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Deradicalization efforts failing: Police

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, March 1, 2017 | 09:49 am
Deradicalization efforts failing: Police Police members are on guard at Jl. Taruna in Bandung, Wesy Java, on Monday (Feb. 27), after arresting a suspected terrorist. (JP/Arya Dipa)

In another sign of the country’s failing deradicalization program, the National Police confirmed on Tuesday that the suspected perpetrator of a terrorist attack at a subdistrict office in Bandung, West Java, on Monday was a former terrorist convict.

Yayat Cahdiyat, also known as Abu Salam, was sentenced to three years in prison for robbing a gas station in Cikampek, West Java, to fund a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar told reporters.

Yayat was arrested and convicted in 2012. He was freed two years later after being granted a number of sentence remissions.

Shortly after his release, Yayat joined the Islamic State-linked Jemaah Ansarud Daulah (JAD) terrorist group, which is believed to be responsible for a number of terrorist attacks and plots in the country in recent years.

Boy acknowledged that Yayat’s case reflected the nation’s failure to fully rehabilitate terror convicts.

The police needed to improve coordination with the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Social Affairs Ministry to ensure that former terrorist convicts would not repeat their offenses.

“This needs to be discussed by all relevant ministries and agencies so that we can come up with a more comprehensive program,” Boy said, adding that the government should help former terrorist convicts return to society.

“We have to admit that terrorism convicts are stigmatized after they are released from prison,” he said.

(Read also: Neighbors knew terrorist suspect as toy seller at schools)

According to police data, out of 1,200 convicts linked to various terror attacks in the country since the 2002 Bali bombings, 300 are about to be released and will join a deradicalization program.

While several former terrorist convicts such as Ali Imron, one of the Bali bombers, have successfully abandoned their radical ideologies, others, like Yayat, are reluctant to follow suit.

Agus Marshal, a former terrorist convict who was indicted together with Yayat, said the government’s deradicalization program was too formal.

“The point is [the government] must really accept each former terrorism convict so that they feel like they have a country and a government,” he said.

The 2003 Terrorism Law was more about law enforcement than efforts to prevent and preempt terror attacks, Boy said.

The House of Representatives and the government are therefore now amending the law to strengthen the BNPT and incorporate clauses on deradicalization.

Chairman of the House’s special committee on the law’s revision, Muhammad Syafi’i, said all related stakeholders, such as the Religious Affairs, Social Affairs and Culture and Education ministries would work under the coordination of the BNPT regarding deradicalization and rehabilitation.

Each terrorism convict will take part in different deradicalization programs in the prisons, depending on what led them into terrorism.

“If they became terrorists because of economic problems, like unemployment, it’s the Social Affairs Ministry that will be in charge of the program, by giving them a form of skills-training so that they can find work after their sentence. If it’s because of their radical ideology, it’s the Religious Affairs Ministry that will handle it,” Syafi’i said.

Current prison deradicalization programs, he said, were far from good. “Prisons, nowadays, are more like schools for criminals,” said the Gerindra Party lawmaker. A scene from the play Opera Ikan Asin (Salted Fish Opera) shows the wedding of Mekhit, the bandit king of Batavia. (dis)

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