JAKARTA: Six Indonesian militants were jailed Wednesday for harbouring two Uighurs who entered the country to fight with extremists linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, but were cleared of plotting to fire a rocket at Singapore.
The militants were detained last year after authorities foiled the alleged IS-linked plot to shoot a rocket at an upmarket waterfront district of Singapore from the nearby Indonesian island of Batam. This charge was not proven in court.
Instead, the extremists were convicted of harbouring the Uighurs -- members of a mostly Muslim Chinese minority who complain of persecution in their homeland of Xinjiang -- on Batam and hiding information about them.
Gigih Rahmat Dewa, the group’s leader, was jailed for four years while the five others were each given a three-year jail term.
“The defendants have acted in an organised way and have deliberately aided terrorists,” presiding judge Tarigan Muda Limbong told the West Jakarta district court.
The alleged plot to fire a rocket at Singapore’s Marina Bay district was foiled in August last year. Authorities said the detained militants had hatched the plan with a leading Indonesian militant fighting with IS, who is accused of being behind a series of plots.
It was not clear how advanced the plan was and analysts had expressed scepticism about the militants’ capacity to carry it out.
One of the Uighurs was arrested on the outskirts of Jakarta after making contact with local IS-linked militants.
It is unclear what happened to the second Uighur but he was believed to have been among several who entered Indonesia and tried to join an IS-linked group called Mujahideen of Eastern Indonesia on the central island of Sulawesi.
Indonesian militants fighting with IS in Syria are believed to have plotted with extremist networks back home to send Uighurs in Southeast Asia to Indonesia to join up with the Sulawesi group, which has almost been wiped out following a major offensive by security forces.
The world’s most populous Muslim-majority country has long struggled with Islamic militancy. It has suffered a string of attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.
A crackdown had weakened the most dangerous networks but IS has proved a potent new rallying cry for radicals. -AFP