Jakarta police reportedly received a threat on Tuesday, July 4, warning of plans to “turn Jakarta into Marawi,” the southern Phillipines city currently experiencing an Islamic State (IS)-aligned insurgency. The handwritten letter was delivered to Kebayoran Lama Police Headquarters by an unidentified individual along with an IS flag. The threat comes as IS associates released a video the same day showing militants and child soldiers threatening Indonesian and Malaysian authorities with war. It is currently unclear how credible the July 4 threat is, but an enhanced security presence should be anticipated throughout the capital.
Indonesia is on high security alert due to a generally heightened risk of terror attacks. IS sympathizers have carried out a series of mostly low-level attacks over the past few years, and there are fears of the potential return of hundreds of Indonesians who have gone to Syria to fight with IS. Three police officers were killed by IS associates in June 2017 alone.
Additionally, Saudi Arabian Salafi-wahhabism has slowly been expanding Indonesia since the 1980s through foreign-funded mosques, a free university in South Jakarta that houses the Institute for the Study of Islam and Arabic (LIPIA), boarding schools, teachers, and thousands of scholarships to study in Saudi Arabia.
The July 4 letter references the major ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City, Philippines, following a botched government raid on a hideout sheltering Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group in May 2017. The Philippine government is battling different militant Islamist groups that are laying siege to the city, including IS-affiliated Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf militant group, and the Maute group. Some 71 government soldiers and 299 militants have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, as well as 246,000 people displaced. The conflict is sparking fear across the region as Indonesian and Malaysian forces fight the extremist Islamist groups in their own countries.
Due to the heightened threat of terrorism in Indonesia, remain vigilant when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.).
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