Jakarta. By disseminating fake news, the so-called Muslim Cyber Army, or MCA, sought to spread anxiety and distrust toward the government, police officials said during a press conference, which was broadcast live by Metro TV on Monday (05/03).
Last week, six members of the group, including a lecturer, were arrested in Jakarta, West Java, Yogyakarta, Bangka Belitung, Bali and Central Sulawesi. They libeled individuals and disseminated hoax news about attacks against Muslim clerics.
Among 45 stories that the group published in social media in February, 42 were fabricated to spur hate and fear, the National Police's head of social affairs, Insp. Gen. Gatot Eddy Pramono, said.
He said the police's cybercrime unit determined that some members of the MCA's inner circle used to be active in another hatemongering group, the so-called Saracen syndicate, which was uncovered last year.
MCA was trying to create an impression that a broad offensive against Muslim scholars was ongoing in Indonesia.
"This group has a political motive. By spreading hoaxes, they hoped to discredit the legitimate government," Gatot said.
According to the head of the cybercrime directorate at the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim), Brig. Gen. Fadil Imran, MCA was also trying to ignite fear by saying that communism was on the rise in Indonesia.
"The perpetrators who were with the MCA, are also former [members of the] Saracen," Fadil said, adding that investigators are still working to find the group's mastermind.
Separately on Monday, Chief Security Minister Wiranto said the government will "weed out" those who spread fake news and hate speech, as it now has a special inter-institutional team to deal with the problem.
In cooperation with Interpol, the police sent investigators to South Korea, where other members of the MCA's inner circle are operating, Bareskrim's intelligence unit head, Chief. Comr. Ratno Kuncoro, said during a seminar in Jakarta last week.
One of the arrested told Metro TV that the group only wanted to target social media accounts that, according to them, were insulting Muslim clerics.