03/19/2015, 00.00
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The presence of children in the ranks of the Islamic State group rattles Indonesia

by Mathias Hariyadi
A video showing children, age 8 to 11, undergoing military training is currently being vetted by military intelligence. In it, a boy is seen declaring himself ready for "holy war" to "annihilate the enemies of Allah." Syria is now the battleground for Indonesian extremists. The father of one of the girls recently arrested in Turkey commits suicide.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation in the world, a video showing children, age 8 to 11, undergoing military training for the Islamic State group to fight for the jihad has rattled high-ranking officials in the country's intelligence services and government as well as among civil society groups.

What is particularly shocking is the sight of an Indonesian boy (pictured) swearing allegiance to the group, saying that he is "ready to go to holy war to annihilate the enemies of Allah."

The two-minute video also shows several young men, marching and shouting they want to become "warriors of God".

Towards the end, a boy of about 10 years says, with pride, that he knows how to shoot and easily take apart and put back together an AK-47.

Indonesian intelligence forces are examining each frame of the video posted on the Internet.

Indonesian Intelligence Chief General Norman Marciano has not yet confirmed the boy's identity or nationality, but admitted that checks were underway.

For now, the area where the video was shot and where jihadists train remains unknown. 

Meanwhile, the father of one of the girls recently arrested by the Turkish authorities, because they were trying to enter illegally into Syria to join the Islamic State group, took his own life. Originally from Bandung in West Java, he killed himself by ingesting some toxic liquid.

According to Chep Hernawan, a leading Indonesian extremist, at least 156 Indonesian citizens - from different cities in the country - were recently recruited for Syria and jihad.

The Islamist leader added that sending "fighters" to the Middle East was also a way for a safer Indonesia, because it prevents "suicide attacks or jihadist missions at home. At present, Syria is our battlefield".

As already reported by AsiaNews, Southeast Asian Islamic fundamentalist movements and leaders have found inspiration in the exploits of Mideast Sunni fighters and back their struggle for the creation of the Caliphate, which now branches out into various regions of Asia.

Extremist cells and recruiters are active as much in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, as in neighbouring Malaysia and the Philippines. Jihadists are operating in these countries, preparing attacks against pubs, discos and bars, dreaming of the Islamic caliphate.

So far, there are no official figures for the number of Indonesians in Jihadist ranks in Iraq and Syria. However, according to some police estimates at least 30 people are fighting with the terrorists, mostly "ex-convicts and criminals".

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