In­done­sia has 500,000 hard­lin­ers ‘ ac­ti­vated for ji­had’

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - PAUL TOOHEY

AN ARMY of 500,000 jihadists is poised on Aus­tralia’s doorstep as In­done­sian in­tel­li­gence chiefs warn their coun­try is see­ing an un­prece­dented spike in rad­i­cal­ism.

Huge num­bers of In­done­sians sup­port a caliphate ei­ther in Syria or at home and are fur­ther in­creas­ing 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 Tele­graph 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’,” which refers 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 sev­enyears-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, when 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. Now, home­made and highly un-

sta­ble 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 — be­ing peo­ple ready to fight the gov­ern­ment or com­mit acts of ter­ror — is un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the prob­lem. 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 mil­lion Mus­lims in In­done­sia,” Aus­tralian ter­ror ex­pert Greg Bar­ton said.

“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.

“On a pos­i­tive side, 85 per cent sup­port Pan­casila (the coun­try’s found­ing demo­cratic prin­ci­ples). But it means 15 per cent don’t.”

The in­tel chiefs are closely watch­ing the con­flict in Marawi in south­ern Philip­pines, given the fatwa for ev­ery able per­son to get to Syria or the Philip­pines and, if that failed, to at­tack any gov­ern­ment worker at home.

They added that Myanmar’s 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 (pic­tured far left), an IT ex­pert who is fight­ing in Syria, and Aman Ab­dur­rah­man (right), 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,” an in­tel chief said.

“Right now, women are be­com­ing rad­i­calised be­cause they are re­ceiv­ing di­rect or­ders from Bahrun, who wants to make women and chil­dren fight­ers for IS.”

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