Indonesia radio denies Singapore's radical preaching claim

By AFP   August 22, 2016 | 04:26 pm GMT+7

"We have been preaching against people who are not practicing true Islam," said the radio station manager.

An Indonesian radio station Monday denied airing extremist sermons after Singapore linked it to the radicalization of two men detained in the city-state who allegedly planned to join the Islamic State group.

Singapore announced last week that Rosli bin Hamzah, 50, and Mohamed Omar bin Mahadi, 33, were being held under a tough internal security law after authorities discovered they intended to travel to Syria to fight for IS.

Several years ago the Singaporean men started listening to Radio Hang, based on the Indonesian island of Batam just south of Singapore, according to the city-state's Ministry of Home Affairs.

The station "sometimes features speakers who preach extreme religious views", the ministry said, and the pair went on to read more radical material about IS which fuelled their desire to join the jihadists.

Radio Hang station manager Abu Yusuf said the station broadcast religious sermons but never spread "IS teachings".

"On the contrary, we have been preaching against people who are not practicing true Islam," he told AFP.

"We have been helping the government to broadcast teachings against terrorism."

The broadcasting regulator had monitored Radio Hang but did not find any violations and the station's broadcasts were "very anti-radical", said Suyono, a local official from the body who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, has long struggled with Islamic militancy. After a lull of several years there has been an increase in attacks and attempted attacks in the past year due to growing support for IS.

The Singapore ministry said Rosli, who worked as a car washer, became convinced IS militants were fighting for Islam while Omar, a waste truck driver, had made preparations with his wife and children to travel to Syria.

They are being held under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

Singaporean officials have repeatedly warned that the city-state, a U.S. ally in the region is a prime target for IS militants.

Earlier this month Indonesian police arrested six suspected militants over a plot to launch a rocket attack on an upmarket Singapore waterfront district from Batam.

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