2 alleged ISIS supporters detained by Indonesian police

PHOTO: Reuters

The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Police have detained two people for further investigation after they were arrested last week in Alor regency for allegedly encouraging local residents to join the radical Islamic State (IS) movement.

The two arrestees, identified as Zakarias Kiri and Syamsuddin Uba, have been undergoing a series of interrogations at NTT Police headquarters in Kupang since Friday, soon after they were transferred from Alor on the same day.

"During initial examination, the suspects claimed to be traditional healers. However, we found that they had [information about] IS activities and IS flags on their laptops. We also found IS paintings displayed on the wall of their room," NTT Police general crimes director Sr. Comr. Sam Kawengan said on Sunday evening.

According to Sam, Zakarias and Syamsuddin had been arrested on July 28 by Alor Military Command and Alor Police personnel in Baranusa sub-district for allegedly disseminating radical IS teachings among local residents.

Syamsuddin, who hails from Bekasi, West Java, is suspected of being involved in the militant group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), which is regarded as the most prominent supporter of IS in Indonesia. Police seized a number of items, including pamphlets, a laptop, rubber stamps, flash disks, cassettes and other documents.

The police decided to transfer the two suspects from Alor to Kupang due to security concerns. "I declined to reveal that they had been transferred from Alor as it could incite a public reaction because they are believed to be involved in IS," Sam said, adding that NTT Police were also coordinating with the National Police and its Densus 88 counterterrorism unit to follow up the case.

Earlier this year, the authorities reported that more than 600 Indonesians had already joined IS in Syria or Iraq.

On Sunday, hundreds of youths representing several local organizations visited NTT Police headquarters to express their opposition to the IS presence in NTT.

"We don't want to see any individuals disrupt the tolerance and harmony that has been maintained," said the Association of Islamic Students (HMI) Kupang chapter leader Kamaruddin.

The leader of the Indonesian Christian Students Movement (GMKI) Kupang chapter, Amos Lafu, claimed the two detainees had claimed, among other things, that people who voted in the upcoming local elections were kafir (infidels).

"The statement is very misleading. We don't wish particular parties to purposely take advantage of the local election in the province to create conflict," Amos said.