Indonesia’s counter-terrorism chief has confirmed the death of a police sergeant who fought alongside the Islamic State group in Syria.
“Obviously, we are sad that a police officer has gone to Iraq and Syria and was killed there,” Saud Usman Nasution, chief of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, was quoted as saying by Okezone.com news website.
“That is very embarrassing and should not happen again,” said Saud, a former commander of the Detachment 88 anti-terror unit.
He urged Indonesians to be wary of Islamic State’s propaganda to lure them into joining the militant group.
The police officer, identified as Syahputra, reportedly died in a US-led coalition airstrike. It was not clear when he died.
The national police said Syahputra had been missing from duty in Jambi province since February.
Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian warned last week that Islamic State’s affiliated organizations were active in the capital and other areas on Java island.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, suffered a series of deadly attacks blamed on Islamist militants during 2000-09.
Authorities say about 300-500 Indonesians have joined Islamic State and at least three are known to have died in combat.
Experts and former militants say the attraction of Islamic State to militants in many parts of the world lies in the fact that it has declared a caliphate and in its rapid success, something that al-Qaeda has failed to achieve.
“They believe that the IS has what it takes to form a caliphate because they have an army, weapons and territory,” said Ali Fauzi, a former member of the South-East Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia, which is blamed for the Bali bombings. He is now a university lecturer and speaks against terrorism.
But Islamic State’s brutal tactics, including filmed beheadings, have alienated some hardline Muslim groups.
Fauzi said JI was opposed to Islamic State’s attacks on religious minorities that sparked US intervention last year.