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Geopolitics

Indonesia 'Deradicalization': Turning Terrorists Into Business Owners

Outside home of suspect in June's terror attack on North Sumatra Police Headquarters
Outside home of suspect in June's terror attack on North Sumatra Police Headquarters
Giacomo Tognini

JAKARTA — While Western countries grapple with the question of what to do with militants returning after fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Indonesia has launched a deradicalization program that helps former fighters open their own businesses, according to the Indonesian magazine Tempo.

The program aims to help returning militants and their families, including those who are not themselves terror suspects, become financially independent and reintegrate into society. It was launched by Indonesia's National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) in collaboration with 32 ministries and institutions.

"If they want to learn sewing, they will be sent to tailor shops. If they want to open an online shop selling clothes, they will be coached," BNPT deradicalization director Irfan Idris told Tempo. "They will no longer have to go abroad to commit terrorist acts if the country is taking care of them."

The agency has provided deradicalization training for a 600 militants in the program. A recent group included 15 returning Indonesian citizens, several of whom had spent time in Raqqa, the Islamic State's former capital in Syria.

In June, the BNPT began requiring all Indonesians returning from Syria to enroll in the de-radicalization program. The training includes attending one month of sermons by Muslim religious scholars to counter the Islamic State's ideology, according to Indonesian daily The Jakarta Post.

"The Indonesian government helped us come home," said Nur, a woman who attended the entrepreneurship training. "We will be able to open a business, we can seize this second chance to live normally."

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