National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian said the police are investigating allegations that Bachtiar Nasir, chairman of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), the group that has been a driving force behind several mass rallies by hardline Islamist groups demanding that Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama be jailed for allegedly committing blasphemy against Islam, embezzled funds for the benefit of a pro-IS group in Turkey.
Tito was summoned by the House of Representatives (DPR)’s Legal Commission yesterday to explain the case amid allegations that the police are criminalizing Islamic clerics. In front of the commission, Tito explained that they have evidence Nasir sent money to Turkey from the coffers of the Justice for All Foundation (KUS), which was set up to receive donations from the public to fund the mass rallies against Ahok at the end of 2016.
“IL (a Bank Nasional Indonesia employee) withdrew money [from the foundation] twice, amounting to over Rp 1 billion. And then, he sent it to BN (Bachtiar Nasir). According to BN, a portion of the funds was directed to the mass rallies, and another portion was sent to Turkey, as stated in the transfer slip,” Tito said, as quoted by Detik.
Tito added that the money that was sent to Turkey is believed to have ended up funding the purchase of logistics for a pro-IS group.
The police investigation into Nasir’s finances began in late 2016, after the alleged embezzlement scheme was reported on by the international media. He was summoned for police questioning on February 8, but has not been formally charged.
Nasir previously denied the allegations, saying that the money from KUS was only used to fund the mass rallies, as well as to provide aid to disaster victims in Aceh and West Nusa Tenggara.
The police have so far named KUS chairman Adnin Armas a suspect for allegedly misappropriating money from the foundation, as well as IL, the bank employee, for violating banking laws after he allegedly facilitated the money transfers in the scheme.
Should the allegations prove to be true, it should effectively discredit any claims that the mass rallies against Ahok were carried out purely on religious grounds.