East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) is linked to the Islamic State. Their leader, Santoso, was killed last July in an all-out police and army operation. The current leader, Ali Kaliora, allegedly was the author of the murder of one of the victims and the one who gave the order to burn Christian homes. Some houses were used as places of worship. The condolences of the religious communities and the silence of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The four Christians killed and beheaded in the village of Lemban Tongoa, in the district of Sigi (Central Sulawesi) were murdered by a terrorist group called East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) confirmed Prof. Mahfud, Minister for Security Affairs.
The attack took place on 27 November last. The police chief of the area, Gen. Rakhman, specified that “the names of the four Christian victims are Yasa, alias Yata, Pinu, Naka and Pedi. The authors are eight terrorists under MIT leader Ali Kaliora”.
All the victims were peasants. Mahfud also said that it was Ali Kaliora who slaughtered one of the victims and ordered that many homes of Christians in the area be burned.
The funeral was held two days after the massacre, on November 29 (see photo).
Ties with the Islamic State
At least 100 police and army officers launched a manhunt to track down the terrorist group. Mahfud explained that there are still MIT members in Poso loyal to the group’s top leader, Santoso, who was killed by a special team last July in the Tinombala operation. Santoso, whose nom de guerre was Abu Wardah, was also de facto leader of the Islamic State in Indonesia. The group is implicated in several attacks on police in central Sulawesi.
Operation Tinobala was launched in 2016 in order to eliminate the MIT from various areas, including the Poso district.
Last night in a video message, Mahfud asked all religious communities not to react to the provocations related to the brutal murder. He also confirmed that MIT did not burn any churches. But it is also true that among the burned houses, some of them were used for worship by the local community of the Salvation Army (Protestant Salvation Church), to which the victims belonged.
Many communities, Christian and non-Christian, have expressed their condolences and prayers for the victims of the Central Sulawesi Salvation Army. Some of them are amazed by the silence of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. They point out that for the Nice assassination, Widodo expressed his closeness to France; instead, for this murder he remains silent.
But people who know him best say that his silence "does not mean that he is not worried about the killings". As a Javanese, he “doesn't talk too much. But it does things seriously and does not need 'publicity operations', exploiting the situation with public statements ".
History of violence
The district of Poso (Central Sulawesi) was at the center of brutal conflicts between radical Christians and Muslims between 1999 and 2001. The "Poso riots", as they are defined, became even more violent after Indonesian jihadist groups, who were fighting in the Philippines, joined Muslim groups in Sulawesi. These formed the group that chose the name of Mit. In this way, Poso also became the cradle of many radical groups.
The ethnic-religious clashes officially ended with the signing of the Malino Accords in 2001 and 2002, but the region has remained plagued by terrorist activity to this day.
For a fact sheet on the historical, geographical and ethnic situation of Sulawesi, see here.