The radical extremist ISIS has two pilots as members of their group, a leaked intelligence report by the Australian Federal Police shows. The two pilots are Indonesian nationals.
The alleged radicalized pilots were identified as Ridwan Agustin, alias Hobi Panahan, and Tommy Hendratno, alias Tomi Abu Alfatih. They work as commercial pilots with experience flying with Air Asia and Premier. The two were named by the AFP in a March 18 operational intelligence report, the U.S. investigative journalism site The Intercept states.
“On 16 March 2015, information was received by the AFP that indicated two possible Indonesian pilots, likely employees of AirAsia and Premiair, had posted information on their Facebook pages that inferred support to the Islamic State (IS),” the report reads. “Upon review of the content from both accounts it is assessed that these persons are likely being influenced by radical elements – at least from the online environment – and as a result, may pose a security threat.”
The report, titled ‘Identification of Indonesian pilots with possible extremist persuasions,’ theorized the two Indonesian pilots were influenced by “pro-ISIS elements including extremist online propaganda by well-known radical Indonesia outlets and a suspected foreign terrorist fighter.” The AFP believed the latter is likely to be either in Syria or Iraq.
Copies of the report have been forwarded to authorities in Turkey, Jordan, the UK and the U.S. as well as Europol. Indonesia has yet to receive a copy. It is believed over 500 Indonesians have traveled to Syria to join the Isis, but the figure could be higher, The Independent states.
The report warned this development could jeopardize the security of the entire global aviation industry both on land and on air. It noted authorities observed that powerful terror groups have been pursuing aviation workers to join their fold. If this happens, they will have immediate access to arrange massive attacks.
“Pilots, air crew and others with access to and within the aviation environment can pose obvious threats if these persons are radicalized,” the report says.
Such theories aren’t far-fetched. One can already imagine what happened during the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
“Their access and knowledge of security and safety regimes provides the ability to attempt attacks as witnessed by past global events. It is noted that a recent edition of the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire actively encouraged attacks within the aviation environment.” The report strongly noted both men were trained pilots with contacts in the industry.
Badrodin Haiti, Singapore police chief, told The Straits Times, they are now investigating the two men and their alleged links with the ISIS. The Intercept reports Agustin and Hendratno are no longer connection with AirAsia Indonesia and Premiair, respectively.