Amid fears of growing support for the Islamic State (IS) movement, a money-laundering watchdog has detected inflows of funds from Australia to groups supporting the activities of IS in Indonesia.
Financial Transactions and Analysis Centre (PPATK) deputy chairman Agus Santoso said on Monday that the agency had been working with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), and had discovered that some of the funds used by IS in Indonesia had originated from Australia.
"We have detected supporting funds from an Australian source to terrorist networks in Indonesia," Agus said during an international conference on IS organised by former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Hendropriyono.
"I cannot discuss it in much detail but we have given this information to Densus 88 for further investigation. Although I cannot disclose the amount, I can confirm for sure that the amount does not reach the millions of dollars," Agus said. Densus 88 is the National Police's counterterrorism unit.
The PPATK is prohibited by law from publicly disclosing detailed information of its intelligence and data gathering. However, detailed disclosures tend to be eventually shared publicly by law enforcement agencies and courts of law.
Australian Embassy spokesman Linda Kemp would neither confirm nor deny if AUSTRAC had detected IS-related funds. "The Australian government values the long-standing co-operation between AUSTRAC and the PPATK," she stated.
Following the overseas arrests of a number of Indonesians attempting to join IS in Syria and Iraq, the government has upped the ante in its fight against the proliferation of IS influence.
Densus 88 arrested on Saturday five people who allegedly facilitated the travel of 16 Indonesians recently detained by Turkish authorities for intending to cross the country's border to join IS in Syria.
Among the five detained was M. Amin Mude, who was previously accused of masterminding an attempt to send six people from Makassar to join IS late last year. The six were arrested by Malaysian authorities while transiting in Kuala Lumpur.
Indonesian and Turkish authorities are cooperating to track down another group of 16 Indonesians who went missing while on a group tour in Istanbul.
Indonesian authorities estimate that more than 600 Indonesians have already joined IS in Syria or Iraq.
Acting National Police chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti said the five arrested men were still being questioned about their role, but added that investigators strongly suspected that they were also involved in spreading IS propaganda.
The police believe that the men arrested are part of an IS-linked group founded by master recruiter and ideologue Aman Abdurrahman, who is detained at the same prison as terrorist spiritual leader Abu Bakar Ba'asyir on Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap, Central Java.
University of Nanyang terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna said that 19 of the 27 militant groups in Southeast Asia that had declared their support for IS were from Indonesia.
He noted that militant group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) was the most prominent supporter of IS in Indonesia, especially since JAT chairman Ba'asyir called on followers to support IS in July last year.
"Last week JAT actually renamed itself to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah. This group is going to be the main platform, the main umbrella group, under which other militant groups can join and fight against the Indonesian state and other countries," Gunaratna said during the conference.
He urged the government to waste no time in banning around 200 IS-related websites in Indonesia in order to curb further radicalization.
"IS' biggest strength is social media and Southeast Asians love social media. Governments must invite service providers like Google, Twitter and Facebook to take down certain content," he argued.
Gunaratna stressed that IS was a huge threat, with around 20,000 fighters, and would grow in strength if proper legislation were not put in place.
Unlike in Malaysia and Singapore, where IS supporters can be charged and detained upon their departure to the combat zone, local authorities still have no legal basis to detain suspected departing fighters, despite the government's vocal condemnation of IS.
"There is an urgent need to issue a regulation in lieu of law or a revision to the Terrorism Law so that we have the legal basis to outlaw IS. We've agreed to stop the spread of IS influence, but we don't have the legal basis to do so," Badrodin said.