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Indonesia 'Expert' Warns of Increased Threat

Indonesia 'Expert' Warns of Increased Threat As IS Expands Its Terror Campaign

JAILED Indonesian militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has pledged allegiance to jihadists who have overrun swathes of Iraq and claimed leadership of the world's Muslims, a radical group said Tuesday.

The news came as authorities in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, announced measures aimed at curbing growing support for the Islamic State (IS) group, including the blocking of websites that support them.

Indonesia has for years struggled with Islamist radical groups and has been hit by numerous militant attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

A successful crackdown over the past decade has weakened many groups but authorities believe dozens of Indonesian radicals have headed to fight in Syria and Iraq, and fear they could revive networks on their return.

Authorities had already voiced suspicions that Bashir, regarded as the spiritual leader of militant Islam in Indonesia, was funding IS, which in June declared an "Islamic caliphate" in territory it controls across Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), a radical group founded by Bashir, confirmed that the frail, bespectacled cleric had sworn allegiance to IS in a maximum-security prison on an island off Indonesia's Java several weeks ago.

The 75-year-old "has led a pledge of allegiance with other prisoners soon after the declaration of the new caliph," Afief Abdul Madjid, the group's acting leader, told AFP, adding the cleric had urged his followers to do the same.

Reports said the ceremony to swear allegiance took place in a prayer room.

Bashir, a vocal supporter of Al-Qaeda style jihad, has been in and out of prison for years and is currently serving a 15-year term for funding terrorism.
Ross Taylor, president of the Perth-based Indonesia Institute said today that Australians should not underestimate the seriousness of Isas or IS.

"With the 12th anniversary of the Bali bombings only two two months away, this is a good time for some sober reflections", said Mr Taylor.

"Make no mistake, terrorism is returning to our doorstep as many jihadists will soon return to Indonesia after fighting in Syria and Iraq. They, along with a number of terrorists who have been recently released from jail after serving sentences involving the Bali bombings, pose a serious threat to Indonesia and to Australia."

Mr Taylor said that Bali is now a 'much safer' place than when the original Bali bombings occurred, however "Isas represents a new and potentially even more serious threat to Australians and the region".

ENDS

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