Indonesian militant leader killed in shooting, police say
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian security forces have killed the leader of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahedin militant group (MIT), which has links to the Islamic State, police said on Sunday.
A joint operation by soldiers and police killed Ali Kalora in a shootout in a village on the island of Sulawesi on Saturday afternoon, according to a police statement.
Another activist, identified as Jaka Ramadhan, also known as Ikrima, was also shot dead, police said, adding that a hunt was underway for four other MIT members.
Explosives, an M16 rifle and two machetes were found, along with other evidence of militant activity, following the raid.
Kalora took over as head of MIT after security forces killed its former leader, Santoso, in 2016.
Authorities believed MIT was behind the brutal murder (https://www.reuters.com/article/indonesia-crime-attack-idUSKBN28A1VZ) of four villagers in central Sulawesi in November 2020, although the group did not claim responsibility for it.
Its former leader Santoso was once the most wanted activist in Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Santoso was one of the first activists in Indonesia to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.
Ridwan Habib, a terrorism analyst at the University of Indonesia, said the Sulawesi-based MIT group is unlikely to survive the death of its leader, although he suspects its fleeing members will continue to fight the forces of security.
“Part of their ideology seeks death because they believe death will lead them to heaven. With their leader dead, they will also seek death,” he told Reuters. “I’m not sure there will be a (MIT) recovery or a new chief elected.”
Police arrested 53 activists last month (https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/indonesia-police-arrest-53-suspected-plotting-independence-day-attack-2021-08-20 ) suspected of planning an attack on Indonesia’s Independence Day.
The country’s deadliest militant Islamist attack took place on the tourist island of Bali in 2002, when bombers killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.
(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)