The country’s counterterrorism body has adopted a softer deradicalization campaign to curb terrorism, by opening dialogue with imprisoned and potential terrorists to help them denounce their radical thinking.

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Police Comr. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said that terrorism needed to be handled with a soft approach and if possible by capturing terrorists or potential terrorists alive so they could share their stories about their path to radicalism.

Saud also said that the current aggressive global approach adopted by international terrorist groups could influence the minds of Indonesian Muslims and that deradicalization based on dialogue and reasoning was needed more than ever to deter the spread of radical ideology.

He said that he planned to engage in dialogue with imprisoned terrorists and include a number of Muslim clerics both from Indonesia and the Middle East. The BNPT, in collaboration with the National Police, will also open dialogue with potential terror suspects with the assistance of former terrorists. 

“We will try and help these jailed suspects by helping them figure out what they can do after they have been released from prison. That way, we are also trying to prevent them from going back to their old ways by showing we care about their lives and their health upon their release,” Saud told reporters.

“We must attack the problem at the core. Changing mindsets takes time and that is why we need an organizational role in that process by rehabilitating jailed terrorists or speaking with those at risk,” he said.

The BNPT said that 400 former terrorists had been released from prison. The agency has emphasized the importance of monitoring them to prevent them from reverting to terrorism.

To support deradicalization, the BNPT, police, Foreign Ministry, Japan-ASEAN Integrated Fund (JAIF) and the Indonesian Institute for Society and Empowerment (INSEP) have come together for the “Publishing for Counter Radicalization” project. 

The project involves translating two works by Egyptian expert on Islamic Radicalism Adbel Mo’nem Moneb that touch on the state of radical Islamic movements in Egypt and on how former extremists repented their violent ways.

The works will be distributed to institutions such as the BNPT, police and Foreign Ministry to help identify the movements and activities of Egyptian terror groups that have made their way onto Indonesian shores. 

Moneb, who has been studying radical and terror movements in Egypt for the past 20 years, was once jailed for getting involved with such movements in his youth. According to him, most major radical groups that have existed in Indonesia, such as the Jamaah Islamiyah, Jamaah Tabligh and Tanzim al-Jihad, all originated from Egypt and spread to Indonesia through the Internet and extremist publications from the Middle East.

“Identifying the movements of these terror groups is important for Indonesia because they must understand how these groups function and shift globally,” Moneb said.


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