Root Them Out

At a conference in Bali, the government said the ongoing scourge of terrorism, not only in this country but around the world, needs other solutions in addition to tough security. Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto was correct in his assertion but what the government in this country continues to overlook are the visible breeding grounds for militancy.

These include the Islamic boarding schools that dot parts of Java, notably the central province, where malleable young minds are indoctrinated into hatred of Western nations and may be recruited for strikes against their interests.

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, in prison for terrorism, has one such school in Central Java, the Al-Mukmin boarding school in Ngruki where it is alleged students and acolytes were recruited for terrorism. This supposed academic institute of learning which is tainted by terrorism is only one of many in the densely populated, Muslim-majority island of Java. So monitor them intensively, and if suspicions of militant activity are confirmed take measures to shut them down. Terrorists must be rooted out wherever they are and must not be shielded by schools or places of worship.

The government now says that along with battling terrorism with security forces, a “soft approach” is being taken that includes education and de-radicalisation. That’s fine, but even if hardiners are properly informed about the ills of terrorism and forced to become moderate, once they return to militant-minded hometown environments, such instruction can be easily forgotten.

Indonesia, in cooperation with foreign security forces, has had ample success in hunting down terrorists in recent years, but the threat is ever-present. It will fester and grow until the roots are snapped off. It may be impossible to completely eliminate the threat, but as long as there’s the relatively easy opportunity to shutter public places of radical brainwashing, it’s at least minimised.

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