Indonesia fears attacks by returning ISIS fighters

SINGAPORE -- The Indonesian government remains concerned about the threat posed by the self-described Islamic State, despite the group's recent territorial losses in Iraq and Syria including the ceding of the key city of Ramadi to the Iraqi army in late December.

"Indonesia is very vulnerable," said Dewi Fortuna Anwar, an adviser to Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, airing Jakarta's fears that Indonesian members of IS could return home to carry out terrorist attacks.

"We are exploring the role played by religious leaders to develop counter narratives," Anwar said, discussing the ideological appeal of the extremist group to hundreds of Indonesians thought to have travelled to Iraq and Syria in recent years. Anwar was speaking in Singapore at a regional forum organised by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Indonesia is home to 210 million Muslims -- more than any other country -- and tens of millions of Indonesians are members of two mass Muslim organisations, known as the Muhammidiyah and the Nahdlatul Ulama. The latter has campaigned loudly against IS, which it describes as promoting a "shallow" interpretation of Islam to justify violence.

This article first appeared here.