Ex-terrorist fighters relinquished Indonesian citizenship: Mahfud

Ex-terrorist fighters relinquished Indonesian citizenship: Mahfud

Demonstrators carried banners in a protest against the plan to repatriate more than 600 Indonesian ex-foreign terrorist fighters. (ANTARA PHOTO/Wahyu Putro A/aww/sh)

If these foreign terrorist fighters return, they can become a new virus that can make these 267 million people feel unsafe
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD affirmed that Indonesian foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) had disclaimed their citizenship and attempted to steer clear of communication with the government.

"Yes, they did not acknowledge themselves as Indonesian citizens," Mahfud stated here on Wednesday.

The Indonesian ex-fighters of the terrorist group ISIS in Syria have never made contact with the government and attempted to evade communication.

According to Mahfud, foreign authorities had reported on their presence in Syria.

"They did not report to us. They were found by foreign authorities, CIA, ICRC, who said that they are Indonesians. They have burned their passports, what should we do. Hence, let them be like that. We cannot repatriate them," the minister noted.

Mahfud reiterated that the FTF had attempted to avoid contact with the government even when the National Counter-terrorism Agency (BNPT) had visited Syria.

"We have sent the BNPT to Syria. We have met with the authority, who notified us of the presence (of the Indonesian fighters), but they never showed up," he stated.

The minister denied reports that the Indonesian ex-terrorist fighters had sought repatriation.

"They never show up. They burned their passports. There are reports on their presence, and rumors are circulating that they want to go home. However, it remains unclear who they are," Mahfud added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mahfud stated that the government had decided to not accept Indonesian citizens, who had joined terrorist networks abroad, including the ISIS.

The decision was made bearing in mind the need to safeguard 267 million people in Indonesia from the threat of terrorism, Mahfud stated at the Bogor Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java.

Mahfud remarked that some 689 Indonesian citizens were identified as FTF in some countries, including Syria, Turkey, and Afghanistan. The government is yet accruing data on their background and role in the group.

“If these foreign terrorist fighters return, they can become a new virus that can make these 267 million people feel unsafe," the minister elaborated.

The government has also collected valid data on the number and identity of those involved in terrorist groups that had joined the ISIS, he stated.

Young children might be accepted, depending on their circumstances. "Children under 10 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For instance, whether they have parents there," he explained.

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