Uighur jailed for trying to join extremist group

Ahmet Bozoglan at the North Jakarta District Court yesterday. He was jailed six years for trying to join the group led by wanted militant Santoso, and for entering Indonesia using a fake passport.
Ahmet Bozoglan at the North Jakarta District Court yesterday. He was jailed six years for trying to join the group led by wanted militant Santoso, and for entering Indonesia using a fake passport.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JAKARTA • An Indonesian court has jailed a Chinese Uighur for six years after he was caught trying to join an extremist group led by the country's most wanted militant.

Ahmet Bozoglan was arrested last September on the rugged central island of Sulawesi as he and three other members of the mostly Muslim ethnic minority attempted to meet militant Santoso, leader of a group known as the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen.

The three others were jailed six years each earlier this month.

Santoso's group - which hides out in the jungle in an area known to be a militant hotbed - is considered one of the few remaining extremist outfits that pose a serious threat in Indonesia, and has been accused of deadly attacks on police. Santoso has also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Presiding judge Houtman Tobing yesterday said Bozoglan, 28, was guilty of an "evil conspiracy" for seeking to join the militant group, and had also breached immigration laws by entering Indonesia using a fake Turkish passport.

"The defendant's deeds caused anxiety and fear," Judge Tobing told a court in Jakarta .

Bozoglan was also ordered to pay a fine of 100 million rupiah (S$10,000) or spend another six months in jail.

Indonesia is home to a Muslim population of about 225 million, the world's biggest. It has suffered a string of militant attacks in the past 15 years, including the Bali bombings in 2002 that left 202 people dead.

However, a crackdown in recent years has largely dismantled the most dangerous networks.

The Uighur minority come from the north-west Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the group says its people face cultural and religious repression.

Many are believed to have fled the restive region in recent years, sometimes travelling through South-east Asia in the hope of resettling in Turkey.

Many Turks are sympathetic towards the Uighurs, who have cultural ties with Turkey and speak a Turkic language. There were protests in Turkey when around 100 members of the minority group were sent back to China from Thailand this year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Uighur jailed for trying to join extremist group'. Print Edition | Subscribe