Indonesia bans hard-line Islamist group over alleged ties to IS

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Indonesia has banned the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), a hard-line and controversial Islamist group, for its alleged ties to Islamic State, the chief security minister said on Wednesday.

Mohammad Mahfud said that the group had lost its legal standing as a mass organization since June 2019 but had continued to carry out its activities as an organization and often had been at odds with the authorities.

“Starting today, if there is an organization that claims to be FPI, we should consider it non-existent because they have lost their legal standing,” Mahfud said.

At the end of the press conference, Mahfud showed a vidoe clip taken in January 2015 of FPI members pledging their allegiance to Islamic State in Makassar, in South Sulawesi province.

The FPI’s leader, firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab, who returned to Indonesia in November after a three-year, self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia, is now under police custody for alleged mass gatherings following his return that broke the Covid-19 quarantine law.

A staff member at the German embassy in Jakarta has been declared persona non grata by Indonesia’s foreign ministry following her visit to the group’s headquarters earlier this month and confirmation from the embassy that the visit was unauthorized.

The group played an influential role in organizing rallies in 2016 against then-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, whom they accused of insulting the Koran. Purnama was prosecuted on blasphemy charges and sentenced to two years in prison in 2017.

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