Jakarta. The Islamic State terror group plans to transform the restive area of Poso in Central Sulawesi into one of its strongholds in Southeast Asia, police said on Monday (28/03).
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan said officers have found documents, linked to the global terror group, detailing plans to make Poso more like Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. Mindanao is the stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which used that region as a fertile recruitment and training ground for terrorist cells across Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.
"That's why we are conducting a massive operation [in Poso]. We managed to get that document. Don't let Poso become like Mindanao," Anton told reporters at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Monday, as reported by Detikcom.
Poso is well known as the home of Indonesia's most-wanted terrorism fugitive Santoso, the leader of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), who has pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.
Santoso's group has been running a terrorism training camp, attracting militants from far-flung areas such as China's Xinjiang province, home to that country's Uighur Muslim minority.
Last week, the United States blacklisted Santoso as a "specially designated global terrorist," following his part in backing the Islamic State movement. Any US assets he might possess will be frozen and US citizen are banned from having any dealings with him. This also opens the way for US law-enforcement action against him.
Around 2,500 military and police personnel are currently looking for Santoso and his group as part of Operation Tinombola 2016, which commenced in January.
Writing by Edo Karensa; editing by Nivell Rayda