03 August 2018 By Publikasi IIS

Family and Government Play a Pivotal Role in Indonesian Jihadists Disengagement

Family and Government Play a Pivotal Role in Indonesian Jihadists Disengagement

A humane approach needs to be put forward in handling terror acts in Indonesia —both in preventive and post-terror stages— considering how violence actually motivates jihadists to commit a bigger act of terror.

To explain the approach mentioned above, Center for Security and Peace Studies (PSKP) along with Institute of International Studies (IIS) UGM invited Julie Chernov Hwang—author of Why Terrorists Quit: The Disengagement of Indonesian Jihadist— to discuss her book (3/8). Julie, who is also an Associate Professor at Goucher College (United States), tells stories of five former jihadists who has quit from the movement.

“Of the 33 cases I’ve studied, I noticed that family and government have played a crucial role in disengagement,” said Julie during discussion session in BA 101, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM.

Family could influence jihadist or its sympathizers to change their behavior and ideas from radical values. This is shown by the case of one former member of Jama’ah Islamiyah who surrendered himself to police by the support and influence from his mother.

Several cases also showed same tendencies; such as birth of a child, moral support given while being imprisoned, and close relations with new friends. All of these factors pushed jihadist to disengage themselves from circle of violence.

Furthermore, family opens ways for former jihadist to reintegrate to society. Even so, government’s bearing and policy will strongly influence the success of disengagement.

“Government needs to provide life skill training and open jobs for former jihadists to continue their lives. But, beforehand, government also needs to humanize prisoners,” explained Julie. “Don’t let them feel upset from being treated inhumanely that it would make disengagement efforts be complicated,” she added.

When those efforts have worked hand in hand, it needs to be taken into account that such efforts would not succeed in a short time. Just as like how radicalization process occurred gradually, it also needs time for jihadist and its sympathizers to change their mindset.

Najib Azca—Director of PSKP UGM—stated that Julie’s book is an remarkable achievement.

As a female researcher, Julie is able to step into man’s world and retrieve primary data, which are very hard to be accessed. Such research would not be possible if the researcher could not gain trust from her informants,” explained Najib Azca during discussion session.

Julie’s book, which has been published in 2018, has contributed to the formulation of pattern in disengagement process. She succeeded in covering cultural and emotional aspects which often being dismissed by social and political researches.


Writer: Imas Indra Hapsari
Editor: Nurhawira Gigih Pramono
Translator: Sonya Teresa