Indonesia freezes foreign funding for terrorism

The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) has detected and frozen a total of 13 transfers worth tens of billions of rupiah from abroad believed to have been intended to finance the activities of Indonesian terrorists this year.

"From 2010 to 2015, there were 45 [transfers] detected, 13 of which were discovered in 2015. The recipients of the foreign money were mostly local foundations in Indonesia," PPATK chairman Muhammad Yusuf said on Monday.

Yusuf said that Australia was one of the countries that channeled funds for terrorists in Indonesia, adding that a joint investigation conducted by authorities in Australia together with the PPATK had found that an Australian identified as "L" had engaged in fund raising to support terror activities in Indonesia.

"We have identified that the money [from Australia] came from alms and donations from individuals in the country. Some of them were aware of what the money was for but some were not because they just gave away the money believing that it was for charity," Yusuf said.

Yusuf further said that Australian authorities had confirmed that "L" was listed as one of the most dangerous persons in Australia.

Yusuf said there were 1,300 foundations in Indonesia that the PPATK had identified as connected to illegal funding from abroad.

Yusuf added that part of the terror money from Australia had been channeled to a firebrand Indonesian cleric named Muhammad Iqbal Abdurrahman, also called Abu Jibril, whose son died in Syria, adding that "L" had duped financial authorities in Indonesia by labelling some of the transfers as "research funds".

In April, the KPK also announced that it had frozen as many as 20 bank accounts, containing billions of rupiah, belonging to al-Qaeda and Taliban affiliated terrorist groups operating in Indonesia.

Around 17 of the bank accounts were held by individuals who were believed to have connections to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Another three accounts were registered under the names of NGOs supporting radicalism in Indonesia.

The US Treasury Department in September 2014 listed terrorist group Jamaah Islamiyah's (JI) humanitarian wing, the Hilal Ahmar Society of Indonesia (HASI) and three other Indonesians as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT).

The three Indonesians are Angga Dimas Pershada, a JI operative and HASI leader, Bambang Sukirno, a senior JI leader, who, over a number of years, has held various senior leadership positions within JI and Wiji Joko Santoso or Abu Seif, who is the head of JI's foreign affairs division and a key player in JI's outreach efforts in Syria.

PPATK deputy chairman Agus Santoso said that apart from Australia, countries from the Middle East also channeled terror funds to Indonesia, noting that the 13 bank accounts that PPATK had frozen had received funds from Middle Eastern countries. Agus refused to give details on the Middle Eastern countries.

"The transfers from abroad were channeled to one individual in Indonesia and then later that particular Indonesian funneled the funds to other individuals linked to terror activities in Indonesia," Agus told reporters on Monday.

Agus further said that the individuals receiving the money were mostly women, adding that such a technique was employed by senders in order to dupe authorities so that they would fail to make connections between the money and terrorism in Indonesia.

In order to prevent the influx of terror funds to Indonesia, the PPATK called on the Financial Services Authority (OJK) to tighten requirements for foreign nationals residing Indonesia opening bank accounts.

"We don't want a situation in which the flexibility of opening accounts in Indonesia [by foreign nationals] could be used as a gateway for channelling [terror funds from abroad]," Agus added.