Even as the riot was unfolding, the Islamic State’s propaganda arm uploaded videos and photos that it claimed were from inside the detention center, showing executed hostages and detainees brandishing weapons, raising the black flag of the Islamic State and pledging allegiance to the group’s leader.
But initially, Indonesian officials denied that Islamic State loyalists had been behind the uprising. “The trigger is trivial: complaints about food,” General Iqbal said in the early hours of the standoff on Wednesday.
There was a riot at the same police detention center last November, when terrorist detainees fought with guards during a search for contraband, including cellphones. They took photos and video of themselves brandishing Islamic State flags.
According to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a Jakarta-based research organization, the large population of terrorism suspects and convicts in the detention center has long been “a disaster waiting to happen.”
In a report the institute released in February, “we said it was A: overcrowded, and B: there was no effort at all to counsel the newly arrived detainees, and they were almost all pro-ISIS,” Sidney Jones, the institute’s director, said in an interview on Wednesday.
Ms. Jones, a prominent terrorism analyst, said the November 2017 riot was a warning to the authorities, who then began moving the most violent or radicalized convicts on terrorism charges to Nusakambangan.
The biggest attack by pro-ISIS Indonesian militants here came in January 2016, when a four men attacked a police post and shopping center in downtown Jakarta with homemade guns, bombs and suicide vests. The four attackers were killed along with four civilians, and 23 people were injured.