A terrorist group, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia and was behind the 2002 Bali bombing, recently installed 13,000 charity boxes at marketplaces across the Muslim-majority country of Indonesia to trick people into funding its activities, police found.
The archipelago’s national police on Wednesday disclosed that the Jamaah Islamiyah terrorist group, which has links with al-Qaeda, had deployed charity boxes to raise funds, the U.S.-based group International Christian Concern reported, quoting local sources.
Police learned about the charity boxes after questioning 24 members of the group who had been arrested over the last two months.
“The funds collected are used to send people to Syria, to fund military training, help wanted terrorists to evade capture, and to purchase guns and explosives,” National Police spokesman Brigadier-General Awi Setiyono was quoted as saying.
Setiyono said at least 13,000 boxes were placed under the name of a charity group, called the BM ABA foundation.
While Indonesia’s police learned about it only recently, the terrorist group had apparently been raising money from the public for a long time.
Ken Setiawan, a former terrorist recruiter and founder of a deradicalization organization Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) Crisis Center, said that terrorists had been masking their fundraising efforts using charity activities in the past two decades.
“They created legal organizations in the form of NGOs, orphanage foundations, to charity organizations. Foundations created by these radical groups have spread under the guise of social activities,” Setiawan said.
Last month, about 10 people from a terrorist group slit the throats of three Christians and beheaded another one, apart from attacking a Salvation Army post and Christians’ homes in a hilly, remote village near the region of Sigi in Central Sulawesi province on the island of Sulawesi.
The suspected terrorists also set fire to a church and burned down the homes of six churchgoers after they attacked the Lewonu Lembantongoa Service Post of the Salvation Army, ICC reported.
The Southeast Asian country is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. While its Constitution is based on the doctrine of Pancasila — five principles upholding the nation’s belief in the one and only God and social justice, humanity, unity and democracy for all — there are many extremist groups in Indonesia that oppose the doctrine as well as “Christianization,” which for them is mainly conversion of Muslims and building of Christian houses of worship.