Jihadist menace on NT’s border
INDONESIAN intelligence chiefs say they are battling an unprecedented surge in extremism with 500,000 activated jihadists on the Northern Territory’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 NT News 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.
“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. That tight, focused hate resulted in the bombings which 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 is an underestimate. One recent survey suggested 11.5 million 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 above-ground 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 in southern Philippines.
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.