Led astray on the internet

Although the internet can be a powerful tool for learning about Islam, it can also pose dangers as extremists use the web to circulate their distorted version of the Prophet's teachings.

By Andhika Bhakti for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

November 09, 2013
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The internet – along with Indonesia's prisons – has become a key vehicle for recruiting terrorists, speakers told a recent forum in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.

  • Terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail speaks on counterterrorism August 27th at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. He says many factors are at play in terrorist recruitment: friendship, kinship, discipleship, worship and social media. [Yogi/Khabar]

    Terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail speaks on counterterrorism August 27th at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. He says many factors are at play in terrorist recruitment: friendship, kinship, discipleship, worship and social media. [Yogi/Khabar]

Curious individuals "are subjected to doctrine indirectly" on websites terrorists use to spread their beliefs, National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) Deputy of Prevention, Protection, and Deradicalisation Agus Surya Bakti told the October 30th forum for local journalists.

Teachings on the internet can become doctrine simply if anyone else chooses to agree, he warned.

The BNPT is working with the Ministry of Communication and Informatics to close websites that preach hardline views, which are currently plentiful and easy to access, Agus added, according to Viva News.

Former Jemaah Islamiyah and Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) member Abdul Rahman Ayub agreed that the internet is a potent tool for radicals to sow hatred toward the Indonesian state.

"They regard Indonesia as an infidel state, all of whose property and wealth can be taken," he said, including through robbery used to fund further recruiting and purchase weapons, he told the forum.

"I know, because I used to be like them. Their actions aren't in accordance with Islam's true laws. That's why I repented," he said, according to Viva News.

Prison is also ripe recruiting grounds for terrorists, Rahman Ayub added. Convicted terrorists teach Qur'an recitation to minor criminals and then groom their students to be suicide bombers.

"By going to several jails, I have direct experience of seeing that terrorists continue to recruit new members that they met and trained in jail," Antara quoted Rahman Ayub as saying. "Mostly the prisoners invited are those who are frustrated by the authorities.

"They start with chanting. With just a little grooming, they become terrorists," he said.

Misinformation about Islam

These days, most terrorist acts are carried out by youthful recruits, according to Noor Huda Ismail, the onetime Darul Islam member who now directs the Jakarta-based Institute for International Peace Building, which he founded.

Indonesia is facing a major challenge in finding ways to combat such misinformed foes, he said.

"They do not know the purpose of the violence, and more importantly they do not know what jihad is," Noor Huda told Khabar Southeast Asia on November 2nd.

Many factors are at play in the recruitment of new jihadists, he said, including friendship, kinship, discipleship, worship, and technology, including social media.

He argued that most young radicals no longer seek guidance from Indonesian institutions such as Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), but instead try to find their own way through technologies such as YouTube.

"The technology has allowed the young radicals to have direct access to militant Jihadists, including the most radical such as Al Maqsidi and Anwar Al-Awlaki and many other prominent radicals from all over the place," he added.

Internet can be a vehicle for knowledge

The internet can be a powerful tool for learning about religion, Jakarta resident Muhammad Matory, 59, commented to Khabar. No longer does one have to travel to find a teacher.

"I studied in Egypt long ago, and now with the internet I can track everything including various Islamic teachings that are popular recently," he told Khabar. But this has a negative side as well.

"I am sure it will be very easy for our teens to access this as well. Like it or not, the internet has contributed to the growth of radicalism in Indonesia." Muhammad urged controls over youth internet access and said the government needs to be aware of how radical websites are used.

Syarifudin, an Islamic cleric in Tangerang, West Java, said people are not wrong for wanting to learn about Islam via the internet. It is terrorists who provide the wrong teachings.

"We are opposed to those who use Islam to kill others," Syarifudin said. "We are also opposed to the thought that jihad can be conducted by killing people."

Reader Comments
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    • Djamil
      January 29, 2014 @ 01:01:34PM
    • True Jihad follows the way of Allah. A Jihad should be one that imparts wisdom unto others, not a Jihad that kills fellow Muslims. Allah and the Prophet do not teach their people to kill unless there are those who would wage war on Islam.
    • syafrullah
      December 7, 2013 @ 10:12:41AM
    • This might be the pot calling the kettle black.
    • sandria
      December 3, 2013 @ 11:12:27AM
    • This is why, people of the younger generation, when you come across information that seems to differ among society, you must undertake due diligence.
    • mohd kamal
      December 2, 2013 @ 04:12:29PM
    • Look for clerics who truly understand the Islamic religion.
    • zainal pedro
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:11:08PM
    • I strongly agree, do not wait until 2019, do this as soon as possible.
    • adib
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:11:24PM
    • It is better if from childhood, children are exposed to moderate Islam so that it becomes a foundation on the way they think in the future. Teenagers and society should be given skill-based courses in order to develop a moderate paradigm. Sometimes a teenager will get involved in terrorism out of economic desperation, exacerbated by narrow minded thinking and the need to blame certain parties. Wallahualam.
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:11:08AM
    • Isn't it Islam who teaches people to raise the sword to kill/jihad?
    • Black Inlander
      November 26, 2013 @ 07:11:04AM
    • An empty barrel makes the most noise.
    • afifah rafa nida
      November 26, 2013 @ 07:11:19AM
    • Good, I agree.
    • budi suprayogi
      November 26, 2013 @ 04:11:56AM
    • Seeking knowledge is the main duty of Muslims, from cradle to the grave, it should never cease, especially knowledge that would be beneficial in the afterlife.
    • yuhawati
      November 26, 2013 @ 01:11:38AM
    • Yes.
    • syawal
      November 25, 2013 @ 11:11:46PM
    • The most accurate Islamic teachings can only be found in the Qur'an, not the internet, boss.
    • tns blora
      November 25, 2013 @ 09:11:07PM
    • To expand one's horizon.
    • janu Snd
      November 25, 2013 @ 09:11:45PM
    • Correct, sometimes they have seemingly Islamic named websites, like VOA Islam, but the content is evil teachings that pit people against each other.
    • risma lee yun-ae
      November 22, 2013 @ 11:11:44PM
    • i liked that

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