Indonesian held over ISIS link 'a former ministry official'

JAKARTA • An Indonesian man detained for allegedly trying to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group in Syria with his family is a former Finance Ministry official who studied in Australia, the authorities have said.

The family of five, including three children, were detained on the island of Bali on Tuesday after being deported from Turkey following their arrest on suspicion of planning to cross into Syria to join the militants.

The Indonesian Finance Ministry yesterday identified the man as Triyono Utomo, an economist who had worked in two departments at the ministry. The 39-year-old completed his bachelor's degree in Indonesia, then went to study in Australia, receiving his master's degree from Flinders University in Adelaide in 2009, the ministry said.

"In February 2016, he resigned as a public servant from the Finance Ministry because he wanted to manage a boarding school for orphans," said ministry spokesman Nufransa Wira Sakti. "After that, he could no longer be contacted."

The ministry said it would not provide him with legal assistance.

Police say the former official and his family left Indonesia for Turkey in August, planning to head to Syria.

Hundreds of radicals from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, have flocked to the Middle East to fight for ISIS, and the authorities have detained a number on their return home.

Seventeen Indonesians were arrested last weekend after being deported from Turkey due to suspicions that they were trying to reach Syria to join the militants.

The emergence of ISIS has provided a potent new rallying cry for radicals in Indonesia, which has long struggled with militancy, and sparked fears of a revival of long- defunct extremist networks.

A gun and suicide attack in Jakarta last year that left four civilians and four assailants dead was the first attack claimed by ISIS in South-east Asia, and the first major assault in Indonesia for seven years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesian held over ISIS link 'a former ministry official''. Print Edition | Subscribe