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31139Taming convicted terrorists

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  • Sunny
    Dec 9, 2013
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      Taming convicted terrorists
      Yuliasri Perdani and Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Mon, December 09 2013, 8:59 AM

      With almost a hundred convicted terrorists set to be released in the next three years, the government is preparing its first-ever comprehensive scheme to lead them away from extremism, and from resorting to similar crimes and violence.

      The plan, detailed in the newly launched “deradicalization blueprint” arranged by the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), stipulates that terrorist inmates will take part in catered and specialized rehabilitation programs based on their level of involvement in terrorism.

      “The blueprint is the first of its kind here. It not only details the set-up of the system and procedures on how to disengage the inmates from committing violence but it also lays out the tasks of other institutions in the process,” BNPT prevention deputy Maj. Gen. Agus Surya Bakti told The Jakarta Post, recently.

      According to the blueprint, the deradicalization process will be conducted by a special team, jointly formed by the BNPT, the National Police and other related institutions, such as the Law and Human Rights Ministry, which oversees penitentiaries, the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Education and Culture Ministry.

      The “deradicalization team” will map the background of the militants and their family members, based on their case dossiers, conduct in-depth interviews and close observations.

      The terrorists’ relatives will also be involved in the “reeducation” program to root-out extreme religious beliefs they may hold.

      Based on the collected data, the militants will be divided into three clusters: core, militant and supporter.

      The core group consists of key intellectual actors who have the ability to influence and recruit new members. The militants are those who were directly involved in terrorism-related attacks, while supporters are those who amassed funds and provided hiding places for militants.

      According to the blueprint, all of the convicted terrorists will engage in dialogue with preachers, academics and psychologists in the hope that they will give up their violent ways and adhere to the state ideology of Pancasila.

      The convicts and their family members will participate in skills and personality development training to help them start a new life.

      The deradicalization team will collaborate with regional administrations to ensure the terrorists’ smooth transition into society.

      Terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail expected that the deradicalization blueprint would help the government deter the rate of repeat offenders.

      “From around 300 convicted terrorists who have been freed in the last few years, we saw 25 cases of recidivism,” he said recently.

      “The blueprint has a good spirit as it focuses on the terrorists and their families. How the plan is implemented, however, will be the challenge. What is the mechanism?” he said.

      Citing his experience in rehabilitating terrorist-linked inmates, Huda said that it took a great deal of time and energy to help the inmates reacclimateze to society.

      “Since its establishment in 2008, our Prasasti Perdamaian Foundation has only been able to assist 10 inmates. We have forged partnerships with numerous NGOs and local enterprises to achieve that,” he said.

      Noor also said that the deradicalization program was a “fantasy” because having radical views was a human right.

      “Unlike the government, our foundation adopts the ‘counter violence extremism’ approach. We help them express their radical beliefs in non-violent ways, such as through writing.”

      The government’s deradicalization program may also run into protracted problems in the penitentiary system, where terrorist inmates can easily spread their beliefs and lure others to join their cause.

      Prisons across the archipelago are run at an overcapacity rate of three-fold, with an obvious lack of supervision of more than 160,000 inmates.

      Spokesman for the penitentiary directorate general, Akbar Hadi Prabowo, said it was very unlikely that the agency would be able to provide specialized facilities for the terrorist inmates, due to a lack of budget.

      As of July, 271 convicted terrorists were incarcerated in prisons in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi, according to the ministry.

      In a bid to immediately resolve the problem, the BNPT will construct a special detention center for convicted terrorists at the Indonesian Peace and Security Center (IPSC) compound in Sentul, West Java.

      Some parts of the deradicalization process will also be carried out at the center, according to Agus.

      “But first, other related agencies and ministries need to commit to the blueprint. Small delivery with the blueprint is better than nothing at all,” Agus said.