Police announced on Friday (18/08) the arrest of an influential Islamist cleric for his alleged involvement in the coordinated attacks near the Sarinah shopping mall on Jalan M. H. Thamrin in downtown Jakarta in January 2016. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A.)

IS-Related Extremist, Militant Groups Still a Threat in 2017: Lawmaker

BY :YUSTINUS PAAT & EKO PRASETYO

JANUARY 01, 2017

Jakarta. The House of Representatives’ Commission III Chairman Bambang Soesatyo said Islamic State still poses the most serious threat to Indonesia's national security in 2017.

Bambang said the government would do well to keep abreast of how the extremist group fares after their recent defeat in East Aleppo, Syria.

"If the Syrian and Russian armies continue to press forward, it is possible that IS troops will escape the region. We should be worried about that," Bambang said in Jakarta on Saturday (31/12).

The lawmaker agreed with recent claims by Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that IS wants to establish a new base in southern Philippines to expand their so-called caliphate, which will also incorporate Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.

"Dozens of IS sympathizers have already returned to Indonesia. We have to make sure that they are going back to their normal lives and not continue to be IS operatives," Bambang said.

According to Bambang, Indonesia should learn from the failures of the Iraqi and Syrian governments in fighting the threat of IS. Indonesian military and police should be given full authority to round up IS sympathizers in Indonesia.

"If we do nothing to counter IS' plan to build a base in South East Asia, we will face even greater security threats," he said.

Local terror cells gearing up for IS' advance

Bambang said there is enough evidence that terror cells in Indonesia have welcomed IS’ plan to build its new base in South East Asia.

Local extremist groups have openly shown their opposition to the Indonesian police, Bambang pointed out.

"They've deliberately targeted police officers. And don't forget that IS leaders now have an Indonesian wingman. This man had reportedly masterminded the Thamrin attack and the [foiled] suicide bomb attack on the State Palace recently," he said.

"IS sympathizers should be arrested and punished. We simply can't have an IS base in South East Asia," Bambang said.

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