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Indonesia Rejects to Repatriate Hundreds of ISIS Recruits

Indonesia Rejects to Repatriate Hundreds of ISIS Recruits

Wednesday, 12 February, 2020 - 07:15
Military armored personnel carriers are seen in central Jakarta January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
Asharq Al-Awsat

Indonesia has said it will not bring home nearly 700 hundred nationals who joined ISIS in the Middle East over security fears, but added it would still consider repatriating young children.

The issue sharply divided the nation with its president saying this week that he was not in favor of bringing back suspected militants and their families who went to Syria and other countries to fight for the group.

Security affairs minister Mahfud MD said that some 689 Indonesians -- including women and children -- in Syria would not be allowed to return home due to security concerns.

"We've decided that the government has to provide security assurance to 267 million Indonesian citizens," the minister said Tuesday, after a meeting with President Joko Widodo near Jakarta. 

"If these foreign terrorist fighters return home they could become a dangerous new virus," he added. 

The government  would consider repatriating children 10 years old or younger on a "case by case basis", he added, without elaborating.

Critics of the plan said it was better to bring foreign militants home and rehabilitate them instead of risking that they could be further radicalized abroad. 

"If they're not managed well by the government, there is a possibility they'll be used as proxies by powerful groups that could threaten Indonesia and other countries," said terrorism expert Taufik Andrie, according to Agence France Presse.

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