An Indonesian man arrested in Bali this week for suspected links to the Islamic State group after travelling to Turkey was an Australian-educated former finance ministry official, authorities said on Friday.
The Ministry of Finance said Triyono Utomo resigned from his job in the ministry’s fiscal policy office in February last year because he wanted to focus on managing an Islamic boarding school in West Java. At the time he was in line to be appointed as a division head within the office.
National Police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said Utomo, aged about 40, was well educated and studied for his master’s degree in Australia.
Four other people detained with him after they arrived in Bali on an Emirates flight were apparently his wife and three children aged 3 to 12. The ministry said it would not provide Utomo with any legal assistance.
Bali police spokesman Hengky Widjaja said on Thursday that the group was nabbed at a safe house on January 16 by Turkish soldiers.
It was the second batch of Indonesians detained this month after returning from Turkey, which has a porous border with Syria where IS militants control territory.
Last week, authorities detained 17 people, including eight women, as they arrived at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Widjaja said the five left Indonesia Aug. 15 last year for Thailand to avoid raising suspicion in Indonesia. From Thailand, they flew to Istanbul, he said.
Indonesian authorities have heightened surveillance at border checkpoints following a series of foiled plots by IS supporters.
It’s not an offense under Indonesia’s counterterrorism law to travel to Syria and authorities have resorted to making arrests under an electronic information law if they can show suspects tried to recruit others over the Internet or provided funding.
Amendments designed to stiffen the counterterrorism law have languished in parliament for the past year.