Caliphate next door

In­done­sia fears half-mil­lion ji­hadis

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - PAUL TOOHEY paul.toohey@news­com.au

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.

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