Targeted villagers and security men were often beheaded

The news of Indonesian security forces laying the final blow on terror group Mujahideen Indonesia Timur (MIT), has largely gone unreported in the region’s media.

Yet, the group, despite its small size and operating in a mountainous village in Sulawesi, has the reputation of being the most notorious and brutal group in the region as it is known for beheading its victims, especially Christians and villagers who reported on them to the authorities.

The hunt is now on for three remnants of MIT, which had ties with the Islamic State (ISIS), according to

Sulawesi is an Indonesian island east of Borneo and located west of the Malukus island and south of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Ali Kejora, who was declared Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist and leader of MIT, was killed in a joint operation by the military and police forces. He was shot dead in September 2021 after eluding capture for more than a decade.

He was involved in various attacks on police stations and Christian communities including missionaries, where his exploits included beheading victims and burning down a church.

Another leader, Jaka Ramadhan @ Ikrima was also shot in late September 2021.

“For MIT, the group was weakened by being left with only nine personnel in early 2021, and the decapitation of its leadership in September 2021.

“While the anti-terror police unit Detachment 88 also apprehended prospective MIT members who were en route to Poso, 132 militants have largely been less inclined to travel to the area.

“Travel costs to Poso from Java or West Nusa Tenggara – the main regions where MIT militants have originated from – even prior to the pandemic, were prohibitively more expensive compared to the intra-Java or Java-Sumatra travels conducted,” reveals the newly released, January 2022 issue of the Annual Threat Assessment.

The report was made by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

But Indonesian terrorism researcher Boas Simanjunak of, who specialises in fighting radicalism and terrorism, said while MIT has weakened, it remains “the benchmark for individual, small or big groups although they may not be related with terrorism per se, motivating them to stay consistent on their activities, since they feel that Islam is still being marginalised during the government tenure”.

In an interview with Sunday Star, he said even though MIT was decreasing on combatants, “we should be aware of, at least, three factors – its ability for retaliation (fearmongering action by killing locals), attraction for youth supporters (toxic masculinity by glorifying injustice narrative by flashing weapons and asking to struggle for religion) and wide-open track, which means the lack of task force in the central Sulawesi mountainous and sea areas.”

Boas said the three remnants were Nae @ Galuh @ Muklas, Askar @ Jaid @ ‘Pak Guru’, and Suhardin @ Hasan Pranata.

They are said to be equipped with firearms and home-made bombs and operating in the jungles of Poso, Sulawesi.

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