05/22/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Many of the 24 suspects arrested in Central Sulawesi, a province in Indonesia, with alleged links to a pro-Islamic State militant group wanted to join another extremist group whose decimated membership has dwindled to two, Indonesian police said Wednesday without disclosing details.
The suspects are members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a domestic militant network affiliated with IS, said Sr. Commissioner Arif Budiman, the head of an operation tasked with hunting down the last remaining holdouts from the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) group in the mountains and jungles of Central Sulawesi province.
“All of them are members of JAD. Various pieces of evidence were seized,” Arif told BenarNews, adding that the arrests were a “pre-emptive” move to stop them from joining the two MIT fugitives and carrying out acts of terrorism.
Arif said the 24 suspects were being held in Poso, a regency in Central Sulawesi where MIT militants accused of carrying out beheadings and bombings have been most active.
MIT is one of two pro-IS groups operating in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. The other is JAD, which Indonesian authorities have blamed for most terror attacks in the archipelago nation during the past six years.
Earlier this week, national police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan said that some of the two dozen suspects had pledged allegiance to the overall IS leader, Abu Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, through the WhatsApp messaging service. Al-Qurayshi died during a counter-terrorism raid by U.S. special forces in Syria this past February.
According to Ramadhan, some of the suspects had sought to deliver food and other supplies to the MIT militants on the run or had withheld information about them.
Police seized eight rifles, silencers, a revolver, and hundreds of bullets from the suspects.
On Wednesday, police also said they had arrested two more JAD militant suspects, bringing to 26 the number of people who have been detained since Saturday.
“Both are Poso residents and supporters who wanted to join MIT,” Provincial police spokesman Didik Supranoto told BenarNews, without providing details on accusations against them.
Authorities believe MIT’s strength has been reduced to two people after security forces killed Suhardin (also known as Hasan Pranata) during a gunfight in the Parigi Moutong regency last month.
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