‘Deradicalized’ IS supporters back in society
Fifteen of 18 returnees from Syria complete deradicalization program Former IS supporters testify IS propaganda tricked them
Life with the Islamic State (IS) in Syria was nothing like the group promoted on the internet, as IS militants, it turned out, endorsed violence and brutality even toward other Muslims.
That was the gist of testimonies made by 18 Indonesians who had spent nearly two years with the IS in Raqqa, Syria, before finally returning to Indonesia with the help of the government on Aug. 12.
Difansa Rachmani, 32, described IS’ teachings as “rotten” and the opposite of true Islam, which valued every human life, while IS militants executed anyone who did not adhere to their beliefs.
“From what I saw, IS pursues three things: power, money and women [...] IS is not about endorsing true Islam,” Difansa testified in a video released by the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).
Heru Kurnia, 55, also recounted IS’ gruesome executions. Two weeks before he fled IS territory, he was horrified by a beheaded corpse put in a clock tower.
Dwi Djoko Wiwoho, 50, a former high-ranking official in Batam, Riau Islands, who took his wife and three daughters to join IS in 2015, recounted, “It was said there were free schools, but when we arrived, they asked [women] to marry them. Many people came to ask to [marry] my little daughter,” Dwi said in the video.
The three were among 18 former IS supporters who had been detained at BNPT’s deradicalization center in Sentul, West Java, to engage in deradicalization programs since their arrival in Indonesia, last month.
On Wednesday, 15 of them — nine women, five men and three children — were released from the center to reintegrate back into society.
During the one-month deradicalization program, they participated in programs about nationalism, religious knowledge, as well as psychology, BNPT’s head of penitentiary supervision sub-directorate Col. Andy Prasetyo said.
“They realized that [Indonesia] was better and decided to come home [...] For them, this is their second chance to live wholeheartedly in this nation,” he said recently.
The 15 people were returned to their original communities under the coordination of officials from the Home Ministry, as well as military and police officers in their respective hometowns, Andy said. He added that BNPT had also handed over their medical and psychological data to the officials.
As many as 10 were sent to Bogor, West Java, while Dwi’s wife and their three children are now in Cipayung, East Jakarta. One person had joined the community in Depok, West Java, according to BNPT’s deradicalization director Irfan Idris.
Heru and Dwi are among the three people who are yet to be returned home.
The Antiterrorism Law in the country does not carry criminal charges against those who travel abroad to join terrorist movements.
The National Police recorded that at least 600 Indonesian citizens departed for Syria last year. From 2014 to January 2017, the Turkish government deported 225 Indonesians who had attempted to join IS.
The BNPT and relevant stakeholders would continue to monitor those who completed the deradicalization programs and engage in dialogues with them to ensure they would not disseminate or return to radicalism, Irfan said.
“No one can guarantee whether they will return [to radicalism] or not [...] but we place faith in their promises to support the government to prevent people from falling for [IS] propaganda,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
He expressed hope the public would accept the former IS supporters and help them integrate back into society.