Indonesian president calls for vigilance on Islamic State

Indonesian president calls for vigilance on Islamic State
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono has warned the country against being complacent in its fight against terrorism and says the Islamic State (IS) organisation, also known as ISIL, is a clear and present danger.

Yudhoyono took a break from his weekend holiday on Sunday to chair a Cabinet meeting to discuss a variety of issues, including the ISIL threat.

"We should not let our guard down and think the danger is only overseas or in the Middle East. If we are not vigilant and do not do anything, such violence could happen here," Yudhoyono explained.

"We have to be pro-active in finding out what we can do here in Indonesia together with the international community to stop the violence and this human tragedy," he said.

Vice President Boediono, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) Chief Lt. Gen. (ret.) Marciano Norman and National Police chief Gen. Sutarman attended the meeting.

Yudhoyono convened the Cabinet meeting only hours after the National Police revealed they had arrested seven suspected militants, including four individuals thought to hail from Chinese Turkestan, who they believed were planning to join a jihadist group in eastern Indonesia with possible links to IS.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said on Sunday that the four foreigners were captured late on Saturday in the town of Parigi Moutong, Central Sulawesi, on their way to Poso, a neighbouring mountainous district that is believed to be a terrorist hotbed.

He said the authorities were tipped off about their whereabouts after police arrested three suspected Indonesian militants hours earlier in separate raids near Parigi Mountong, as part of their search for the country's most wanted terrorist suspect, Abu Wardah Santoso.

The police seized IS symbols and documents from these individuals and were questioning them to determine possible ties to international jihadist groups.

Parigi Moutong Police deputy Comr. Sirajuddin Ramli said the arrests were made after the Parigi Police, in collaboration with the police's Densus 88 counterterrorism unit, conducted a sweep in the city early on Saturday when a minibus with a Jakarta license plate had sped up after being told to stop.

The police pursued the bus and fired shots at it, prompting the vehicle to stop in Marantale village, Parigi Moutong.

Officers then arrested three Indonesians in the car, while the four foreigners escaped.

According to Boy, the three Indonesians under investigation at the Central Sulawesi Police headquarters are Saiful Prianta, a teacher; M. Irfan, a farmer; and Yudit Chandra, a rental car driver.

"Irfan and Yudi's role was to pick up the four foreigners from Makassar Airport, while Saiful is suspected of hiding a fugitive terrorist, Mochtar," said Boy, adding that Mochtar had links to prominent Indonesian terrorist Santoso.

Convicted terrorist Santoso, radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and several other radical figures in the country are known to have pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi.

Boy said the four foreigners, who were later arrested, were identified as Ahmed Bozoghlan, A. Basyit, A. Bayram and Azubaidan.

On Saturday, they were transferred to the National Police Mobile Brigade's (Brimob) detention centre in Depok, West Java, for investigation.

"From the foreigners we have seized Bozoghlan's [fake] Turkish passport. We suspect the other three [are from Chinese Turkestan], but we still need to verify that," Boy said.

He added that the police were still having difficulties communicating with the four foreigners, as none spoke Indonesian or English, and had yet to establish their backgrounds and their purpose in Indonesia.

"But I think it won't be long before we obtain some information from these individuals," Boy said.

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