocial support and need medical care. Some have chronic illness and exacerbated conditions due to a long-term lack of care, and others suffer from malnutrition. We have also received a few trauma cases.”

Commanders on the ground say IS has set fire to oil wells and has forced civilians who remained to serve as human shields to inhibit airstrikes. (voa)