ISLAMIC State (IS) alleges high-profile fighter Bahrumsyah was not killed in Syria, as was previously reported.
IS news outlet Amaq News Agency announced “the news was false. He is still fresh and healthy.”
Bahrumsyah was one of the first Indonesians to join IS, believed to have departed for Syria in 2014 to join the fight against the Assad Government. The Straits Times reported last Wednesday he had been killed in a botched bomb attack on Syrian soldiers, when his suicide bomb exploded prematurely.
The militant’s supposed death was widely reported by Indonesian media. The below cartoon from local publication Daily Monthly reads, “no need to mourn the death of Bahrumsyah. There is nothing to be praised.”
— IgorMeyers (@IgorMeyers) March 19, 2017
“It wasn’t Bahrumsyah. The man killed wasn’t even from Indonesia. He was from Uzbekistan, according to IS,” Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Ipac) director Sidney Jones said.
Jones explained there was a mistake in the wording of the original report by UAE-based outlet Al-Masdar News and the militant killed was in fact Abu Muhammad Uzbekistan, not Abu Muhammad al Indonesi as Bahrumsyah is also known.
Indonesia’s authorities appear to have been vindicated, given their refusal to confirm Bahrumsyah’s death last week.
Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit Special Detachment 88 (Densus 88) refused to confirm Bahrumsyah’s death. They said generally deaths of fellow militants were discussed via digital communications and they needed to monitor communications between other Indonesian IS members before making any announcement.
National police chief General Tito Karnavian said on Friday they were working with Interpol to confirm “whether or not the rumour is true.”
Bahrumsyah leads Katibah Nusantara, a unit of fighters from the Malay Archipelago in Syria, and is believed to have helped fund the terrorist attack in Central Jakarta last January which killed eight people.
Along with Abu Jandal, he is one of the most highly ranked Indonesian militants fighting with IS. In January, Bahrumsyah’s third wife Nia Kurniawati was one of 17 Indonesian citizens deported from Turkey for attempting to enter Syria.