NU leader and terrorism expert warn of possible ISIS involvement in Friday’s anti-Ahok rally

There has been much heated discussion this week about the protest against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama taking place on Friday. The event is being organized by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other hardline Muslim groups, but many are now warning that the terrorist organization ISIS might be behind or at least utilizing the protest for their own purposes.

“It is very likely ISIS is trying to affect the [2017 Jakarta governors election], which was supposed to be peaceful,” KH Ahmad Ishomuddin, Supreme Council chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, said in Jakarta on Tuesday as quoted by Tempo.

According to Ahmad, one of their main concerns is the 50 or so Indonesian citizens who are ISIS sympathizers and have recently returned to Indonesia from Syria, with some speculating that they have come back to join the Nov 4 protest. He said the police and military need to be on high alert to make sure that no ISIS operatives infiltrate the rally and cause unrest.

Ahmad said there are many people who want the establishment of a caliphate in Indonesia and that they are trying to manipulate protesters to help realize their goals. Ahmad said NU rejects the notion of an Indonesian caliphate and that they support the Unitary Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

He also noted that Muhammadiyah and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) have encouraged Muslims not to join the demonstration in order to maintain the country’s unity. However, FPI has boasted that as many as 500,000 people will be joining the protest, with many coming from outside Jakarta (police doubt that figure)

Meanwhile, Sidney Jones, the director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict and one of world’s foremost experts on terrorism in Indonesia, has revealed disturbing information that ISIS operatives are being urged commit acts of violence at the protest.

In her excellent analysis of how the government has allowed the situation to escalate to this point, Jones writes that ISIS praised the bravery of one of their young supporter who was killed in Tangerang last month after stabbing several police officers. They have since used messaging services to encourage their other supporters in Indonesia to emulate his actions on Nov 4.

Police have said they will deploy thousands of officers to secure the protests, along with members of the military and the police’s elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) division.

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