JAKARTA: Indonesia has detained 14 people, including several children, as they allegedly tried to travel to Syria, police said, where hundreds of their countrymen have joined extremist groups like the Islamic State (IS) group.
The Indonesians were stopped Sunday at the international airport serving Jakarta as they tried to board a flight to Bangkok, from where they planned to continue on to Syria, Jakarta police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said.
Among those identified were a family of five with three children from Tangerang, west of Jakarta, Iqbal said in a statement late Sunday. Five others, including at least one child, were from the Indonesian part of Borneo island.
The group is being held at the airport while police work to establish the identities of the remaining suspects.
Police did not say whether those detained planned to join IS.
Hundreds of Indonesians, many in families, have traveled to join the jihadists since they seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a “caliphate”.
As of December 2015, more than 200 Indonesians had been deported by Turkey after trying and failing to enter Syria, Jakarta-based think-tank the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said in a report last month.
The flow of Indonesians heading to join IS and other extremist groups has sparked fears that sophisticated terror networks could be revived in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
IS claimed a January suicide and gun assault in Jakarta that left four militants and four civilians dead, and was the first major terror attack in the country for seven years.
Indonesian authorities have complained that weaknesses in the country’s anti-terror laws make it difficult to stop would-be militants heading abroad, and parliament is considering adopting tougher measures.