Indonesian police today (Friday, August 11) arrested a suspected recruiter for Islamic State-affiliated militants who are continuing to hold out in Marawi.
Nearly 700 people, including 120 soldiers, have been killed in the conflict after local Maute Group terrorists and other jihadists went on the rampage in the city on May 23.
The man detained on the outskirts of Jakarta is believed to be a member of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to IS, police spokesman Inspector General Setyo Wasisto said.
“He finds people to send to Marawi and Syria,” Wasisto wrote in a text message to Reuters. “How many is still unclear.”
Police also suspect he raised funds for the militants.
Indonesian counter-terrorism authorities believe at least 20 Indonesians were among the fighters, along with some from Malaysia and the Middle East who have rallied to the black flag of IS in Marawi.
Indonesian JAD members make up most of the senior leadership of a Southeast Asian battalion fighting for IS in Syria, which known as Katibah Nusantara.
Two of the leaders, Bahrumsyah and Bahrun Naim, are suspected of directing and inspiring a number of terrorist attacks in Indonesia.
Members of Katibah Nusantara have also organised funding and international recruits for the Marawi assault, the Jakarta-based Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict said in a recent report.
Southeast Asian nations have vowed to step up law enforcement and intelligence cooperation in the wake of the Marawi crisis.
Concerns have long been expressed that hundreds of battle-hardened IS fighters will return to Southeast Asia — in particular to Mindanao — as the terror group loses territory in the Middle East.