JAKARTA: Indonesian police have detained 17 people with suspected links to the Islamic State (IS) group after Turkey deported them due to concerns they wanted to enter Syria, an official said Monday.
Hundreds of people from Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, have flocked to join IS in the Middle East in recent years, stoking fears that radicals could launch attacks on home soil on their return.
The group, which included several children, was arrested at the international airport serving Jakarta on Saturday after arriving on a flight from Istanbul, said national police spokesman Rikwanto.
Turkish authorities became suspicious the group was planning to enter Syria, where IS controls territory, and decided to send them back to Indonesia, said the spokesman, who like many Indonesians, goes by one name.
“There are indications they are involved with IS,” Rikwanto told AFP, adding authorities were trying to find out who had recruited them and given them funding.
Indonesian police have arrested groups of suspected radicals allegedly trying to head to Syria on several occasions in recent years.
The emergence of IS has provided a potent new rallying cry for radicals in Indonesia, which has long struggled with Islamic militancy, and sparked fears of a revival of extremist networks.
A gun and suicide attack in Jakarta last year, that left four civilians and four attackers dead, was the first attack claimed by IS in Southeast Asia, and the first major assault in Indonesia for seven years.
There have been a series of other more minor attacks and plots linked to IS in recent times.