Five Indonesian nationals whose assets have been frozen by the United States are suspected of being involved in financing efforts by the Islamic State militant group to recruit teenagers to fight in Syria and other countries, confirmed the Indonesian counterterrorism agency on Tuesday.
Two of the suspects are in Indonesia while the other three are at al-Hol camp in Syria near the Turkish border, BNPT news agency said. Monday, the US Treasury Department named five Indonesian suspects, saying the United States froze their American assets and barred people from engaging in certain transactions with them.
“The five individuals… played a key role in facilitating the travel of extremists to Syria and other areas where ISIS operates,” the US Treasury Department said in a press release, using a different acronym for Islamic State (IS).
The Treasury identified the five as Dwi Dahlia Susanti, Rudi Heryadi, Ari Kardian, Muhammad Dandi Adhiguna and Dini Ramadhani.
“By naming them, we aim to expose and disrupt an international Islamic State facilitation network that has funded Islamic State recruitment, including vulnerable children in Syria,” the US Secretary of State said. Antony Blinken in a separate statement.
In Jakarta, Brig. General Ahmad Nurwahid, director of prevention of the BNPT, confirmed that the five were foreign terrorist fighters, the term referring to Indonesians who join militant groups abroad. Nurwahid declined to disclose how much money the five allegedly raised to support IS.
“We cannot reveal the numbers as it is part of the investigation,” Nurwahid told BenarNews. “Furthermore, the government, in this case BNPT, will follow up in accordance with existing authorities and powers based on law.”
The US government has identified Susanti as an IS financial facilitator since at least 2017, saying she helped members of the militant group with money transfers involving individuals in Indonesia, Turkey and Syria. He said Susanti helped her unnamed husband deliver nearly US$4,000 and weapons to an IS leader in 2017.
In early 2021, Susanti facilitated money transfers from Indonesia to Syria to provide funds for some people in IDP camps, according to the Treasury. In some cases, he says, these funds have been used to smuggle teenagers from the camps to the desert where IS foreign fighters received them.
Susanti, Ramadhani and Adhiguna are at al-Hol camp on the border between Syria and Turkey, according to BNPT.
Heryadi was deported from Turkey on September 27, 2019 and had been sentenced to three years and six months before being released on parole on Monday, the same day the United States announced its sanctions, according to BNPT. Kardian, who was arrested in 2016 on charges related to efforts to help Indonesians going to Syria to join IS, was also released.
Gen. Dedi Prasetyo, spokesman for the Indonesian National Police, said the Densus 88 counter-terrorism unit was monitoring the suspects.
“We will be in contact with the BCN-Interpol to find those who are abroad, as well as with Interpol in the countries where they are,” Dedi told BenarNews, referring to the National Central Bureau, which links the police to Interpol’s global network.
Al Chaidar Abdurrahman Puteh, a terrorism analyst at Malikussaleh University, confirmed the allegations.
“Dini Ramadhani and Dwi Dahlia Susanti were going back and forth from Turkey and Syria to take ISIS children from Deir Al-Azur and al-Hol camps,” Al Chaidar told BenarNews.
Meanwhile, Dyah Ayu Kartika, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), said the US government has issued statements essentially banning its citizens from doing business with those who help ISIS and other militant groups.
“For individuals, it’s actually quite rare, so we’re still investigating those five names,” Dyah told BenarNews.
She noted that the Global Human Care, an NGO formed by the Indonesian Mujahideen Council, was sanctioned in February 2021 for allegedly funding militants in Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid. Luki Abdul Hayyi, secretary general of the NGO, rejected the American allegations.
In a recent report, IPAC said that many Indonesians on global terrorism lists, especially the US Treasury list, automatically get this designation from the United Nations. Yet the lists are perpetually outdated, leaving out some of the most notorious terrorists while including people who have never been involved in violence.
“This may be partly because of the bureaucratic procedures involved in getting new names onto the list (not to mention deleting old ones), but also because applying sanctions against registrants could complicate government efforts. in rehabilitation and reintegration,” the report said.