Senior Indonesian civil servant abandons post to join ISIS

Dwi Djoko Wiwoho is the second public servant to join ISIS. A policeman from Jambi did the same earlier this year.
Dwi Djoko Wiwoho is the second public servant to join ISIS. A policeman from Jambi did the same earlier this year.PHOTO: DWI DJOKO WIWOHO/ FACEBOOK

Police say the officer and his wife have left Batam for Iraq; he had sent message to his bosses to help inform his parents

A senior civil servant and his wife have left their home town in Batam island to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group, said Indonesia's national police.

The Straits Times understands that the man, identified as Dwi Djoko Wiwoho, was the director of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board's licensing office in the Riau Islands.

A police spokesman said yesterday that Dwi was to return to work from leave on Sept 1.

Instead, he sent a message to his superiors asking for help to "inform my parents that I will migrate and join" ISIS.

His wife was not named but the police said the couple had left Batam and gone to Iraq via Istanbul, Turkey, to link up with ISIS. They are now investigating how Dwi was influenced to join the terror group.

GOVERNMENT FIGHTING BACK

There are weak links and gaps in the system - especially with the prisons - but (Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs) Luhut Pandjaitan was a counter-terrorism chief in the Special Forces and he's making a promising start...

SECURITY CONSULTANT SUSAN SIM, from the New York-based The Soufan Group, on Indonesia's handling of the ISIS risk

Dwi is the second public servant to join ISIS. Earlier this year, a policeman from Jambi did the same.

The latest case comes after two men from Pekanbaru were deported from Singapore last Friday after they confessed they were there en route to Syria, also to join ISIS.

The Jakarta Post reported yesterday that the two have since been released back to their families. This was after they were questioned by officers from Indonesia's anti-terror unit, Detachment 88.

Over 700 fighters from Indonesia are estimated to have joined ISIS, while several have been stopped from doing so.

Jakarta-based Institute for International Peace Building director Taufik Andrie says "statistically", it is not a worrying trend as the number is still low.

"Ideologically, however, it is a concern because it has penetrated... a state apparatus."

Security consultant Susan Sim, from the New York-based The Soufan Group, said that as long as ISIS controls territory in the Levant, it will have a seductive hold on the imagination of a wide array of individuals.

These range from "the young and clueless looking for excitement" to others who aspire to martyrdom and are willing to kill for the cause.

"We have reason to be concerned with any one of these individuals coming back to the region with their skills and experience."

The Indonesian authorities, however, have had a "fairly good handle on the situation at home", she said.

"Detachment 88 has had a decade to build up its intelligence-gathering capabilities," said Ms Sim.

"There are weak links and gaps in the system - especially with the prisons - but (Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs) Luhut Pandjaitan was a counter-terrorism chief in the Special Forces and he's making a promising start" by reducing turf wars among agencies and getting them to pool intelligence and resources.

She said there is good cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia on fighting terror.

"You see that cooperation in action when cross-border arrests take place."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Senior Indonesian civil servant abandons post to join ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe