TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The government has decided that Indonesian nationals who left the country to join ISIS will not be repatriated, even if they are no longer a supporter of the terrorist group. Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said the decision was taken for the safety and security of 267 million Indonesians.
"The government has no plan to bring home terrorists, we are not repatriating foreign terrorist fighters," Mahfud said at the State Palace in Bogor earlier today, February 11, after attending a meeting with the president and other ministries.
Mahfud cited the latest data that there are 689 Indonesians who joined ISIS currently residing overseas, mainly in Syria and Turkey.
"It was decided during the meeting that the government has a duty to provide a sense of safety to the 267 million Indonesian people; safe from terror threats and the recent virus outbreak. If we return foreign terrorist fighters here, they might become a new virus that makes the public feel unsafe," he said.
Nevertheless, Mahfud said the government is considering to repatriate children under the age of 10.
"It would be looked at case by case, though. We will see if they still have parents or orphaned," he said.
An Indonesian national who was a former ISIS member, Aleeyah Mujahid (not her real name), posted to social media the story of how she joined ISIS. The 25-year-old woman said she decided to "disappear" and leave her family and friends in Jakarta in 2015, and flew to Syria.
"My goal? A better life. A better life for me is not about the economy—it's about the salvation of my religion," she wrote in a post that Tempo was given permission to quote.
Aleeyah is currently living in a refugee camp in Rojava with 13 other Indonesians.