Monday, April 6

Jokowi bans Indonesians who joined IS in Syria from returning home

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Joko Widodo – AFP file photo

KUCHING: Indonesian president Joko Widodo has banned Indonesian nationals who have joined the Islamic State (IS) movement in Syria from returning home, a news report said.

The Jakarta Post reported that the president, who is also known as Jokowi, had called those who left the country to join the fight as “ex-citizens.”

He also instructed his aides to immediately sort out their identities and put them on the immigration database.

The report said the move was as a result of the government’s decision not to repatriate some 689 Indonesian IS supporters currently stranded abroad, for the safety of Indonesians at home.

“During the Cabinet meeting [on Tuesday], I gave an order to identify each of the 689 people, including their names and where they came from.

“Once the data is completed and put into an immigration database, we can ban them from entering [the country],” Jokowi said in the report yesterday.

Jokowi’s stand is in sharp contrast with that of Malaysia where it had been previously reported that the country could bring back its citizens who had joined IS in syria.

According to a Bernama report end of last month, there were 56 Malaysians comprising 19 men, 12 women, 17 boys and eight girls have been detained for terrorism in various camps in Syria.

Former Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism (E8) deputy director general Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay had said in the  report that two women, five boys and a girl had sought assistance to return to Malaysia.

Jakarta Post also reported yesterday that Jokowi, when asked about the fate of the Indonesian IS sympathisers now that they could not return, replied that joining IS “was their own decision” and that “they would have calculated” the risks from doing so.

“We will still provide opportunities for orphans [to return home], those who are children under 10 years old…But so far we still don’t know if there are any,” he said as quoted by Jakarta Post.

Ayob Khan, who is now Johor police chief, had also explained in the Bernama report that Malaysian men who had joined IS would be arrested by the police and charged in court on their return from Syria.

“Children and women will be subjected to special investigations using the services of psychologists and religious practitioners to assess their ideology and we will find answers for their reasons for going to Syria, whether they were forced or duped.

“If there is enough evidence, the women will also be charged in court,” he said

He also said that while 120 Malaysians were known to have travelled to Syria since 2014 to engage in terrorism, there has been no recent attempt by anyone to go there to engage in such activities.