Caliphate next door
Indonesia fears half-million jihadis
INDONESIAN intelligence chiefs say they are battling an unprecedented surge in extremism with 500,000 activated jihadists on Australia’s doorstep.
Huge numbers of Indonesians support a caliphate either in Syria or at home and are further spiking the country’s terror risk.
“There are 500,000 people already radicalised,” said one of several top intelligence officials in an exclusive background briefing to the Sunday Herald Sun in Jakarta.
“They are ready to fight democracy here or to go to Syria. “They are jihadists.” One intelligence boss added: “We now have children saying ‘taghut’,” referring to the accusation that anyone who does not follow Allah follows Satan and is a kafir.
“The biggest problem is when parents make someone who is seven years old into a mental monster through indoctrination,” he said.
“We have too many children coming from Syria. We are the first in the world to take back jihadists and put them through programs. We do not know what the result of that will be.”
The intelligence chiefs said the battleground had long shifted from Bali 2002, when Southeast Asian militant extremist Islamist terror group Jemaah Islamiah had a tight command structure and charismatic leaders gave one-on-one counselling in terror.
Each player was given a part and bomb-making was seen as an expert craft. Even that tight, focused hate resulted in the bombings that killed 202 people. Now, homemade and highly unstable TATP-type bombs could be made by anyone.
“Syria and the Islamic State doctrine is very different,” said one. “Now, they say you can attack any target, and this is very difficult to stop. It used to be one embassy or one hotel a year. Now they can come from anywhere, any time.”
According to some surveys, the figure of 500,000 jihadists — people ready to fight the government or commit acts of terror — is an underestimation. One recent survey suggested 11.5m Indonesians were prone to radicalisation.
“The absolute numbers may seem incredible, but it doesn’t surprise me across the 210,000,000 Muslims in Indonesia,” said Australian terror expert Greg Barton.
“Unlike Australia, there are aboveground movements with extreme edges and it’s a very problematic dynamic. It’s not going to be easy to shut them down.”
The intel chiefs are closely watching for blowback from the conflict in Marawi, southern Philippines, given the fatwa for every able person to get to Syria or, if not, the Philippines; and, if that failed, to attack any government worker at home.
They added that the Rohingya crisis would have a “deep impact” in Indonesia, with local jihadists using attacks on the Muslim minority in Myanmar as an excuse to attack the government in Indonesia.
Asked to name the most dangerous Indonesians, they chose Bahrun Naim, an IT expert who is fighting in Syria, and Aman Abdurrahman, currently held in Nusakambangan over the January 2016 attacks in Jakarta, saying they were “one and the same” when it came to influence.
“Aman spreads the ideology, Bahrun spreads the skill of bomb-making,” said an intel chief.