The authorities in Singapore have deported four Indonesians believed to have been en route to the Middle East to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.
A source familiar with the case told The Straits Times yesterday that the four suspects, including a 15-year-old boy, were arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint as they were making their way into Singapore from Johor.
Identified as Muhammad Mufid Murtadho, Untung Sugema Mardjuk, Mukhlis Koifur Rofiq and Risno, they are linked to radical ideologue Aman Abdurrahman, said Indonesian national police chief Badrodin Haiti yesterday.
Police investigations seem to indicate that Aman might have ordered the Jan 14 attack in Jakarta from his jail cell in Nusakambangan prison, but it is unclear if the three men and boy deported from Singapore are involved in the hit on the capital.
The four were handed over to Indonesian police on Batam island on Sunday shortly after they were stopped at Woodlands.
Barelang City police chief Helmy Santika told reporters in Batam that they were detained by Singapore immigration officers because of their suspicious travel pattern. He added that they had taken the ferry from Batam to Singapore several days ago, before heading to Johor. "After only three hours there, they returned to Singapore," said Commissioner Helmy.
They were questioned for five hours in Batam before being moved to Jakarta under heavy guard. Commissioner Helmy said investigations are under way to determine how the four were planning to get to Syria. "If there are links to the ISIS network, we will coordinate with Densus 88," he said, referring to Indonesia's elite police counter-terrorism unit, known as Detachment 88.
The four are from Jakarta, Bekasi in West Java and Purbalingga in Central Java - two of them are related. All had also gone on the mini-Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca three times, with one of them having been to Syria, where he remained for several weeks, added Commissioner Helmy.
The government plans to set aside 1.9 trillion rupiah (S$198 million) to beef up the ranks of Densus 88, following last month's siege on the capital. Indonesian police have arrested at least 25 suspects with links to the recent attack in Jakarta.
Indonesia, which is home to the world's largest Muslim population, is also set to pass new laws to give security agencies more powers to tackle terrorism. The final draft of the Bill was approved by President Joko Widodo and may be enacted by Parliament as early as April.