Friday, June 14, 2024

Counter-terrorism financing landscape in Indonesia: The Syrian crisis and charity scandal

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Hanif Muhammad





As the world’s fourth most populous country, the largest economy in ASEAN and one of the littoral controllers of the strategic Malacca Strait, Indonesia holds a significant influence on the international political-economic landscape. This also relates to counter-terrorism efforts, which extend far beyond the country’s immediate surroundings.

Financial aid from Indonesia indirectly props up terrorist groups

Indonesia, like many other countries, has been affected by the surge of terrorism worldwide. Many Indonesians are indirectly funding terror groups within and outside of the country, without their knowledge.

The indirect support comes in the form of financial aid, primarily through charity organizations that falsely advertises who and where their funds are going to be directed.

Citing an example, anti-terrorism squad Densus 88 said that Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) established numerous organizations to raise funds from the Muslim community. The squad investigation indicated that one of the fund-raising bodies, the Baitul Maal Abdurrahman bin Auf, could raise fund between IDR 14 billion and IDR 15 billion annually. These figures came from the foundation’s financial statements.

Government’s efforts to combat terrorist financing

The government has endeavored in combatting the funneling of funds to terrorist groups within and outside of Indonesia. The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) is coordinating with the Police, the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) in this specific issue of funds from Indonesia falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Read also: Terrorist group raises funds through charities in Indonesia

The PPATK is suggesting an amendment to Law No. 9/1961 concerning Collection of Money or Goods, and PP (Government Regulation) No. 29/1980 concerning Implementation of Donation Collection.

“These changes are intended to increase transparency and accountability for raising donations and assistance from the public. This can also prevent polemics in the community regarding donations collected by individuals or private enterprises,” said PPATK Chairman Dian Ediana Rae.

How the funds are funneled

There are multiple ways that these charity organizations are able to funnel funds for terrorist groups. One example is by a third-party humanitarian organization like the White Helmets. The White Helmets are officially a volunteer organization that operates in parts of opposition-controlled Syria and in Turkey. Their official stated purpose is mainly directed at providing humanitarian services to those affected by the war. Quick research on the nature of this “humanitarian” organization will uncover their links to active terrorist groups like HTS (formerly Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda in Syria) and other splinter groups.

Read also: Indonesia needs to stay vigilant against online radicalization although IS weakens in Mid-East

“Those who raise funds are, of course, donation organizations. They won’t say it’s for terrorists. When we check their track record, we can detect the circulated photos and videos that the donations are from Indonesia. And the funds fall into the hands of terrorists,” said Dina Sulaeman, a prominent Indonesian expert of Middle Eastern Geopolitics on Deddy Corbuzier’s Podcast that aired on March 29, 2021.

Hanif Muhammad






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