ISIS Cells Are in 'Almost Every Province' of Indonesia: Army Chief

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has a presence in "almost every province of Indonesia" said General Gatot Nurmantyo late Monday. The militants can be found in sleeper cells across the country, the country's military chief said.

Indonesia is the largest moderate Muslim-majority nation in the world, and there are concerns that the cells "can easily join up with other radical cells."

The Philippine Army has been fighting ISIS-linked Maute group in Marawi city, just a few miles off the north coast of Indonesia. The Philippine army told Reuters Tuesday that the militants control about a fifth of the city.

"It's easy to jump from Marawi to Indonesia and we must all beware of sleeper cells being activated in Indonesia," Nurmantyo told reporters at a press conference in Jakarta.

"Almost in all Indonesian provinces, except for [majority-Christian] Papua, there are ISIS sleeper cells," he added.

Sleeper cells tend to have be radicalized but are not active, and may engage in passive resistance—for example harboring fleeing fighters from neighboring Marawi, he warned, according to The Straits Times.

Ganip Warsito is an army major general overseeing Sulawesi and the border with the Philippines. He said: "If the Philippines wins, Indonesia would get a spillover effect from the retreating militants, but if the Philippines loses, Mindanao would be a strong regional ISIS base that threatens Indonesia among others."

To try to address the risk, more Indonesian troops have been stationed on islands that border with Philippines.

One of the main concerns is that many of the border areas between the Philippines and Indonesia are traditional trading routes. General Ganip is worried that ISIS militants may try to cross into Indonesia by being smuggled by merchants.