Indonesians who fled ISIS camp now safe

But group of 17 cannot return home yet as they must first traverse Iraqi regions controlled by different leaders

A group of 17 Indonesians, who fled a camp in Syria run by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in June, has made it to safe Iraqi territory.

But the group, which includes teenagers and women with infants, cannot leave for Indonesia yet due to security issues, said Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister A. M. Fachir yesterday.

"The conditions on the ground are not what we had imagined, as there are several regions that they have to pass through and each region has its own challenge," he told reporters.

"Flying them back to Indonesia is easy, but moving them from one point to another in Iraq is now the challenge."

Mr Fachir said the Indonesians would have to travel through various regions controlled by different Iraqi leaders.

The group was supposed to have been repatriated from the Syrian city of Raqqa after they escaped from the ISIS camp in June.

Indonesian police earlier said they had left Indonesia in August 2015 and stayed at a camp in Raqqa run by ISIS for about 40 days, before the militants threw them in detention cells because the Indonesian men refused to fight for ISIS.

They were held in isolation within the ISIS camp for more than a year, but managed to escape with the help of "a third party" on June 10, a police spokesman said.

According to an Associated Press report earlier this week, the family left Jakarta for Raqqa two years ago, intending to live in what they regarded as the capital of ISIS.

They also told the news agency of how their dreams were crushed after they witnessed the brutality and terror of ISIS militants .

Meanwhile, Indonesian police yesterday arrested an alleged recruiter and fund-raiser for pro-ISIS militants fighting in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, Reuters reported.

The man detained on the outskirts of Jakarta is believed to be a member of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an Indonesian group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS, police spokesman Inspector-General Setyo Wasisto said.

"He finds people to send to Marawi and Syria," he added via text message.

"How many is still unclear."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesians who fled ISIS camp now safe'. Print Edition | Subscribe