JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist was killed after a gunfight between the militant Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or East Indonesia Mujahideen) and task force Tinombala according to police.
Santoso, alias Abu Wardah, who leads MIT, died on Monday, July 18. MIT has pledged allegiance to ISIS and has claimed responsibility for past terror attacks.
“It’s definitely Santoso,” Central Sulawesi police chief Rudy Sufahriadi told AFP, after a process to identify the militant’s body.
“I have hunted him and I have arrested him before, we have asked people and we have sent people (to identify the body) who fought with him and went on jihad with him,” Sufahriadi said.
“They have confirmed it was him.”
On Monday, Sufahriadi was not willing to confirm the death but said some characteristics fit that of Santoso’s.
“We do not know the identities. Our members said one had a mole on the cheek. Santoso has a mole,” he said.
Santoso’s death is considered a success for the country’s counterterrorism efforts as police and military have tried for many years to find him.
The threat posed by ISIS in Southeast Asia is comparatively small, but real, and it has the potential to become larger if not addressed properly. It is clear that ISIS reinvigorated existing terror networks in the region. (READ: ISIS’ global ambitions and plans for Southeast Asia)
In the region, the center is Indonesia, the world’s 3rd largest democracy with more than 250 million people, the lynchpin of Southeast Asia. It also has the world’s largest Muslim population and has suffered the deadliest terrorist attacks in the region since the Bali bombings in 2002.
They were carried out by Jemaah Islamiyah and its offshoot groups, homegrown terrorists with funding, training and inspiration from al-Qaeda. Its latest incarnation is ISIS.
Since January, two bombings have taken place in Indonesia, at least one of which has been claimed by ISIS. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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