Australia has warned that the terrorist outfit Islamic State is working to boost its presence in Indonesia with dreams of creating a distant caliphate in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
Attorney-General George Brandis, who attended meetings between Indonesian and Australian ministers, police chiefs and security officials, said it constituted a threat to Australian and Western interests. ISIS has ambitions to elevate its presence and level of activity in Indonesia, either directly or through surrogates, The Australian newspaper quoted him as saying Tuesday.
ISIS has a declared intention to establish caliphates beyond the Middle East, to make them provincial caliphates, according to Brandis. It has identified Indonesia as a location of its ambitions. Islamic State, which adheres to a fundamentalist doctrine of Sunni Islam, has already declared caliphates in several areas outside Syria and northern Iraq where it holds a swathe of territory.
Indonesian police had recently foiled a plot to carry out a suicide attack in Indonesian capital Jakarta, and arrested nine Islamic State-linked militants. Explosive materials and an IS-inspired flag were confiscated in raids across Java that lasted for three days. The extremists were targeting shopping malls, police stations and minority groups across the country, Indonesia’s national police chief said. Security has been beefed up across the country, with senior ministers from Australia and Indonesia agreeing to boost intelligence sharing, including on terrorism financing, following bilateral talks in both Sydney and Jakarta.
The Australian reported that while Australian authorities believed there was little chance IS could create a caliphate within Indonesia, they were deeply worried the terror group may establish a permanent foothold in the archipelago. This could allow it to conduct attacks against Western or Australian interests within Indonesia and beyond.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the rise of jihadist groups had destabilized the security of both countries. “The rise of ISIS in the Middle East is something that has destabilized the security of Australia, it’s destabilized the security of Indonesia and it’s destabilizing the security of our friends and partners, particularly here in the region,” he added.