JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The government has discovered that a group of Indonesian nationals detained after attempting to cross the Turkish border into Syria, allegedly to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, comprises mostly children.
The group of 16 includes one man, four women and 11 children, said Coordinating Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno.
They are currently being held in the Turkish border city of Gaziantep, 97 kilometres north of Aleppo, Syria.
The women had said that they were going to Syria to meet their husbands, according to Tedjo, but the government could not confirm if their intention was to join ISIS.
This is the second group of Indonesians recently found trying to enter Syria from Turkey, a route frequently used by potential ISIS recruits.
Last week, a group of 16 Indonesians from three families deviated from a tour group after clearing immigration in Istanbul. They claimed they had family matters to attend to but failed to rejoin the group on their March 4 return date.
Turkish authorities have detained the three families, according to Reuters. They are held at a holding centre and in touch with the Indonesian embassy, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in a statement.
National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Marciano Norman said that a team comprising foreign ministry officials and BIN officers have headed to Turkey to investigate the two groups.
Marciano said there are several possible motives for Indonesians to join the militant group. "Some join the rebel group to work there because of a promise of high salaries while others really want to join the (ISIS) fight," he said.
Tedjo said he has been tasked with monitoring the movement of Indonesians into Syria to join ISIS, as "there are concerns that they might influence others".