BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
INDONESIA will not be sending troops to join the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) militant group, said the chief of Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI).
“At this moment, we don’t have any plans to send troops to join the international community in the fight against IS,” Dato Paduka Seri General Moeldoko told The Brunei Times in a recent interview.
Moeldoko made the comments shortly after Singapore announced it would be deploying equipment and personnel to join the international coalition, making it the first ASEAN nation to commit to the battle against IS forces.
However, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen stressed that no SAF troops would be on the ground in Iraq or Syria and all assistance would operate out of neighbouring countries.
When asked whether Brunei is susceptible to the IS threat, Moeldoko said it was difficult to assess the impact because it was hard to trace the movement of IS fighters in the region.
“It’s hard to say yes and it’s hard to say no because the fighters that come back from there trying to recruit more people, they can return to their country of origin or go to a neighbouring country such as Jakarta, Singapore, Malaysia, or even to Brunei,” said the military commander.
The Brunei government has become increasingly concerned with the growing threat and reach of the extremist group, condemning its actions and calling to disrupt terrorist financing channels.
At a recent defence conference, Royal Brunei Armed Forces Commander, Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih Abdullah, said the IS ideology had gained traction in the region and that the ability of the group to attract Muslims from Southeast Asia remained a key challenge.
More than 40 nations have agreed to join a coalition that will be led by the United States against the Islamic State, a militant Sunni group seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
According to the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Indonesian and Malaysian citizens fighting in Syria have formed a unit for Malay-speaking IS fighters, which analysts fear could expand their reach into Southeast Asia. Officials estimate that some 100 Indonesian nationals and about 50 Malaysians to be fighting in Syria under the IS banner.
The Brunei Times
Monday, November 17, 2014