Reports suggest that the number of Islamic State (ISIS) recruits from Indonesia tripled to over 500 by the end of last year.
Home to the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia's more than 200 million Muslims make up 13% of the world's total Muslims. The nation's history of extremist movements makes it a ripe location for ISIS recruits.
Wildan Mukholland was one of those recruits. He came from the same village in Indonesia as two militants convicted and executed for their role in the 2002 Bali terrorist bombings, which killed over 200 people and were carried out by Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
Mukholland grew up admiring the two terrorists and eventually went on to join ISIS and move to the Middle East. Last year, he blew himself up in a terrorist attack in a restaurant in Baghdad.
Of the more than 500 Indonesians that are believed to have joined ISIS, about half have gone on to fight in Syria or Iraq. Contrast this with the fact less than 200 Indonesians were estimated to have fought in Afghanistan for al-Qaeda.
Radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir -- viewed as the spiritual leader of the al-Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah -- is currently in an Indonesian prison in Java, but has declared support for ISIS. Ba'asyir has pledged allegiance to ISIS from his jail cell and is encouraging radicals to join the group.
Like other radicals, Indonesian extremists have even brought their families to Syria and Iraq so they could live under full Islamic law, and receive stipends for housing, food, and education and radical schools.
From its move to independence in 1949 until today, extremists have sought to make Indonesia an Islamic State.
The push for extremism was seen in a nearly 30-year war waged by separatists in the province of Aceh. After Aceh was devastated by the 2005 tsunami, a peace deal was struck between rebels and the government.
Unfortunately, the central government of Indonesia is allowing the provincial government in Aceh to implement and enforce Shariah law. Leaders in Aceh believe that they were being punished by the tsunami, and this is their way to repent.
Many of those implementing the Shariah code claim it is a milder form of Shariah because it lacks frequent executions. However, reports of hooded-medieval style figures conducting public canings for "crimes" such as drinking and working during prayers, and beatings of gays and adulterers caught having sex, are certainly very disturbing.
A Pew Research Survey found that an astounding 72% of Indonesian Muslims would prefer to live under Shariah law.
The State Department details other Indonesian extremist groups in their most recent country report on terrorism from 2013. There were 40 separate raids that led to the arrests of more than 75 suspects.
One of the biggest incidents saw a planned attack on the Embassy of Burma thwarted. Many of the terrorist attacks were targeted at police.
ISIS is not the only terrorist group looking for a base in Indonesia. Hamas tried to open an office there to help manage its fundraising operations in the region, but was denied.
Fears of ISIS within Indonesia were heightened by a recent chlorine bomb -- similar to what ISIS has used in attacks -- that failed to detonate in a mall in Jakarta.
Many leaders in Indonesia are calling for stricter laws to prevent the growth of ISIS. National Police Inspector-General Tito Karnavian is working with government leaders to ban verbal support for ISIS, prohibit overseas travel to support terrorist groups and revoke the citizenship of those who have joined radical groups.
If Indonesia and other nations want send a message that joining ISIS is completely unacceptable and members will be swiftly removed from society, they ought to take advice from Charles Crawford, who, in a Gatestone Institute column last month, called for those who join ISIS to be put on a suspected war criminals list.
President Obama's strategy to 'degrade and destroy' ISIS is failing. We need victories against ISIS around the world -- including in Indonesia.
Indonesia has tried to position itself as a tolerant Muslim nation. How boldly and effectively it confronts ISIS will be a defining moment for this nation and its position in the world.
George Phillips served as an aide to Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, working on human rights issues.