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Jakarta Post

Families can counter terrorism

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 16, 2019   /   08:47 am
Families can counter terrorism AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. (Reuters/SNPA/Martin Hunter )

Shock over a suicide bombing on Wednesday in North Sumatra had barely dissipated when news broke over shootings at mosques during Friday prayers in the peaceful city of Christchurch, New Zealand. We join our neighbors in grieving for the devastating loss of lives in incidents in which so many were wounded, including two Indonesians.

Extremism is a clear and present danger to civilization, easily fueling hatred and prompting individuals to kill others, as evident in the gun attacks at two mosques in Christchurch. The police identified one perpetrator as Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, who wrote a manifesto containing “white supremacist” propaganda prior to the carnage.

We can neither tolerate such barbarism nor can we accept any intent of revenge, as it will only perpetuate a cycle of violence. As we strive to come to terms with the unprecedented attack in New Zealand, a recent incident in North Sumatra’s Sibolga regency reminds us of last year’s chilling method of involving children in mass murder.

The suicide bombing in Sibolga dealt a blow not only to our efforts to fight terrorism, but also to the idea that the nuclear family is without exception an anchor to a strong nation. Regardless of what motivated Solimah, the wife of terror suspect Husein aka Abu Hamzah, to detonate a bomb that killed her and her 2-year-old child on Wednesday, terrorists are clearly working to hijack the family institution to propagate their extremist ideologies.

Last May, a family blasted three churches in Surabaya, East Java, and another family perpetrated a bomb attack in the city’s police headquarters, while three members of a family were killed in an apartment in neighboring Sidoarjo after pipe bombs, which the police believed were planned for an attack, went off.

Terrorists are willing to recruit their wives and children, demanding absolute loyalty from them as supporters and protégés. Husein, a regional leader of the Islamic State-affiliated Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD) who was arrested Wednesday, is suspected to have followed such a model in spreading his teachings. The police said Husein had also planned for his second wife to become a suicide bomber.

The police investigation found Husein had indoctrinated his late wife and their three grown-up children. While the crackdown on other members of the Husein-led group continues, we can only hope that the police immediately locate Husein’s three teenage children, so as to save them from further exposure of radical teachings.

The blasts in Sibolga and a series of arrests preceding and succeeding them should send a clear warning that terrorists remain in our midst and are waiting for the right time to strike. Though they may not necessarily have plans to disrupt next month’s general election, it is important to remain vigilant to prevent possible terror attacks.

Stopping terror requires that we resist the nation’s growing intolerance that is being exploited for political purposes, defying the core values of our diverse nation. It is not an exaggeration to say that the family plays a key role in planting the seeds of tolerance in the minds of children at an early age.