Terrorist rehabilitation
program criticized

Radicalism and failures on the part of state institutions have hindered programs aimed at rehabilitating convicted terrorists, experts say.

“Up until July 17, there were some people who said ‘the rehabilitation program is a success because there haven't been any bombing for four years’,” director of the International Crisis Group, Sidney Jones, said at the launch of a book on terrorism at the University of Indonesia in Depok on Thursday.

“That was incredibly simplistic and naïve. It’s just as simplistic and naïve to say that the program is a failure because there was a bombing. It's much more complicated than that,” she added.

Jones said that even in Saudi Arabia, a country with a terrorist rehabilitation program considered more advanced that Indonesia’s, a number of people who have gone through the program returned to their radical roots.
“In Saudi Arabia, we have on a list of 85 most wanted 11 members [of the program] who have become al Qaeda executives in Yemen. So, 11 people from Saudi Arabia, who graduated from the rehabilitation program and were deemed a success, fled to Yeman and are now senior leaders of al Qaeda in Yemen,” she said.

“That doesn't mean that the program in Saudi Arabia is a failure, but it does mean that we have to think about what to do about the people who don't respond. In Indonesia, it's people like Urwah, like Bagus Budi Pranoto. What can be done about those people who don't respond?” she said.

Jones believes the country needs to further integrate cooperation between state institutions including the ministries and the police.

“If we look at the program in Saudi Arabia, it is very integrated, with many different parts of the government involved,” she said.

“In Indonesia, even though there is a little bit being done by the religious affairs ministry, a little bit being done by other departments, it's almost entirely the police,” she added.

University of Indonesia professor of criminology Adrianus Meliala said he was not surprised by the lack of support for the program among state institutions.

Post Your Say

Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.