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Indonesia's campaign vs ISIL gets big boost

Publication Date : 08-08-2014


Nationwide efforts to clamp down on the movement supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, in Indonesia got a much-needed boost on Thursday with the country's top Muslim clerical body, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), issuing a call warning Muslims against joining the rebel group.

Following a meeting with scores of Muslim groups on Thursday, MUI chairman Din Syamsuddin said ISIL was a violent and radical movement that tarnished the image of Islam as a peaceful religion.

“We call on Islamic organisations to step up their vigilance and to guard against the group’s [ISIL] efforts to use them,” Din said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Din said, however, that the MUI did not have to issue an edict to declare ISIL as haram (unlawful under Islamic law).

“There is no need for us to declare ISIS as haram because it is obvious that ISIS stands against Islamic teachings,” Din said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Military (TNI) Comr. Gen. Moeldoko said the military would get tough on ISIL.

“Show us ISIS flags and we will burn them,” Moeldoko said in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

Moeldoko said there would be no mercy for organisations that attempted treason.

“There’s only one flag for us, red and white. There is no other,” he said.

The National Police said it had intensified its investigation into individuals and groups who had been suspected of supporting the rebel group.

The East Java Police have dispatched a team to probe an invitation circulating on the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service that calls on all Muslims to attend a declaration of support for ISIL, scheduled for Aug. 17 at an Islamic Center in Sidoarjo, East Java.

“It could just be a rumour, but we are anticipating the event. Our intelligence has kept a close eye on the ISIS declaration plan,” East Java Police spokesperson Comr. Sr. Awi Setiyono said.

Awi added that the police had also launched an inquiry into a group named Ansharul Khilafah, which allegedly pledged its allegiance to ISIL at an event at the Jami’ Sulaiman Mosque in Malang, East Java, on July 20.

“The group’s coordinator, M. Romli, denied the accusation, saying that it was only an event for breaking the fast and praying for Palestine. So far, we have not found enough evidence to name him a suspect,” he said.

Similar ISIL declarations have reportedly occurred in other cities, including Surakarta, Central Java; Bekasi, West Java; and South Tangerang, Banten.

A group, which has named itself the Islam Sharia Activists Forum (FAKSI), recently declared its support for ISIL at an event on the campus of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) in Ciputat, South Tangerang.

UIN deputy rector, Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim, confirmed that the event took place at the campus’ Syahida Inn Hotel but denied that the university had been involved in the event.

“Syahida Inn is open for business. It turns out that this radical group rented one of the rooms to declare their support for ISIL,” he told a press conference on Thursday, adding that the university would take measures to prevent such an incident from occurring again.

Sudarnoto also said the university supported the government’s efforts to eradicate the ISIL movement in the country.

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) prevention, protection and deradicalization division deputy head, Agus Surya Bakti, said that his agency would step up coordination with colleges and universities in response to the ISIL declaration at UIN.

“The youth, especially college students, are the main targets of recruitment for radical groups like ISIL. We need to be cautious about this. The BNPT should inform universities’ officials and rectors about the [nature of the] threat and how to prevent it,” Agus said.

One Indonesian student who has joined the rebel group is Bahrumsyah, also known as Abu Muhammad Al-Indonesi, a UIN dropout.

Also on Thursday, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi issued a directive ordering all regional heads to actively join the efforts to detect and eradicate ISIL movement.

“The regional heads are also obliged to inform citizens about the perils of ISIL,” the ministry’s spokesman, Didik Suprayitno, said.


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