IDNAround – The National Police claimed on Saturday they had wiped out the notorious East Indonesia Mujahedin which has terrorized civilians in the Central Sulawesi district of Poso and caused headaches for Indonesian security agencies for decades.
During the last few years, the central government has deployed joint military and police operations to decimate the militant group and managed to kill or capture its leaders, including Ali Kalora who became a target of a manhunt for years.
Ali was killed by security personnel last September, ending his reign of terror which saw many villagers kidnapped and brutally murdered after being targeted for allegedly becoming police collaborators.
His death was a turning point for the joint counter-terror unit Madago Raya Task Force to further paralyze the militant group, which only had a handful of fighters left.
Despite no major attacks in Poso throughout the year, the task force continued to hunt the remaining combatants of the group — known by its Indonesian acronym MIT — and managed to capture three more.
“We can declare now that the MIT group has been eliminated,” National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said during the year-end press conference at his office in Jakarta.
Police and the military have launched an enormous manhunt for MIT figures since a decade ago. Still, Ali wasn’t a high-profile target until July 2016, when group leader Santoso was killed by security personnel and his immediate successor Basri bin Baco Sampe was captured alive a few months later.
Ali rose to leadership with a smaller number of fighters, yet as deadly and terrifying as the group under Santoso’s command.
For five years, he had kept defying security officials by hiding in the jungles and taking advantage of his Sulawesi nativity to blend with local communities when he came to villages.
Ali’s MIT is responsible for the killing of at least 20 civilians, according to police.
In January, the joint operation managed to kill Ahmad Panjang aka Basir, another central figure of MIT. Basir is one of only four remaining MIT combatants sought by the police.
According to police, MIT members have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The group holed up in a mountainous area on the northern coast of Poso, depending on local farmers for food and other basic supplies.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that those farmers are supportive — the group often killed villagers who resisted their presence.
The police chief said counter-terrorism measures didn’t involve only armed operations but also deradicalization programs for thousands of convicted terrorists.
“We have released 3,226 (ex-terror convicts) in 10 provinces who have pledged allegiance to the unitary state of Indonesia,” Listyo said.