Indonesia: experts call for deradicalization of returning IS supporters

Indonesia: experts call for deradicalization of returning IS supporters
A Muslim boy looks on as he holds a placard at a rally organised by a Muslim charitable trust in Mumbai, India on November 26, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

The government has been urged to introduce intensive deradicalization programs, especially for women and children suspected of being Islamic State (IS) movement supporters to prevent terrorist threats and the spreading of radical ideologies.

Sidney Jones, the director of Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), said at least 50 per cent of about 100 Indonesians returning home after being deported by the Turkish government were women and children.

"The figure suggests that we should have a programme specifically aimed at women in order to try to engage the women and use them as barriers to try and deradicalize their family more generally," she said in a discussion in Jakarta.

Jones said the 100 Indonesians returning home had failed to enter Syria and had not received IS military training.

Still, the government must seriously consider introducing radicalization programs for the returnees, she said, adding that radical beliefs in Indonesia might spread from people who intended to fight as part of the radical group.

"We need to get accurate information on who they are, where they live and their affiliations. If we can't handle this right, this is going to be a major problem for Indonesia," Jones said.

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Police should co-operate with NGOs to create both short- and long-term deradicalization programs to address the issue comprehensively, instead of general policies, according to Jones.

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian agreed that an effective attempt to counter radicalization must involve various stakeholders.

He said the government must first map out radicalization activities and the locations of terrorist networks to help neutralize radical ideology infiltration and prevent people from being recruited.

"If we create programs without knowing the locations that will be targets of these terrorist organisations, we would only be wasting our resources," said the former head of the National Police's counterterrorist squad Densus 88, the achievements of which include taking down a terrorist network overseen by Malaysian national Noordin M. Top.

He said the government could create community engagement programs while keeping the nationalism campaign by upholding state ideology Pancasila and also deploy moderate religious leaders to the potential locations.

Members of the public could also be urged to counter radicalization by helping the government through the provision of information on radical movements in their communities.

Meanwhile, Islam expert and editor at German-based radio station Deutschlandfunk Thorsten Gerald Schneiders urged Indonesia to use its position as the country with the world's biggest Muslim population and the third-biggest democracy to fight radicalization. He said it required co-operation from all stakeholders, such as civil societies and policymakers, to make deradicalization programs work.

He also warned Indonesia to keep an eye on all cross-border terrorist movements and to monitor the flow of money at the national and international level.

"Most importantly, Indonesia must strengthen law enforcement to prevent the movement of these radical groups," he said.

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