A few dozens Indonesian jihadists moved from Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Afghanistan

"Most of them are lower level jihadists. Haven't seen any even in the role of a commander."

01 September 2020 07:26

The presence of Indonesian jihadists in Yemen has been highlighted since it emerged on a video clip shared three days ago that Houthi militia found an Indonesian ID along with some rupiahs in an ISIS base in Al-Baida Province.

Faran Jeffery, the Deputy Director of UK-based Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorisme, uploaded that video on his Twitter account. This video become a big news in Indonesian media.

According to Jeffery, a few dozens Indonesian foreign fighters have fled from Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Afghanistan in last 2-3 years. Mostly join with ISIS and the rest fighting along with Al-Qaidan in Arab Peninsula (AQAP).

"Since IS defeat in those two countries, IS has called on its supporters and fighters to move to other war zones where there is IS presence," said Faran Jeffery in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp today. "Yemen is an important zone for IS. In Yemen IS is not only fighting against Houthis but also against AQAP."


About the finding of Indonesian ID and rupiahs in Al-Baida, Yemen, do you think there are some Indonesians join AQAP and ISIS in Yemen?

Yes, there are several foreign fighters fighting for AQAP and IS in Yemen, including very few Indonesians. Most foreign fighters in Yemen are from surrounding countries like Saudi, Iraq, Syria, etc.

How many from Indonesia, each in AQAP and ISIS?

Couple of dozen each. Most are with IS (Islamic State or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/ISIS).

Did they come directly from Indonesia or they fled from Syra and Iraq after ISIS defeated there?

Most fled from Iraq and Syria. Some might have come directly from Indonesia but even they would need to take longer route via Turkey, then to Syria, while some from Africa.

When did they flee from Syria and Iraq to Yemen?

Mostly in last 2-3 years.

From what country in Africa?

Somalia, Egypt

Did they join with Al Shabab and Bait Anshar al Maqdis before?

Not really. There are connections and there is logistical help that is provided to foreign fighters to reach a certain place. Some might have fought for IS in Somalia but later moved on to other places and eventually to Yemen. But like I said that number is very small. Most of them came from Iraq, Syria

Why did Indonesian jihadists choose to flee to Yemen? And not to another country or even back to Indonesia?

Those who went to Yemen, most of them had already fought for IS in Syria and Iraq. And since IS defeat in those two countries, IS has called on its supporters and fighters to move to other war zones where there is IS presence. Yemen is an important zone for IS. In Yemen IS is not only fighting against Houthis but also against AQAP.

How about in Afghanistan? Is there any Indonesian jihadist there?

There are, probably less than a dozen left.

Do they join ISIS and Taliban?

Oh they're with IS.

Since when they have fought there? Did they come directly from Indonesia or fled from Syria and Iraq?

Most of them fled from Iraq and Syria. Some might have come directly from Indonesia.

Since when they joined ISIS in Afghanistan?

IS foreign fighters have been entering Afghanistan all the way from 2014 onward.

How about the ranks of Indonesian jihadists in ISIS and AQAP? Do they have important roles or just become lower level jihadists?

Most of them are lower level jihadists. Haven't seen any even in the role of a commander. I remembered there was at least one Indonesian ISIS commander who was killed in Syria


Bahrun Naim

Where and when he was killed?

In 2017. Was killed in Syria while fighting for ISIS.

Did he command for Indonesian jihadists only or also foreign fighters from Malaysia and Philippine?

He was commanding a diverse group of jihadists, but yes they included some other foreign fighters too, including from Malaysia and Philippines.

How many personnels in his group?

A few dozen. In March 2017, Indonesian militant Bahrumsyah died on a suicide mission in Syria, while just four months earlier Abu Jandal al Yemeni Al Indonesi was executed in a US-led international alliance attack in Iraq.

From those three persons, which one who has close relationship with ISIS leadership in Raqqah?

Bahrun Naim

With whom he had a close relationship?

Couple of top commanders and officials in IS. None of who are alive anymore.

Can you mention their names?

One was named Abu Ghaida. He died with Naim. Also, Naim was killed in June 2018, as per US officials. But rumors of his death had circulated since December 2017

From those only Bahrun Naim became a commander?

Yes. He did a lot of recruitment. He managed to recruit over 100 Indonesians himself. ISIS propaganda online has singled out Indonesian Muslims for recruitment. In a video published in July 2014, titled “Join the Ranks,” a man identified as Abu Muhammad al-Indonesi spoke in Indonesian and called on Indonesian Muslim men to put “all your effort into using your physical and financial strength to migrate to the Islamic State.”

Following the June 2016 Orlando attack, during which Omar Mateen killed 49 people, ISIS released a video entitled “You Are Not Held Responsible Except for Yourself.” The video featured Abu Nusseyba al-Indunisy, who praised Mateen and called for more lone-wolf attacks against “crusaders” and America.

Who is the leader of Indonesian jihadists in ISIS in Yemen and AQAP?

There's no Indonesian leader. They are usually fighters who operate in the battlefield and their superiors are usually Arabs or in some cases Westerners.

I mean the leader among them?

There's no leader among them. That's not how it works. The leaders are selected by the group core command and it could be from any nationality.

Do they still maintain communication with their links in Indonesia?

Yes, in almost all cases. They use different apps for comms

Do you have their names in AQAP and ISIS in Yemen?

I don't. It's very difficult to identify them by their names because they have multiple aliases. In some cases a dozen aliases for a single person. So there's no way of tracking someone solely on the basis of their name. Some fighters and their aliases become popular and so they use only one or two aliases, in which case it is easier.

But usually it's more than half a dozen aliases for one fighter. But all fighters have one main kunya that is used by IS to identify them.

Do you mean always ended with Al-Indunisiy on their alias names?

Most of the time but not always. Sometimes "Al-Muhajir" is also used.

On Twitter you answered my question overall there are 1000-2000 fighters from Indonesia. Can you elaborate about that?

That was my figure for overall Indonesian foreign fighters, not just in Yemen.

Also in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

Yes, all combined

Since when that number produced?

Since 2014 onward.

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