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ICC Note:

Facing the rise of Islamic radicalism, Indonesian police say they are stepping up security for Christmas. The article reports that there is a growing sympathy for ISIS’s cause among Indonesia’s local terror groups. Last week, 12 Indonesians who tried to reach Syria or Iraq as Islamic militants were arrested by Malaysian customs officers. Please pray for Indonesia.

12/17/2014 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe)- Indonesian police say they are stepping up security ahead of Christmas celebrations, in the wake of Monday’s hostage situation in Sydney and the arrest of 12 Syria-bound Indonesian nationals by Malaysian authorities. The group allegedly had plans to join the Islamic State terror organization.

Previous church bombings and terror attacks have prompted Indonesian security forces to regularly beef up security ahead of Christmas celebrations throughout the country.

This year, as reports emerge of growing sympathy for IS’s cause among local terror groups, police say they will take even greater precaution than usual.

“We’re making the necessary preparations for Operation Candle, which will run from Dec. 24-Jan.2 to safeguard this year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations,” National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday, referring to the police’s security operation regularly conducted during the December festivities.

“But we won’t rely on this operation alone. Densus 88 has also launched an intelligence operation,” he added, referring to the National Police’s anti-terror squad.

Densus 88 last week arrested two suspected terrorists, identified as Yono Adem and Farid Tinombo, in Poso and Parigi Moutong, Central Sulawesi.

Poso has gained infamy as the country’s terrorist hotbed with local militant groups, including the notorious Indonesian Mujahidin led by Santoso, the country’s most wanted terrorist suspect. He is believed to have been running paramilitary training facilities for militants who are then sent to conflict-ridden countries including Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Monday’s hostage situation in a Sydney cafe by a man who allegedly sympathized with the IS ideology may indicate Australia-based militants could also be part of a regional terror movement, Indonesian terrorism observer Dynno Chresbon said.

A high-ranking Indonesian police official is currently in Australia to discuss the archipelago’s concerns of rising sympathy for IS in the region, he added.

Last week’s arrest of 12 Indonesians by Malaysian customs officers raised further concerns of loopholes in the nation’s immigration procedures used by local Islamic militants to reach Syria or Iraq.

Southeast Asia nations enjoy a visa-free policy, needing only a passport to travel across the region.

Alarmingly, the group detained last Thursday reportedly included four women and five minors. One man has been identified as a former inmate who was sentenced on terrorism charges and “had just left the penitentiary,” Badrodin said.

At least 100 Indonesian nationals have left for Syria via Malaysia and then Istanbul to join the IS.

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