KUALA LUMPUR (The Star/Asia News Network): The Mujahideen Indonesia Timur (MIT) (pic), which operates in the mountainous jungle of Poso, Sulawesi, used to have Uighurs from China working side by side with them in their terrorism. According to intelligence reports, most of them used forged Turkish passports to enter Indonesia from Thailand to launch their attacks on Syiah, Christians, and the Indonesian government.
Uighurs are members of a Muslim minority community who mostly live in western Xinjiang in China, as well as across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey.
Indonesian terrorism researcher Boas Simanjuntak said according to available data from the police, there were 12 Uighurs who joined MIT in 2011, adding that some were arrested and released in 2016 and 2020, as well as deported to their country.
“Two Uighurs died on March 15 2016 in Poso during Abu Wardah @ Santoso’s leadership between 1976 and 2016,” he said. But there have also been reports that four from six Uighurs were killed in 2016 in central Sulawesi.
Police also named two of them, Farok @ Magalasi Bahtusan and Nuretin @ Abdul Malik, who were caught in a gunfight with the police and army on March 15, 2016.
It said that same day, MIT dumped the body of another Uighur into a river after he allegedly fled from the group, and a week later, an Uighur named Joko @ Turang Ismail was killed, according to Radio Free Asia.
Boas said under Santoso’s leadership, MIT had links with Islamic State (ISIS) and that there was a directive from IS to provide military training for Uighurs before they join the terrorist group in Syria.
RFA quoted Ridlwan Habib, terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia, as saying that some Uighurs came to Indonesia to train with Santoso’s group before returning to China to commit acts of terror.
Newslines Institute said there were about 1,500 Uighurs fighting for ISIS as early as 2015, and that figure shot up to between 4,000 and 5,000, but following the defeat of ISIS, there is now an estimated 2,000 of them at the Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria.
Al-Hol is a refugee camp controlled by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, with a population of 60,000 people, mostly ISIS detainees and their families from 50 over countries.