Indonesia has asked the United States government for clarification after Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, the head of the military, was prevented from boarding a US-bound flight on Saturday afternoon (21/10). (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Military Chief Says ISIS Sleeper Cells in Indonesia Can 'Wake Up Anytime'


JUNE 16, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said intelligence officials have identified Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sleeper cells in at least 16 locations in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

"It is just a matter of time before they 'wake up,'" Gatot said at the House of Representatives complex in Jakarta on Thursday (15/06).

The general warned security in the country could be severely compromised if it does nothing to stop ISIS-affiliated fighters from entering Indonesian territory from Marawi City in the Philippines, where they are engaged in a standoff with Philippine security forces.

"As I said before, ISIS wants to build a Southeast Asian base in the southern Philippines," Gatot said. "In Indonesia, we've identified ISIS sleeper cells in 16 locations."

The military, locally known as TNI, has beefed up patrols on islands located within Indonesia's sea border with the Philippines, Marore and Miangas.

Soldiers have also been deployed on extra air and sea patrols to prevent the Mindanao militants from escaping to Indonesia.

"We've shut down their escape route to Tarakan [in North Kalimantan] and to North Maluku," he added.

Gatot praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for saying last year he would forget about human rights to get rid of terrorists.

According to Gatot, 134 people have already been killed in the Marawi City standoff.

Watch Indonesia Highlights at 8 p.m. tonight on the Jakarta Globe News Channel to find out more.