JAKARTA - Indonesian police have arrested three Indonesians who planned to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a fourth man who helped prepare them for the journey.
Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said on Wednesday night (Sep 28) that all four, however, may have facilitated the journey for "tens of others" to Syria to link up with ISIS since October last year.
Three of the suspects, one of whom is a woman, were nabbed during an operation at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport last Thursday (Sep 22), said Inspector General Boy.
A total of seven were rounded up but four were released and are now assisting in police investigations, he added. Information provided by the suspects led the police to the fourth person, identified as Abu Fauzan.
Inspector General Boy said Abu Fauzan, who was arrested last Friday near his home in the West Java provincial town of Bekasi, is suspected of facilitating, coordinating and giving pre-departure sermons to Indonesians planning to join ISIS in Syria on at least four occasions.
The police would only provide initials of the other three suspects, referring to them as "A", "ANF" and "W", who is said to have hold the purse strings of the group.
"W is the female and we are investigating to find out if she had used her own personal funds or funds collected from others," said the Inspector General.
The National Counter-terrorism Agency (BNPT) estimates that about 500 Indonesians have travelled to the Middle East with ambition to fight alongside militant groups there.
Many, however, have also returned to Indonesia, either because they were disappointed after only being given menial tasks despite being in the battlefront, but there were others who were ordered by ISIS to take the fight back home.
BNPT chief Suhardi Alius said last week that his agency has identified 47 such returnees so far from Syria, whom President Joko Widodo has ordered that they be placed under surveillance.
The Straits Times was told by a confidential source that according to official records, 30 of the 47 Indonesians had joined ISIS, while the remaining 17 were with Jabhat al Nusra, an Al-Qaeda-linked group based in northern Syria.