JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Three women are known to have joined the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) terrorist group in a bid to take revenge against government security personnel for killing their husbands, a top official said on Tuesday (April 5).
The woman apparently travelled to Central Sulawesi to marry Santoso, the leader of the MIT and two of his fellow militants after their husbands were killed by the National Police's Densus 88 counter-terrorism group in shoot-outs, said Brigadier General Rudy Sufahriady.
"Based on intelligence, the three women pledged allegiance (to MIT), saying it was better for them to die as syahid (defender of Islam) accompanying their husbands than to surrender," said Rudy, who is also Central Sulawesi's police chief, without mentioning who the women’s dead husbands were.
Santoso, Indonesia’s most high-profile backer of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, has been on the run for three years.
BG Rudy is chief of Operation Tinombala, a weeks-old mission by Indonesia’s elite commandos and some 2,000 policemen and soldiers to hunt down Santoso and his MIT men in the jungles of Poso regency in Central Sulawesi.
The United States has added Santoso, whose real name is Abu Wardah, to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, blocking any US assets he might have and banning him from dealings with Americans.
The Operation Tinombala task force released on Tuesday updated photos of the three women who have jointed MIT.
Two of them, who are pictured without burkas, are identified as Jumiatun Muslim, Santoso's current wife, and Tini Susanti Kaduku, the present wife of MIT member Ali Kalora.
The third woman is named as Nurmi Usman, who is now married to another MIT member identified only as Basri.
The women are widows of members of the group in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, Rudy said. They are also being hunted by Operation Tinombala.
The operation was intensified on Tuesday. Sixty elite troopers are combing the forest of North Lore subdistrict, where it is suspected that Santoso is hiding.