Indonesia govt focuses on soft approach to prevent terrorism

Indonesia govt focuses on soft approach to prevent terrorism

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has launched the country's blueprint for terrorism prevention as a guideline for the public to contribute in tackling radicalism.

BNPT chief Comr. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution, in a statement read out by the agency's director of protection, Brig. Gen. Herwan Chaidir, at the Aryaduta Hotel in Jakarta, said that terrorism was a very dynamic crime that constantly changed its motives, targets and networks, and that the country needed a comprehensive strategy to prevent it.

"Terrorism is an extraordinary crime, but prior to this we have never had a handbook on its prevention. I hope this blueprint can be our guideline from now on," Saud said Thursday night.

Based on BNPT data, between 2000 and 2014 there were 950 people implicated in terrorism in Indonesia, 12 of whom were suicide bombers, three who had been executed, 349 sentenced to imprisonment and 380 acquitted.

Indonesia ranks 31st in the Institute for Economics and Peace's 2014 Global Terrorism Index from 162 countries surveyed for terrorism impact, scoring 4.67 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Saud said that in a bid to fight terrorism, the BNPT must no longer merely focus on the hard and punitive approach because it would not be able to reach the root of the problem.

"The most important thing is a soft and persuasive approach with the people who have the potential to become involved in terrorism," Saud said.

The 152-page blueprint mentions seven factors that can lead someone into radicalism: poverty, political disagreement, poor education, social, culture, psychological condition and technology.

Saud added that the BNPT had started two soft-approach strategies. The first was a counter-radicalization programme by developing nationalism and a spirt of anti-violence through formal and informal education institutions, while the second was a deradicalization programme to convince militants to disengage.

He said further that preventing terrorism rested not only on the shoulders of the government, police and state intelligence but also on the publics' because the call to join in terrorism had been found in schools, universities, the media and even places of worship.

Previously Saud said that the recruitment of Indonesian fighters for the militant group Islamic State (IS) had trebled in just a few months. In June, the number of IS followers departing from Indonesia was 86, but by October this has soared to 264.

In total, an estimated 514 Indonesians have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with the IS, with around half of them Indonesian citizens who were already residing in nearby countries as students or migrant workers prior to its rise.

On the sidelines of Thursday's event, Herwan told The Jakarta Post that Indonesians who left for Iraq, Syria or other countries to support IS should be restricted from returning to the country. However, he acknowledged that the government was struggling to identify them all to support the immigration office in issuing a return ban.

"A lot of them use visas for cultural or social missions to go abroad. We cannot trace all of them now, but perhaps it would be possible if we had better technology," Herwan said.

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