Indonesian responses to the IS challenge

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Caliph of the self-proclaimed IS.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, and the rise of the oft-violent yet ideologically appealing Islamic State gives the country’s leaders much reason for concern.

In the last six months, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) militants took over a number of local mosques and preached for Indonesians to join the growing ranks of the jihadists in the Middle East. Dozens of Indonesian nationals have travelled to Syria and Iraq to participate in building a global Islamic caliphate. Upon their return, these militants pose a real threat to national security as they will have acquired potent combat experience, skills in explosives and an international network of contacts.

Indonesian authorities have been slow to react to the growth of IS at first, but a series of events in July and August changed the situation: on July 18, the Jemaah Islamiyah’s spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir himself made a declaration of allegiance, surrounded by a group of militants in the maximum security Nusa Kambangan island.


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