News / Asia

    Indonesians Struggle to Combat Extremist Ideologies

    Indonesian members of Hizbut Tahrir, a conservative Islamic group in Jakarta, Indonesia, carry placards with signs reading, "Capitalism sucks the peoples blood" and "Uphold Sharia and Islamic government" in protest against capitalism.
    Indonesian members of Hizbut Tahrir, a conservative Islamic group in Jakarta, Indonesia, carry placards with signs reading, "Capitalism sucks the peoples blood" and "Uphold Sharia and Islamic government" in protest against capitalism.
    Brian Padden

    The January 14 terrorist attack in Indonesia has again raised the issues of how to combat extremist Islamist ideology and rehabilitate or de-radicalize militants in the world’s biggest Muslim country.

    Indonesian police named Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant based in Syria with Islamic State militant group (IS), as the principal organizer of the Jakarta attack where eight people died, including four assailants, in multiple bomb blasts and gunfire.
     
    Prior to joining IS, Bahrun Naim studied with Hizbut Tahrir, a conservative Muslim organization that, like Islamic State, opposes the diverse, secular democracy of Indonesia and advocates for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.  Hizbut Tahrir, however, does not support the use of violence to achieve this goal.
     
    Hizbut Tahrir has been banned in a number of countries, but spokesman Muhammad Ismail Yusanto says the same democratic rights that his organization opposes permit them to speak out against the state of Indonesia.
     
    “So Hizbut Tahrir used this loophole and I think as far as we work according to the law, I mean we do not pick [break] the law, we have [the] right to express ideals,” he said.

    Yusanto says Bahrun was expelled from Hizbut Tahrir when it was found out he was secretly hiding a weapon.
     
    “He told us that the weapon had been thrown out,” Yusanto said.
     
    Hizbut Tahrir has been called a “conveyor belt to terrorism” by its critics and a peaceful alternative to militant Islam by its defenders.

    Indonesian Muslims Protest Plans to Burn Koran on September 11
    Indonesian Muslims Protest Plans to Burn Koran on September 11


    De-radicalization
     
    The dilemma Indonesia faces in dealing with Hizbut Tahrir illustrates some of the difficulties involved in trying to combat extremist ideologies.  
     
    This week, President Joko Widodo called for increased programs to de-radicalize Muslims who have embraced violent extremist beliefs; but, security analyst Evan Laksmana, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, asks if intolerant ideology is the main driver for terrorism, then should the government target all groups that oppose Indonesia’s democracy?
     
    “Technically the de-radicalization campaign should also target groups like Hizbut Tahrir, right?” he said.
     
    He says Indonesia cannot effectively control what is said in every mosque in the country, but, that the government lacks sufficient data to explain why some Indonesian Muslims join violent Islamist groups.
     
    The main method for rehabilitating Islamist militants in Indonesia is through prison workshops that promote a counter-Islamic ideology and favor tolerance.
     
    These programs, Laksmana says, have often been ineffective.
     
    Prisoners will go along with the counseling and pledge loyalty to the state just to get a reduced sentence.
     
    “Many reports have suggested (they) are simply being used as a transactional method by these terrorists to simply get off easy from prison,” said Laksmana.
     
    At the same time, prisoners can be exposed to violent extremist ideologies and recruited into terrorist groups while incarcerated.    
     
    Bahrun Naim served nearly two-and-a-half years in prison for illegal possession of firearms and explosives before he joined IS in Syria in 2014.
     
    Police reportedly believe Bahrun is a supporter of jailed cleric Aman Abdurrahman, who is an influential Indonesian militant.  There are also reports that one of the assailants in the Jakarta attack shared a cell with Abdurrahman.
     
    Critics of Indonesia’s de-radicalization efforts say more research is needed to develop an effective program to change hearts and minds. They say the immediate focus of the government should be to isolate possible militant recruiters in prison, prevent Indonesians from joining IS and disrupt and dismantle terror networks before they strike.   

    Ade Irma contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora