JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Indonesian National Police has started to disclose the extent of the role played by Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah [JI] militants during the Syrian Civil War which tore apart the country since 2011.
Indonesian National Police spokesman Inspector General Argo Yuwono announced that the militants sent to Syria were “fully trained in particular skills. Some were skilled in management and IT, while others were skilled in medicine, linguistics and self-defense,” he said on Monday, January 4. “Their training is comparable to special forces.”
Argo added that the information was based on the confessions of Para Wijayanto, a senior JI operative or Amir who is currently serving a seven-year jail sentence following his arrest in the city of Bekasi, West Java province, in 2019.
“The militants trained in self-defense for six months before leaving for Syria. They also learned additional military skills such as bombmaking, driving tanks and operating heavy weapons during as they served in the frontlines and guarded Syria’s borders,” he added.
“Their training in self-defense and other skills were acknowledged by the various militant factions in Syria, such as ISIS, Jabbah Nusrah, the Ahror [Syrian Brigade], the Free Syrian Army, as well as Tahrir al Sham.”
Argo disclosed that JI has sent seven militants to Syria between 2013 to 2018. “JI spent Rp. 300 million [$21,532.12] to send each volunteer to Syria,” he noted. “The costs came from donations by JI members or supporters.”
Argo added that “All young JI volunteers sent to Syria are given a will. If they died as ‘martyrs’ there, their families will be compensated.”
The National Police, particularly its Detachment 88 [Densus 88] counterterrorist unit, has cracked down on JI during a series of arrests throughout Sumatra in 2020.