BNPT Urges Joko to Ban Travel to Conflict Zones


MARCH 19, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia's National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has urged President Joko Widodo to issue a regulation in lieu of law, or perppu, prohibiting Indonesians from traveling to "conflict-prone" countries.

BNPT spokesman Irfan Idris said on Thursday that aside from security reasons the law was needed to halt radicalisation.

The request comes at a time of heightened concern about Indonesians fighting with foreign forces overseas, namely the Islamic State militia in Syria and Iraq, then returning to Indonesia.

Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) says an estimated 500 Indonesians have joined IS, with some believed to have returned. Other government figures have given different numbers for the number of Indonesians who have traveled to join IS.

Irfan said a perppu had become more urgent after 16 Indonesians were recently detained while trying to cross to Syria from Turkey to join the Islamic State.

He said the government needed to move swiftly to contain the problem.

"If there's a group of people threatening Indonesian sovereignty and spreading hatred or rebellion, action must be immediately taken," Irfan said.

Approving the request would bring Indonesia in line with neighboring Australia, which has banned its citizens from travelling to conflict zones, such as those in Syria and Iraq.

Any Australians found traveling to areas declared off limits could be jailed for up to 10 years.

In September last year, the United Nations demanded that all member states make traveling abroad to fight with terrorists or undertake training a serious criminal offense.