Indonesia ramps up anti-terror crackdown as Muslim nations condemn Kabul attacks

Singapore: Security forces in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority nation, will step up an anti-terror crackdown after the deadly attacks in Kabul claimed by an Islamic State affiliate.

There was strong condemnation from Muslim nations on Friday of the blasts that killed at least 85 people, including 13 US servicemen.

Indonesia, home to 225 million Muslims, joined governments in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt in denouncing the suicide bombings outside Kabul airport.

Wounded Afghans lie in hospital after the deadly explosions outside the airport in Kabul.Credit:AP

Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had, in the hours before the explosions, been in Qatar, where she met with representatives of the Taliban in Doha.

“I conveyed to the Taliban the importance of an inclusive government in Afghanistan; respecting women’s rights; and ensuring Afghanistan does not become a breeding ground for terrorist organisation and activities,” she said.

“Indonesia strongly condemns the terrorist attacks near Kabul airport which killed dozens and injured many.”

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, branded the attacks as “incompatible with all religious principles and moral and human values”, Turkey slammed the “heinous attack in the strongest terms” and Egypt decried it as “gruesome terrorism”.

The Foreign Ministry in India, which has the third-largest Muslim population in the world, said the bombings “reinforce the need for the world to stand unitedly against terrorism and all those who provide sanctuaries to terrorists”.

A member of the police bomb disposal squad inspects a suspicious package found inside a garbage, that they later destroyed, in Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, on Monday.Credit:AP

If that was a shot at arch enemy Pakistan for having been a hub for terrorists, Pakistan Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said it also condemned terrorism in all forms.

The Taliban itself also said, via a spokesman, that it denounced the attacks and that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as it refers to itself as, was “paying close attention to the security and protection of its people and evil circles will be strictly stopped”.

There have been fears that the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan could inspire a resurgence of violent Islamic extremism that stretches to other parts of the world including south-east Asia.

The attacks in Kabul were claimed by terror group ISIS-Khorasan, a wing of Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is an ardent adversary of the Taliban.

In Indonesia, police have said terrorism suspects they captured this month had told them of plans for an attack on the country’s Independence Day last week by members of al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah.

Counter-terrorism operatives there have engaged in a ruthless campaign to weed out insurgents from JI, which was behind the 2002 Bali bombings, and Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, the hardline IS-affiliated militants blamed for more recent attacks on churches in Indonesia and the Philippines.

“The development in Afghanistan makes security agencies give more serious attention [to the security situation] not just the police but other agencies as well such as the State Intelligence Agency and [national counter-terrorism agency] BNPT,” Indonesian police spokesman Rusdi Hartono said on Friday.

“We also monitor the ex-Afghanistan people [Indonesians who used to fight there].

“[Indonesian police’s counter-terrorism squad] Detachment88 has recently arrested 58 alleged terrorists. This is part of our effort to protect our country from these groups. They are from JI and JAD. Until now, conditions are under control.

“Of course, we hope what happened in Afghanistan will have no effect on the situation at home.”

The Taliban’s reclaiming of authority with the American withdrawn from Afghanistan was met with euphoria in extremists in south-east Asia that have traditionally had links with al-Qaeda.

Jamaah Ansharusy Syariah, an offshoot of JI fronted by the son of Abu Bakar Bashir – the cleric who approved the Bali bombings – greeted the fall of Kabul with a statement last week rejoicing “for the victory of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan fighters”.

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