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Indonesia: Government Bans Support for ISIS

(Aug. 6, 2014) On August 4, 2014, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto, announced that the government has banned the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), forbidding the propagation of its teachings in the country. Suyanto spoke at a press conference at the President’s office and was joined by the Ministers of Religious Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Justice and Human Rights, as well as the heads of the National Intelligence Agency, the military, and the National Police. Suyanto said the ban of ISIS was imposed “because it goes against the ideology of Pancasila, the [philosophy of] unitary Indonesian nation-state and pluralism. … Every attempt to promote ISIS should be prevented … . ” (Ezra Sihite, Indonesian Government Officially Bans ISIS, JAKARTA GLOBE (Aug. 4, 2014).)

According to Suyanto, the ban means that support to people in the Middle East should be in the form of diplomacy and humanitarian aid, not soldiers; sending military personnel would make matters worse, in his view. He added, “[l]et’s not get influenced, and not be easily provoked to join ISIS.” (Id.) In addition, Indonesians who travel to troubled areas of the Middle East and South Asia will be monitored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the police and the counter-terrorism officials coordinating information. (Id.)

Suyanto’s views were echoed by military commander General Moeldoko, who stated “[t]he country could be in danger if ISIS flourishes” and the ideology of the ISIS leaders could do damage to the pluralism of Indonesia. Furthermore, he argues, ISIS’s efforts could lead to separatist views in Indonesia. (Indra Wijaya, Military Chief Bans ISIS in Indonesia, TEMPO.CO (Aug. 4, 2014).)

One reason Indonesian officials have spoken out against ISIS and announced the ban is that ISIS has created and posted online a recruitment video in the Indonesian language calling for Muslims in the country to join their fight. Hundreds of Indonesians have declared that they do support ISIS. Agus Surya Bakti of the National Counterterrorism Agency has noted that ISIS’s ideology has spread in Indonesia through Internet access to information about ISIS and in some cases through direct communication with members of ISIS. (Id.) In fact, according to Suyanto, “[t]he activities of ISIS and now IS [Islamic State, as the movement officially calls itself] have since the beginning been monitored by some ministries, [including] the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the National Police.” (Sihite, supra.)

The ISIS video has led to a dispute between Indonesian government ministries. The Justice and Human Rights Minister, Amir Syamduddin, has called for the blocking of the ISIS video, criticizing the Ministry of Communication and Informatics for not stopping online access to the video. Syamduddin complained, “[i]f they can block pornography, then they surely can block things that threaten public order.” (Aisha Shaidra, Justice Ministry: ISIS Video Must Be Blocked, TEMPO.COM (Aug. 4, 2014).) A Ministry of Communication and Informatics spokesman stated, however, that such blocking requires that reports come to that Ministry from one of the other ministries. Syamduddin argues that regulations do not require such reports. (Id.)