Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Indonesia's 'deradicalization' program. Does it work?

Original source: Antara News

Despite the recent death of top terrorist Noordin M Top, President Yudhoyono has warned that it does not mean that the terrorist network in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, has been paralyzed.

The head of state`s statement was supported by various officials and elements including Ansyaad Mbai, head of the political, legal and security coordinating ministry`s anti-terror desk.

"We should not be too overjoyed about the death of Noordin M top and his associates, because the threat of terrorism still exists in Indonesia. What we should do is to continue addressing the root of the problem," Ansyaad Mbai said.

The government viewed radicalism as the root of terrorism, therefore it has long been implementing a de-radicalization program, especially in the wake of the series of terrorist bombings since 2002, he said.

However, the government`s deradicalization program to fight terrorism is not easy to implement and has so far not yielded optimum results.

"It concerns one`s ideology which is not so easy to change. So, this program has so far not yielded optimum results," Ansyaad Mbai said.

The program involved prominent religious figures, Islamic scholars (ulema), and Islamic boarding school (`pesantren`) teachers and was designed to rectify the misconceived or distorted Islamic teachings adhered to by terrorists, according to the national security official.

The government has also been cooperating with several other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan in implementing the program, among other things by inviting their ulemas to Indonesia and distributing books on Islam to correct the radicals` misunderstandings about Islamic teachings.

Although the US was not openly mentioned by Indonesia`s officials as a country which had helped `moderation` of the country`s Muslims, an article entitled "Hearts, Minds and Dollars" written by David E Kaplan, in US News.com, on April 17, 2005, revealed the US` role in countries like Indonesia, Egypt and Pakistan.

"After repeated missteps since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has embarked on a campaign of political warfare unmatched since the height of the Cold War.

From military psychological-operations teams and CIA covert operatives to openly funded media and think tanks, Washington is plowing tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to influence not only Muslim societies but Islam itself," Kaplan wrote.

In at least two dozen countries, Washington has quietly funded Islamic radio and TV shows, coursework in Muslim schools, Muslim think tanks, political workshops, or other programs that promote moderate Islam, through a strategy called Muslim World Outreach, he wrote.

The US` partners included allied Muslim states, private foundations, and nonprofit groups who share values like democracy, women`s rights, and tolerance, he added.

"In no country is the effort more pronounced than Indonesia, the world`s largest Muslim nation, with 240 million people. A bastion of moderate Islam, the nation has nevertheless given birth to several radical Islamic groups that include al Qaeda offshoot Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202," Kaplan wrote.

Working behind the scenes, USAID now helps fund over 30 Muslim organizations in Indonesia. Among the programs: media production, workshops for Islamic preachers, and curriculum reform for schools from rural academies to Islamic universities, according to the US News article.


Hearts, Minds, and Dollars - By David E. Kaplan, USNEWS - Posted 4/17/05

`Deradicalization' works, claims book - The Jakarta Post

Changing the militant mindset: few signs of success - Reuters

Indonesia's Islamic Schools: More Female Friendly