Family of Indonesians repatriated from Syria had pledged allegiance to ISIS: Densus 88

JAKARTA - The Indonesians who recently claimed they had escaped from a camp run by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Raqqa, were loyalists of the militant group, according to a police source.

The group of 18, said to be a family from Jakarta, were repatriated from Syria and arrived at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on a Qatar Airways flight on Saturday (Aug 12).

They were immediately detained and are now being questioned by police investigators from Indonesia's elite counter-terrorism unit known as Densus 88.

"They had pledged allegiance to ISIS when they were there and had been indoctrinated, so we want to conduct a thorough investigation," a Densus 88 commander told The Straits Times on Sunday.

The officer cannot be named due to the nature of his work.

"They had claimed to have been duped, saying they are innocent but we don't want to just believe them," he added. "So we want to know in detail, how were they 'offered' to go to Syria, who contacted them first, and whether any of them were part of a terrorist network in Indonesia," he added.

Indonesia has been hit by several terrorist attacks, including a strike in the capital Jakarta on Jan 14, 2016, by domestic militants loyal to ISIS. More than 500 Indonesians are also believed to have made their way to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.

Earlier reports had said the family comprised 17 Indonesians and included teenagers and women with infants.

But a police operations report seen by The Straits Times indicated that the Qatar Airways flight, which landed in Jakarta at 3.30pm local time on Saturday, was carrying 18 Indonesians.

They comprise three men; six women; five teenagers, three of whom were girls; three children and an infant.

The family had left Indonesia in August 2015 and found their way to the ISIS camp in Raqqa, where they stayed about 40 days, before the militants threw them in detention cells.

This happened after the Indonesian men in the group refused to bear arms and fight for ISIS.

They were held in isolation within the camp for more than a year, but managed to escape with the help of "a third party" on June 10 this year, said the police last Friday.

According to an Associated Press report earlier last week, the family left Jakarta for Raqqa two years ago, intending to live in what they regarded as the capital of ISIS.

They also told the news agency how their dreams were crushed after they witnessed the brutality and terror of ISIS militants.

The Straits Times understands that the group will not be released after questioning by the police but will have to undergo a deradicalisation programme run by Indonesia's National Counter-terrorism Agency (BNPT).