The US Department of State added the emir of the Islamic State-linked Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT) to its list of specially designated global terrorists. Abu Warda Santoso, the MIT leader, swore allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014. His group was previously listed by the US as a terrorist group last year.
Santoso, whose full nom de guerre is Abu Warda Santoso As Syarqi Al Indunisi, has frequently appeared in MIT propaganda in the past. He has called on Indonesians to attack Special Detachment 88 (Densus 88), the Indonesian counter-terrorism police force put in place to target jihadists after the Bali bombing in 2003.
“MIT, under Santoso’s leadership, has been responsible for numerous killings and kidnappings in Indonesia over the past few years,” State’s designation noted. “In August 2012, MIT killed two police officers; in September 2012, it conducted a bomb attack against an Indonesian police station; in November 2012, was responsible for the shooting of an Indonesian police chief; and in December 2012, it shot four Indonesian National Police (POLRI) Mobile Brigade (BRIMOB) personnel.”
Not listed in State’s designation was a June 2013 suicide bombing which targeted police headquarters in Poso. The suicide bomber was the only one to die in the attack. MIT claimed credit for the bombing in a statement released in October 2013, and warned of further attacks if the Indonesian government did not sever ties with the US and Australia.
“We inform you that you will not be safe until you stop diplomatic relations with America, Australia and the other countries that take part in the massacre against Muslims around the world, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Burma, Palestine, and elsewhere; and until you release our mujahideen and Muslim brothers in this country that you call terrorists,” read the statement, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Santoso also called on Indonesians to reject Special Detachment 88, which he claimed “has been slaughtering your parents and killing your children.”
He claimed Special Detachment 88 to be a tool of the US and Australia. Special Detachment 88 has captured and killed numerous Indonesian jihadists since it was created in June 2003.
“They [Special Detachment 88] are defending Australia and America,” Santoso continued, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. “They are soldiers infiltrated by Australia and the US to destabilize the existing system in Indonesia, especially to eradicate the Islamic Ummah [community] in Indonesia in any possible way, either by killing them, or giving money to people that would enter Christianity, or want to obey to laws that are not based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah.”
Santoso pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi on July 1, 2014, just days after Baghdadi announced the formation of the Islamic State and was named its “caliph.”
The US listed MIT as a terrorist entity in September 2015. “MIT has become increasingly bold in its attacks on security forces, which includes the use of explosives and shootings,” State proclaimed in its designation.