8 arrested in Indonesia for spreading IS propaganda

8 arrested in Indonesia for spreading IS propaganda

The National Police announced that they had officially detained eight suspects out of 10 arrested in March for allegedly spreading propaganda of the Islamic State (IS) movement and recruiting members to send to war-torn Syria.

National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the men had all been officially detained after undergoing a week-long interrogation at the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, West Java.

"The police feel that those who have been arrested were actively involved in facilitating and recruiting people to travel [to Syria]," he said.

Rikwanto said that the eight men were suspected of agreeing to help terrorist activities and of assisting in taking over an area from the government of another country.

They are charged with conspiracy according to Article 15 in conjunction with Article 7 of the 2003 Terrorism Law and for collaborative acts to help separatist movements in other countries as stipulated in Article 139 (a) of the Criminal Code (KUHP).

The men could face life imprisonment if found guilty of the charges.

In March, the police force's counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, arrested 10 men in Greater Jakarta and East Java after receiving information that they were involved in the IS movement.

The 10 included three men from Malang, East Java - Abdul Hakim Munabari, Helmi Aalamudin and Ahmad Junaedi - who had allegedly returned from Syria after spending an extended time with IS.

At the time of their arrest, the police said that the three men had travelled to Syria with Salim Mubarok Attamimi alias Abu Jandal al Yemeni al Indonesi, an IS supporter who appeared in a YouTube video making threats against the Indonesian Military (TNI) and several Muslim organisations in Indonesia.

In an interview with the Post, Junaedi said that he had been interested in going to Syria to help his Muslim brethren but was sorely disappointed when he found out that his five-month stint abroad was mostly spent guarding a small village for little pay.

Meanwhile, Rikwanto said that two men arrested in Greater Jakarta, Furqon and Yusrizal, had been released after undergoing interrogation.

"The investigators could not prove that the two men were involved in recruiting or facilitating IS supporters' travel to Syria and were released," he said.

Separately, Noor Huda Ismail, founder of the Institute of International Peace Building, told the Post that the official detainment of the eight suspects was a step forward in eradicating terrorism in the country.

"There is now a legal basis to act on [the spread of IS] and a step forward for our country because it means that there are clear consequences to such terrorist offences," he said.

However, he noted that the country would still have to face three challenges after naming and detaining the men as suspects.

"First, there will be the challenge of convicting the suspects in court with strong evidence. Second, we have to consider our prison system and third, we have to consider what we will do with terrorist convicts once they have served their sentences," he said.

The government has been more vigilant on the growing spread of IS influence in the country, with more Indonesians fleeing to Syria to join the group.

The efforts include increasing surveillance on the Internet and raids on suspected radical groups.

Previously, terrorist group members have been prosecuted with similar articles from the Terrorism Law.

The KUHP's article on acts against separatist movements in other countries, however, is being used together with the law on terrorism for the first time to charge IS supporters.

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