photo: Indonesia's anti-terror police escort four suspects who were flown from Sulawesi island to Jakarta on September 14, 2014. (AFP/Bima Sakti)
JAKARTA: Foreigners could again become the target of militant attacks in Indonesia as extremists there pledge loyalty to the Islamic State group, a think-tank warned on Wednesday (Sep 24).
In a report, the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) also warned that Indonesian and Malaysian fighters who have joined IS in Syria appear to have formed a military unit there, likely strengthening militant networks in Southeast Asia.
After a series of attacks on foreigners in the last decade, Indonesian extremists have in recent years directed their violence at domestic "enemies of Islam", mostly police. There have been no attacks against foreigners since the 2009 twin hotel bombings in Jakarta which killed seven people.
But a series of influential radical clerics and Islamist organisations have pledged support for IS, and extremists seeking approval from leaders of its self-declared caliphate may heed a recent call to attack Westerners, according to the report.
IS spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani in a video on Monday called on followers to kill Westerners whose countries have joined the US-led coalition against IS - in particular Americans and the French. The US has carried out air strikes in both Syria and Iraq, while France has carried out strikes over Iraq.
"The overall capacity of Indonesian extremists remains low, but their commitment to (IS) could prove deadly," said IPAC director Sidney Jones.
IS, which has beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, has attracted the support of almost all the would-be militants still committed to waging jihad on Indonesian soil, the report said. It has, however, generated outrage and rejection from the mainstream Muslim community.
Based on social-media monitoring and interviews, IPAC said an IS Indonesian-Malaysian military unit has been formed, reportedly aiming to establish an archipelagic Islamic State group in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia and Malaysia, among others in the region, are struggling to prevent nationals from going to Syria and Iraq as fighters and trying to monitor their return.
The report outlines how support for IS stemmed from the involvement of a few Indonesians in a radical online discussion group run by the founder of the UK-based group Al-Muhajiroun in 2005.
IPAC called for a strengthening of the country's prisons system. It described jailed radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman as the thread connecting all parts of Indonesia's pro-IS network despite being in a maximum security facility. Abdurrahman has been able to translate