Donations via social media now main source of terrorism funding in Indonesia

Donations are coming from members and supporters of terror cells through social media.
Donations are coming from members and supporters of terror cells through social media.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Terrorism financing in Indonesia have shifted from illegal activities such as motorcycle theft and robbery several years ago, to legal activities such as donations and self-funding.

And donations are coming from members and supporters of terror cells through social media.

This new trend in financing, which has made it more difficult for the authorities to detect and trace, started around 2015, based on a recently completed white paper mapping the risk of ISIS-affiliated domestic terror financing activities.

The paper was jointly prepared by the anti-money laundering agency (PPATK), Indonesia's intelligence unit (BIN), and Indonesia's national counter terrorism agency (BNPT).

Since 2015, the authorities have rated financing via donation by members of terror cells, donation via social media, and self-funding as high-risk. This means there is a high chance of occurrence, and security officers should give it the utmost attention, said the white paper, which aims to help the authorities fight terror financing.

Donation via an organisation, as well as motorcycle thefts are now considered medium-risk, while fundraising through illegal drug trading is rated low-risk, or have the least chances of occurrence.

"The rise of the use of social media is because it is easy to open a social media account and anyone can use a bogus identity easily, giving the authorities challenges to identify and trace. The reach of social media is so vast, that the potential of the terror cells to raise funds is huge," the white paper says.

"Terror activities need financing to procure weapons, to mobilise, to send people and to hold exercises," BNPT chief Insp General Suhardi Alius said in his speech at the recent launch of the white paper, a copy of which was released only by the government on Wednesday (Oct 18). "We have to cut the supply of funds."