The Islamic State group's recruitment numbers in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, have tripled in the last few months to at least 514, the nation's counterterrorism chief said. Saud Usman Nasution also said Monday that about half the recruits who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq for the group, also known as ISIS, had been living in nearby countries as students or migrant workers.
"In June 2014, the number of ISIS followers embarking from Indonesia was 86. The number soared to 264 in October," Saud said on the sidelines of a recent meeting of Nahdlatul Ulama, the nation's largest Muslim organization, the Straits Times reported.
Since June, when ISIS rose to significant power, Indonesia has been closely monitoring its recruitment efforts. The state intelligence agency has been keeping tabs on recruitment by monitoring those who have a record of terrorism activities.
According to reports from Al Monitor in October, Indonesia's capacity to follow and control ISIS supporters is limited because of its weak law enforcement.
A report published by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in September said the development of ISIS support began in an online chat room that was run by the founder of Al-Muhajiroun, a terrorist organization based in the U.K. in 2005. The founder of that chat room began organizing events across Indonesian cities to convince people there to pledge allegiance to ISIS.
“One recommendation to the new government: Strengthen the capacity of the prisons and the immigration service to monitor potential troublemakers but keep counterterrorism securely in the hands of the police," Sidney Jones, IPAC's director, said in the report. "Even in the face of an enhanced threat, it would only muddy the waters to try and carve out a larger role for the military.”