Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Indonesia turns to China as ethnic Uyghurs join would-be jihadists

Indonesian authorities are working with their counterparts in China to stem a flow of ethnic Uyghur militants seeking to join Islamist jihadists in the world's most populous Muslim country, Indonesia's counter-terrorism chief said.

Saud Usman Nasution, who heads Indonesia's National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said Tuesday that several Uyghurs had responded to a call last year by Santoso - Indonesia's most high-profile backer of the ­Islamic State (IS) group - to join his band of fighters.

Nasution's comments come amid mounting concern in Indonesia about possible attacks by IS sympathizers following the terror-related arrests of 13 men on the island of Java, including a Muslim Uyghur with a suicide-bomb vest.

The appearance of Uyghurs from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Indonesian militant networks is likely to add to Beijing's concerns that exiles will return to their homeland as experienced and trained jihadists.

Islamist militants and separatists operate in Xinjiang on the borders of central Asia, where violence has killed hundreds in recent years.

IS and human trafficking networks help aspiring jihadists to travel via Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia to Santoso's hideout in an equatorial jungle of eastern Indonesia, said Nasution. However, the would-be suicide bomber arrested on December 23 was hiding in a house just outside Jakarta.

"We are cooperating with China and investigating evidence such as ATM cards and cellphones," Nasution said, adding that an Indonesian team went to China to interview members of the man's family.

  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Wednesday that she is not aware of an Indonesian team's visit to China, but she emphasized that China is strengthening cooperation with other countries to crack down on transnational crime.

"We will cooperate with related countries to fight resolutely against those who breach international conventions or laws on illegal immigration and human smuggling," Hua said.

  By Reuters - Global Times Source:Reuters-Global Times
6-7/1/16

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