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Islamic State: Jakarta mosques, schools linked to Islamist terror group as Indonesia struggles to contain radicals

Islamic State group sympathisers gave an address to Jakarta's As-Syuhada mosque in Jakarta in February last year.

JAKARTA, RADICALISM STUDIES – A number of Indonesian mosques and schools, including in the capital Jakarta, are being used to preach the hardline Islamic State doctrine and recruit new supporters.

7.30 has been told of five Jakarta mosques where Islamic State dogma is preached and where fighters are recruited.

The Indonesian Government has banned dozens of IS websites, and promised to crack down on extremist teachings at schools. But anti-terrorism laws remain weak, and authorities are losing the battle against Islamic State recruitment.

Down a winding dirt road in Subang, West Java, sits a simple, no-frills Islamic boarding school with a deeply disturbing history.

At least three of the terrorists involved in last month’s attack in central Jakarta can be linked to the school.

Amad Muhazan, the Starbucks suicide bomber, and the gun-wielding leaders of the attack, Afif and Muhammad Ali, had all visited the boarding school in the lead-up to the attack.

Noordin Mohammad Top was also there before bombing the Australian embassy in Jakarta in 2004.

A brief tour of the school reveals some evidence of links to ISIS, with pro-Islamic State slogans and a poster supporting jihad in Syria on the walls.

But the poster is taken down before 7.30 can film it.

Counter-terrorism expert Muhammad Adhe Bhakti says the cleric at the school is a known supporter of the Islamic State group.

“I know at least that the Islamic boarding school they (the Jakarta attackers) visited is affiliated with ISIS, because the leader of the school often declares a struggle for caliphate,” he told 7.30.

The school’s cleric, Khaerul Anam, doesn’t show his face during our visit, but a school teacher is put forward to answer our questions.

7.30 asked Syamsul if he would condemn last month’s terrorist attack in Jakarta.

“What happened clearly didn’t violate the law,” he said.

“They say we support ISIS, but they’re all the way there and we’re all the way here. How do we do that?”

“They say this and that but we are here taking care of these children.”

He dismisses concerns about the poster seen by 7.30.

“You’re concerned about the poster,” he said. “It just so happens there’s the word ‘jihad’ on that poster. If it is on the right path, the Koran and the Prophet say go ahead.”

January terrorist attack planned behind prison walls

It is believed January’s terrorist attack in Jakarta was homegrown, and not planned from abroad.

Police had identified an Indonesian militant based in Syria, Bahrun Naim, as the mastermind behind the January blasts.

But it is now understood the attack was the work of Aman Abdurrahaman, who organised the attack from inside his maximum security prison.

All of the January perpetrators, including Afif and Ali, had paid him a visit there.

“About three weeks prior to the attack, Afif went to Nusa Kambangan (prison) , but unfortunately the CCTV in the prison couldn’t capture it because it’s most probably broken,” Mr Bakti said.

Afif himself was released from prison last year, two years early, after serving five years for training at a terror camp in Aceh.

I salute my brother because he fought against hundreds of police, he was brave and he wasn’t afraid to die.

Sayiddinna Rafiu, brother of Muhammad Ali

A spokesman for Indonesia’s correctional facilities, Akbar Hadi Prabowo, acknowledged flaws in the system.

“We have challenges such as overcapacity,” he said.

“We also don’t have enough resources, both in quality and quantity and we also have limited means of infrastructure.

“We’re not denying that after someone is released from prison, one or two of them might violate the law again. That happens in any country.”

7.30 also questioned the prison official about the lack of control over what and who enters prisons and speaks to convicted terrorists.

“I won’t deny that there had been some illegal things that were smuggled in, and in regards to supervision of inmates we have a small number of staff who are also the cause of the problems,” he said.

Another attack in Indonesia ‘likely’

Counter-terrorism expert Adhe Bakti says another attack in Indonesia is feasible.

“If you want to attract attention then Jakarta is the place,” he said.

“If you ask when, well that is the danger of terrorism. We never know who the victims will be, the perpetrator can be anyone.”

Terrorist Muhammad Ali came from a poverty-stricken Jakarta suburb.

One of his six brothers, Sayiddinna Rafiu, told 7.30 his brother was kind and loved his family.

“I salute him because he could do what he did,” he said.

“I salute my brother because he fought against hundreds of police, he was brave and he wasn’t afraid to die.”

 Published by ABC.net.au 18 Feb 2016

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