Bogor (AFP) — Indonesia has said it will not bring home nearly 700 nationals who joined the Islamic State group in the Middle East over security fears, but added it would still consider repatriating young children.
The issue sharply divided the world’s biggest Muslim majority 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’s now crumbled caliphate.
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 in a country that suffered repeated attacks by IS-loyal groups.
“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.