KUALA LUMPUR: A former Indonesian finance ministry official and his family who were detained after being deported from Turkey back to Indonesia for allegedly trying to sneak into Syria to join Islamic State (IS) have been released, according to senior Indonesian security officials.
“We took statements from them (the man and his family). After that, we released them because there was no criminal element,” a senior security official told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday (Feb 1).
“They have been handed over to the Ministry of Social Affairs. After carrying out several social measures, the ministry released them,” he said.
“We will continue to monitor them,” the official added.
Another senior security official told Channel NewsAsia that between 15 and 25 Indonesians are expected to be deported back to Indonesia “soon”.
“We don’t have the exact dates but we are expecting them to be deported very soon from Turkey,” said the official.
The 39-year-old man, his wife and three children aged between three and 12, were detained by police on Jan 24 after arriving in Bali on an Emirates flight from Turkey.
Two days later, they were flown to Jakarta to be questioned by Indonesia National Police counter-terrorism taskforce Detachment 88 (Den88) and later handed over to the Social Affairs Ministry.
The man sold his home to raise money to pay for their passage to Syria, via Turkey, because he wanted to live under a caliphate, according to police.
He left for Turkey in August 2016. Upon arriving in Turkey, he moved around several safe houses in Istanbul before being arrested by Turkish military in a raid on Jan 16 and subsequently deported back to Indonesia.
Security officials earlier told Channel NewsAsia the man held a “good position” in the finance ministry and attended the top schools in the country. He furthered his studies in Australia where he earned a Masters in Public Policy from Flinders University, Adelaide.
The Indonesian Finance Ministry said the man resigned from the ministry in February 2016 on the pretext of caring for orphaned children at a boarding school in Bogor, West Java.
Noor Huda Ismail, founder of the International Peace Building Institute of Indonesia, Indonesia’s first private de-radicalisation organisation, said: “Not all people who join IS are bloodthirsty. The situation is far more complex. Some are are taken in by the dreams and promises of living under a caliphate.”
“This case is a phenomenon - a tip of the iceberg of the radicalisation taking place inside the government’s administration that needs to be handled seriously,” said Huda.