8 deported from Singapore over ISIS images freed by Indonesian police

Riau Island police chief Sam Budigusdian holding up a picture of eight suspects who were deported, during a press conference in Batam on Wednesday (11 January). (PHOTO: Reuters)

Indonesian police have freed the eight men who were arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint on Wednesday (11 January) and deported for possessing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) material.

According to a Batam Pos report on Friday, the men – who were deported to Malaysia and later to Batam – were investigated for two days by Riau Island police and Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit, Densus 88, but no indications of terrorist activity were found.

The eight have been sent back. They had nothing to do (with terrorism),” said Riau Islands police chief Sam Budigusdian.

The eight deportees claimed they were preachers from the Tablighi Jamaat global Sunni Muslim missionary group, said a TODAYOnline report citing a spokesman from the counter-terrorism division of Malaysia’s Special Branch. The group’s teachings in Malaysia have been largely moderate, the spokesman said.

The group was detained at the Woodlands Checkpoint as one of its members was found to have ISIS-related photographs stored on his mobile phone, including one of a homemade shoe bomb.

The man in question, identified by media reports as 37-year-old Ridce Elfi Hendra, said he had the pictures as he had once been part of an ISIS-affiliated group. He said he had left the group after disagreeing with its direction.

Police chief Sam said the men had been sent back to West Sumatra, where local police will keep an eye on them.