With last member murdered, ISIS-linked militant group MIT was wiped out — BenarNews
An Indonesian militant organization linked to the Islamic State group has been wiped out with the killing of its latest member, after a year-long campaign involving soldiers and police, officials said on Friday.
The Eastern Indonesian Mujahideen (MIT) were slowly dying until their leader Ali Kalora was killed last September, reducing the group to four members.
He finally perished on Thursday, when the last resister named Jaid (also known as Pak Guru) was killed in a shootout with anti-terror police in Poso Pesisir Utara, a district in Central Sulawesi province, said provincial police chief Inspector General Rudy Sufahriadi.
“With Jaid dead, all the fugitives from MIT are gone,” Rudy told reporters in Palu.
“Let’s hope this is the end of the hunt. And of course this could not have been achieved without the support of all parties,” he said.
After Jaid’s death, police found items in his backpack, including a standard revolver with bullets and three pipe bombs, Central Sulawesi police spokesman Didik Supranoto said.
Jaid was a senior member of MIT who had joined the group since its inception, was skilled in making bombs and was involved in a series of attacks on civilians, according to Didik.
“Wherever he went he was carrying pipe bombs,” Didik said.
Rudy said security forces participating in Operation Madago Raya tracked Jaid’s movements through the mountainous jungles of Poso Regency after one of the two remaining MIT militants, named Nae, died of complications. gunshot wounds he suffered in a shootout with police in May.
Moh Adhe Bhakti, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Radicalism and Deradicalization (PAKAR), said Nae’s death had not been confirmed.
“Nae’s body was not found by the Operation Madago Raya task force in Poso. Hopefully the news of his death is true, so the MIT fugitive hunt in Central Sulawesi is over,” Adhe told BenarNews.
MIT was formed in 2010 in response to Christian-Muslim sectarian violence in the town of Poso that claimed more than 1,000 lives between 1998 and 2001.
Their mission was to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia. The group is known for its grisly killings of police and civilians it claims were informants for the security forces.
MIT was largely focused on Poso and its surrounding regencies, and over the years many MIT leaders hailed from Poso. Most notable among them was a charismatic man called Santoso who succeeded in expanding the militant base in Poso.
One of the Indonesian security forces‘ first major successes against MIT was the 2016 assassination of Santoso, the most wanted Indonesian activist at the time. He had been the first Indonesian militant to publicly pledge allegiance to the militant group known as Islamic State (IS).
In January 2016, the government launched Operation Tinombala, a joint army-police task force, with the mission to capture or kill MIT activists. The name was changed to Madago Raya (Kindness), as part of a strategy to focus on humanitarian and social activities, police said.
In 2021, the task force had over 1,300 members. Earlier this year, authorities reduced that number to 400.
“Still a lot of supporters”
Although all of the fugitives from MIT had been arrested or killed, MIT still had some support, especially in Poso, Bima in West Nusa Tenggara province and Makassar in South Sulawesi, PAKAR’s Adhe said.
Moreover, the terrorist threat in Poso is far from over, said Deka Anwar, a researcher at the Jakarta-based Institute for Conflict Policy Analysis (IPAC).
Poso will remain a magnet for activists, especially those with ties to the Christian-Muslim conflict there at the turn of the century, Deka said.
“Prevention is important for security forces, including monitoring the MIT network outside of Poso, such as in Bima and other provinces,” Deka said, referring to those who supported and sent funds. at MIT.
Police should also pay attention to terrorist financing and the fundraising efforts of militant groups, he added.
“Terrorist financing is not just about committing acts of terrorism, but also about retaining members of the network, whether they are in prison, or their children, wives and other relatives,” Deka said.
Rudy, the Central Sulawesi police chief, said security operations in Poso could still continue, but that would depend on national leaders.
“If another operation were to be carried out, it would no longer be about chasing fugitives from MIT,” he said.
“There are still many [MIT] sympathizers whom we must educate properly.