Jakarta (AsiaNews) - It has yet to make any startling conquests in the Asian nation, but the Indonesian section of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has already started mass recruitment - as recently reported- in over 16 provinces of the archipelago. In particular, Aceh, the westernmost and majority Muslim area, is turning into a sort of haven for Sunni extremists, with the active brainwashing and indoctrination, especially of young people. According to a survey published in the local Serambi newspaper, in at least 21 districts of Aceh there is a massive infiltration of militants, as thousands took the oath of allegiance to the head of the Caliphate, the fundamentalist leader Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi.
Last week, a man identified as Abu Jundullah said to be the head of the Islamist movement in Aceh; the foundation of the group dates back to the 1st January 2014, as the leader says "we are not the Indonesian branch of IS, but act directly under the leadership of Al-Baghdadi and we are all inhabitants of Aceh".
For the Indonesian Islamic leader Jundullah the presence of an Islamic State is explained by the "great work" done in Syria and Iraq; most affiliates in Aceh are jihadist veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and violent inter-religious conflict in Ambon and Moro, the Moluccas, 1999-2002.
He adds that the goal is to transform all districts of Aceh into "chapters" of the Islamic state "before 2015" and work has already begun with propaganda campaigns in the countryside.
At the same time the number of Muslim religious leaders in Aceh, who condemn the presence of affiliates of IS in the province is growing; dozens of ulema and experts in Islamic law preach against the seizure of power by the Islamists. Jakarta is also stepping up its warnings with the head of counter-terrorism - Gen. Ansyaad Mbai - confirming the "fertile ground" found by the international jihadist movement in some provinces of the country, with particular attention to recruiting.
In recent days, special units carried out a series of raids in the district of Ngawi, in the province of East Java, detaining two suspects; they also seized guns, ISIS flags and a book praising the jihad.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is increasingly the scene of attacks or episodes of intolerance towards minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or other faiths. In the province of Aceh - the only one in the Archipelago to apply Islamic law (sharia) - following a peace agreement between the central government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), and in many other areas (such as Bekasi and Bogor in West Java) the version of Islam practiced by citizens is becoming more radical and extreme.