01/27/2016, 19.36
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Some 200 Indonesians join Islamic State as the authorities continue hunt for Jakarta bombers

by Mathias Hariyadi

Army and Navy Special Forces have joined the police to hunt for suspected mastermind, Bahrum Naim, and Santoso, the country’s Most Wanted, who is hiding in the jungle near Poso among friends.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – At least 200 Indonesians have joined the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria in recent days, this according to Police Chief General Badrotin Haiti, who spoke before the Third Commission (Legal affairs and laws, human rights and security) of Indonesia’s lower house (People's Representative Council).

The estimate comes from the intelligence services, who followed suspects and their attempt to promote the caliphate in Indonesia. This is a sign that IS has been already operating in the country for some time.

Bahrum Naim, a terrorist who wants to prevail over other South-east Asian terrorist groups, has been blamed for the attacks on 14 January in Jakarta.

Security forces have launched a manhunt to capture him as well as Indonesia’s Most Wanted, Santoso, also known as Abu Wardah. The latter is hiding in ​​Poso, Central Sulawesi.

Army and Navy Special Forces have joined the police in the hunt for Santoso. However, the area where he is hiding is hard to reach because it is mountainous and tropical nature.

Complicating matters, General Badrotin Haiti noted that much of the local population is sympathetic to the group, which makes operations harder to conduct.

​​Poso has seen conflict before pitting radical Muslims against Protestants in 1999-2001. The authorities convicted and quickly executed three Christian men on false murder charges. Muslim extremists also attacked and beheaded three young female students.

Indonesian authorities estimate that IS has about a thousand active supporters, a very small number considering that the country it is the most populous Islamic nation in the world with 250 million people (87 per cent Muslim).

So far, some 600 Indonesians have reportedly gone to Syria to join the caliphate. Fifty are said to have died.

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