Support ISIS, jailed Indonesian terror leader tells followers

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Jailed Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the spiritual leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and founder of its reincarnation Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), has reportedly instructed his followers to support the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Jakarta Post reported on Monday, July 14, that Ba’asyir, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 for terrorism offenses, conveyed the message after he gathered high-ranking JAT leaders and his family members on Thursday, July 10, in the maximum-security Pasir Putih prison in Nusakambangan. The support may reportedly come in the form of helping fund the ISIS movement and preparing JAT members to fight in Syria. 

“JAT is the new camouflage of JI,” Ansyaad Mbai, the chief of Indonesia’s National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) told Rappler in 2012. “It has the same leader, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, and most of the key figures of JAT are also JI. So I call this the new jacket of JI.”

JI is the terrorist network that carried out the deadliest attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people. Most of JI’s members followed Ba’asyir, including the remaining Afghan-trained JI members. (READ: Indonesia’s evolving terror networks)

ISIS recently announced it was establishing a "caliphate" extending from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in Iraq – regions where ISIS has fought against the regimes in power. A caliphate – an Islamic form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire – is the stated goal of jihadists. (Read: Southeast Asian recruits join jihadist ISIS)

In a recent interview, Ansyaad told Rappler ISIS will be more dangerous than Afghanistan.

“We know the situation in Syria and Iraq is now very serious with so many weapons, and we know that ISIS had some military training for their fight to establish this islamic caliphate. They will be more skillful,” he said.

Indonesian National Police Chief General Sutarman recently said at least 56 Indonesian citizens have joined ISIS, and Ansyaad said some of them have already returned from Iraq. The fear is that fighters from Syria – like the Bali bombers – will return home and carry out attacks using tactics they honed in battle.

A source told Rappler that recruitment for ISIS in Indonesia is being carried out by a foundation located just a hundred meters from Ngruki, Central Java, where Ba’asyir ran the Al Mukmin pesantren that was also said to have recruited jihadists.

“All militants going to Syria or to Iraq are recruited by NGOs,” Ansyaad said. “They use various names, but we know these are just covers. The main sources are linked to JI or JAT or NII [Negra Islam Indonesia or Indonesian Islamic State].

“Once they launch the issue of caliphate, there is no more difference between them. This is their common goal,” he said. – Rappler.com