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ISIL endorsement video in Indonesia draw public anxiety

Publication Date : 01-08-2014

 

A recent video recruiting Indonesians to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has raised concerns, with officials and experts calling to raise public awareness to counter the jihad issue.

In the eight-minute video uploaded on YouTube titled “Join the Ranks”, a man named Abu Muhammad al-Indonesi makes an impassioned speech in Indonesian, saying it is an obligation mandated by Allah for Muslims to participate in the fight. In the video, Abu is accompanied by a group of men holding firearms — some wearing military attire. English subtitles are included in the video, with a woman chanting Arabic words in the background.

The video was uploaded onto the site after several other videos emerged voicing local support for the rebel group that has occupied parts of Iraq and Syria.

The Foreign Ministry’s deputy of foreign cooperation, Harry Purwanto, said two Indonesian laws prohibited citizens from joining resistance movements in foreign countries.

“The Citizenship Law says that a person will lose citizenship if, among other (reasons), he or she joins a resistance group against the legitimate government. (While) Article 139A of the Criminal Code also states that a person who joins a resistance movement against the legitimate government can be jailed,” Harry told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on Thursday.

Communication and Information Ministry spokesperson Ismail Cawidu said that the ministry had yet to receive requests to block access to YouTube or to remove the video.

He said the ministry would not urge YouTube to remove the video even though the country’s two largest Islamic mass-organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, had deplored the video. “There has been no report to this day.”

The National Police have expressed concern over the videos and growing support for ISIL, but said they could not ban them.

Harry said ISIL troops had been recruiting jihadists in the country since Indonesia sent humanitarian aid to Syria in 2012. Dozens of those recruited have engaged in warfare over the years, even recruiting other jihadists upon returning to Indonesia.

Harry said the hotspots of Indonesian hardliners also possibly serving as jihadist recruitment centres were Ciledug in Tangerang, the State Islamic University in Ciputat (South Tangerang), Bekasi (West Java), Surakarta (Central Java), Malang (East Java) and Bima (West Nusa Tenggara).

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Ansyaad Mbai recently said that terrorist convict Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and his network had been actively helping ISIL by seeking donations and recruiting fighters over the past couple of months.

The BNPT estimates that at least 30 Indonesians are involved in the jihadist movement in Iraq under ISIL and in Syria under Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), a prominent Salafi jihadist organisation with links to al-Qaeda.

Terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail said Indonesia needed to create a counter-narrative against the arguments of ISIL supporters on social media to prevent cyber terrorism, arguing that ISIL’s method of using social media could be very effective, given that many jihad activists in Indonesia were interested in living in an Islamic state, or caliphate.

“The most important thing is to provide the counter-narrative against their [ISIL] arguments,” Noor told the Post in his email.

Noor added that they had grown smarter in their campaigns — not only focusing on violence, such as bombing or shooting their opponents, but also proposing positive activities such as religious sermons and providing wages for the soldiers.

“So, the prospective members will think that joining ISIL will be different from joining a terrorist organisation like al-Qaeda; it will be more like joining an Islamic caliphate,” Noor said.

Noor later also urged the government to draft a law to prohibit Indonesians from engaging in military training outside the country as a preventive measure.


 

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