Indonesia to deport British woman who married militant

Indonesian authorities say they plan to deport a British woman married to a slain Indonesian militant because of a visa violation and her alleged link to a hard-line religious group

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities said Wednesday they plan to deport a British woman married to a slain Indonesian militant because of a visa violation and her alleged link to a hard-line religious group.

Police said Tazneen Miriam Sailar was taken to Jakarta’s immigration detention center after Indonesia’s Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center linked her to the religious group Islamic Defenders Front, which was officially outlawed on Dec. 30.

National Police spokesperson Ahmad Ramadhan said Sailar, a charity fundraiser who grew up in Manchester, converted to Islam when she married a now-deceased Indonesian militant, Asep Ahmad Setiawan, in 2010.

Setiawan, a member of Indonesia’s al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network, died in a combat zone in Syria in 2014, Ramadhan said. The group was blamed for a series of attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

“We are still investigating whether she has a role in terrorist acts,” Ramadhan said.

Sailar’s lawyer, Farid Ghozali, said her client has been a humanitarian activist for disaster victims in Indonesia and abroad since 2005.

“We are only focusing on her immigration offenses as she has no terrorism charge,” Ghozali said.

Immigration authorities have been coordinating with British diplomats on her deportation, said Ahmad Nursaleh, spokesperson for the Directorate General of Immigration. He said Sailar’s visa expired two years ago.

Nursaleh didn’t say when the deportation would occur. Sailar has a 10-year-old son born in Indonesia.

The British Embassy in Jakarta declined to comment.

The politically influential Islam Defenders Front was banned after its leader, Rizieq Shihab, was arrested on charges of inciting people to breach pandemic restrictions by holding events with large crowds. It wants Islamic Shariah law to apply to all of Indonesia’s 230 million Muslims. The group has gained significant influence in recent years through humanitarian and charity work.

A court banned Jemaah Islamiyah in 2008, and the group was weakened by a sustained crackdown on militants by Indonesia’s counterterrorism police with U.S. and Australian support. A new threat has emerged in recent years inspired by Islamic State group attacks abroad.