Indonesia detains 17 over alleged IS links

Jakarta: Indonesian authorities have detained 17 nationals upon their arrival from Turkey over the weekend for their suspected links with the Islamic State terror group, local media reported on Monday.

The detainees, including eight women, were intercepted and taken into custody on Saturday at Jakarta airport by immigration agents and counter-terrorism unit Densus 88, Efe news reported.

“They’re still undergoing interrogation at (the police’s Mobile Brigade detention centre) in Kelapa Dua by Densus 88,” police spokesman Awi Setiyono said.

Director General of Immigration Agung Sampurno said the detentions were a standard procedure for people arriving from conflict areas.

However, a report in a local newspaper noted that other Indonesian passengers on the same flight were not detained.

In recent months, Indonesian police have strengthened surveillance at border checkpoints on people returning from the Middle East and have busted various terror plots.

Last week, eight Indonesians were deported from Malaysia after being arrested while attempting to enter Singapore with photos linked to IS.

With more than a dozen people arrested, the counter-terrorism unit dismantled in December two groups that planned to bomb the presidential palace of Jakarta during the Christmas season.

According to police, the mastermind of those plans was Indonesian national Bahrun Naim, one of the chiefs of Katibah Nusantara, an IS brigade consisting of Malay-speaking militants from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Indonesia’s intelligence service believes that around 500 of its citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join IS, 100 of whom have already returned to the country.

IS plans to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia.