After taking over Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul, ISIS, a violent Muslim extremist group, declared areas it occupied as an Islamic caliphate. ISIS started to establish representatives in Indonesia, which has raised concerns that Indonesia’s “sympathetic support could turn into extremism — or worse, acts of terror.”
07/24/2014 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe)- The establishment of representatives of the Iraqi militancy group, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in Indonesia has raised concern, with analysts saying that the sympathetic support could turn into extremism — or worse, acts of terror.
Jihadist group ISIS has continuously advanced toward Baghdad in an effort to re-establish an ancient caliphate based on Islamic law, or Shariah, in Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean. The movement has claimed more than a thousand lives in Iraq and Syria.
More than 30 Indonesians have joined the jihadist movement fighting across the Middle East, and some of them have returned home to establish ISIS branches in Jakarta and West Nusa Tenggara.
Ansyaad Mbai, chairman of the National Anti-Terror Agency (BNPT) said support by Indonesian Islamist groups for ISIS was a violation of the law.
“Those who had declared their support by joining the jihadist movement in Syria or Iraq and then establishing Islamic State branches in this country blatantly disobey the law,” Ansyaad told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday. “There are even groups that had pledged bai’at [oaths of allegiance] to the ISIS leader [Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi]. This could also be categorized as a violation of the law.”
Imprisoned terrorist convict Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the spiritual leader of Indonesia’s extremist network, has also reportedly supported the establishment of local branches of the jihadist movement.
Before being jailed, Ba’asyir was the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah, a group behind the Bali bombings in 2002, which he left and went on to found Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT). Many of its members were involved and have been convicted of terrorism activities across Indonesia.
Having a similar goal with ISIS in Iraq, Ba’asyir and other extremists in Indonesia have long dreamed of creating an Islamic state, which once ruled the Middle East and its surrounding areas for over a thousand years.
“Although some had pledged their oath, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir himself had not pledged his bai’at but I could confirm that he strongly supports the movement,” Ansyaad said. “And supporting this ISIS movement goes against the citizenship law.”
Ansyaad cited the 2006 Citizen Law, which stipulates that “anyone who pledges an oath to any foreign country or any group based in another country would lose their Indonesian citizenship.”
He went on to say that the support also contradicts Article 139 of the Criminal Law, which declares that “getting involved with people or rebellious groups overseas that have an intention to overthrow the government is a crime” and can be legally punishable by imprisonment.
But senior lecturer Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defense University said the establishment of local branches does not necessarily mean that support will turn as violent as it has in Iraq and Syria. He added that support does not only come from the end of a gun.
“Regarding the poor situation now in Iraq, it could be one symbol of empathy of Islamic groups in Indonesia. As what they have declared, it’s a solidarity movement. It wouldn’t be something dangerous as long as they don’t commit anarchy or get involved in extremist activities,” Bantarto said.
“Yet, it would be a different story if the branches are used for defending political interests of the group or the interest of the one they’re supporting for. The BNPT should be on full alert with the activities of the ISIS branches. They have to anticipate the worse possible scenario from the establishment of an ISIS branch,” he continued.