Arrested foreigners not Turks, no clear link to ISIS

ATA, Zul Sikumbang
Arrested foreigners not Turks, no clear link to ISIS


National Police Chief Gen. Sutarman said the 4 foreigners arrested were carrying fake Turkish passports, were speaking Uighur language, and were related to the terrorist network led by Santoso

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The 4 foreign nationals arrested for suspected terrorism links in Indonesia over the weekend were apparently not Turkish nationals, nor is it clear they’re connected to the jihadist Islamic State group, contrary to early reports.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar told Agence France-Presse on Sunday, September 14, that the elite anti-terrorism unit Densus 88 arrested on Saturday 4 Turkish men, along with 3 Indonesians, in Poso, Central Sulawesi. He also said they were being investigated for their connection to the dreaded Islamic State group, formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

But on Monday, National Police Chief Gen. Sutarman said they determined that the 4 foreigners were carrying fake Turkish passports and were speaking Uighur language.

Uighurs are a Muslim Turkic ethnic group living primarily in China’s restive, far western region of Xinjiang. Rights groups and analysts accuse China’s government of cultural and religious repression, which they say fuels unrest in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

“They arrived in Cambodia by sea, and from there traveled by road to Thailand. From Thailand, they got forged passports for approximately $1,000 each,” Sutarman told lawmakers from House of Representatives Commission III, which handles legal and security issues. 

“From there, they flew to Kuala Lumpur, and from there flew to Bandung, and from Bandung to Makassar.”

The group was then picked up by 3 Indonesians at the airport. Police previously said they attempted to flee to the mountains of Poso before they were captured.

Poso’s mountains are home to the militant Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or East Indonesia Mujahideen), led by the country’s most wanted terrorist, Santoso.

“Whether they are associated with ISIS is not yet clear,” Sutarman said. “The relationship is with Santoso’s existing network of terrorists in Poso, which are on the police’s wanted list.”

National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman also said on Sunday there was no clear link yet between the 4 men and ISIS, except that they are “from the Middle East”.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has been closely monitoring ISIS-related movements in the country. While the jihadist group has been denounced by the government, religious leaders, the public at large, and even Indonesian radicals, it has the support of some Indonesian extremists.

Authorities estimate that dozens of Indonesians have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the militant group, with analysts and officials all saying their return is a cause for concern.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Sunday he appreciated the work of Densus 88, adding that acts of terrorism have no place in Indonesia. “Let us all work to ensure our country is peaceful, and that our people get protection and security,” Yudhoyono said ahead of a closed-door cabinet meeting.

Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for legal, political and security affairs, said Indonesia would closely monitor foreign nationals from the Middle East traveling to known hotbeds of extremist activities, such as Poso, East Java, Central Java and Ambon. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/

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