09/15/2014, 00.00
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Indonesia, four Turkish citizens arrested for "ties" with the Islamic state

by Mathias Hariyadi

Indonesian extremists were also arrested in the operation; according to the authorities they may be active in the formation of local Islamist cells. Anti-terrorism squad say they were trying to contact Santoso, the most wanted man in the country. At least 66 Indonesian citizens are active in the jihad in the Middle East.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesia's anti-terrorist squad has arrested four Turkish citizens and certain local "elements", affiliated with the Islamic terrorist movements, in a raid that took place in Poso, Central Sulawesi province. The group was headed to Palu, the capital of the province. The four Turkish citizens are A. Basyit, A. Bozoghlan, A. Bayram e  A. Zubaidan;; the Indonesians Saiful Priatna alias Ipul, Yudit Chandra alias Ichan and Irfan, all natives of Palu.

The local group collected the foreigners in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi. On their journey from Turkey they stopped in Thailand, where they picked up some fake passports, before spending some time in Kuala Lumpur. The last stop was the capital of Malaysia until they stopped in Makassar; from here, on board of a minivan, they traveled to Palu, then Poso where they were captured by special forces. Boy Rafli Amar, deputy police spokesman, confirmed that the police have opened an investigation on the four Turkish citizens who were arrested, and their possible links with the Islamic State militia. The suspicion is that they were trying to get in touch with the Indonesian terrorist Santoso, the "most wanted" man in Indonesia, who is believed to be in hiding in a remote and mountainous area among the forests that surround the town.

The presence of foreign nationals active in the Islamist extremist fight  and their direct contacts with local militants - recently released from prison after serving a sentence - are a source of great concern for Jakarta. The fear is that the groups are involved in the formation of local cells of the Islamic State, ready to recruit elements for jihad in Syria and Iraq or to hit sensitive targets in the homeland. In fact police sources claim that at least 66 Indonesian citizens are operating in the Middle East, two of which are the protagonists of suicide attacks.

As AsiaNews recently reported, fundamentalist movements and local Muslim leaders been inspired by the exploits of the Sunni fighters and intend to support the struggle for the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, which has now been extended also to Asia. Extremist cells and members active in recruitment are present as much in Indonesia, as in neighboring Malaysia; its members are already operating in the area in preparation for attacks and targeted attacks against pubs, discos and bars "dreaming of the Islamic caliphate."

For some time the port town of Poso has been the scene of violence in denominational background: among them there were attacks on Christian buildings, including places of worship, and the murder that took place under mysterious circumstances of two law-enforcement officers. The police were investigating an attack against a leading member of the Christian community. Their bodies were found at a distance of eight days, on the edge of a road just off a training center of a group linked to Islamic fundamentalism.

Between 1997 and 2001, Christians and Muslims were involved in a violent conflict on Sulawesi Island and neighbouring Maluku Islands. Thousands of people died and hundreds of churches and mosques were destroyed. Thousands of homes were also razed. About half a million people found themselves homeless, 25,000 in Poso alone.On 20 December 2001, the two sides reached a truce that was signed in Malino, South Sulawesi, following a peace initiative by the government. The local population is evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Despite the peace deal, terrorist incidents continued on and leaving a trail of innocent victims. One of the most horrific cases, which caused indignation around the world, was the beheading by Muslim extremists in October 2005 of three Christian girls on their way to school.


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