The recent death in Iraq of an Indonesian allegedly there to wage holy war, is another example of a young life thrown away, Indonesians say.
Wildan Mukhollad bin Lasmin, a 19-year-old from Lamongan, East Java, was reported killed in Iraq in February after travelling there and to neighbouring Syria to take up the jihadist cause. The exact cause of his death was not reported.
"As a mother, I want to see more of our youth go abroad, study hard in school, and get a good degree and a good job. To see them go to war is very saddening," Sumiati, a 47-year-old resident of Wildan's hometown, told Khabar Southeast Asia, when asked to comment about the report.
"We can do jihad in Islam in a different way than war," she said.
Who was Wildan?
Wildan studied at Lamongan's Al Islam boarding school for three years, according to Noor Huda Ismail, executive director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Peace Building.
"After graduating from Al Islam, Wildan joined his brother who was studying at Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. In Cairo, Wildan was able to get connected with the Iraqi jihad movement," Noor Huda told Khabar by phone.
Wildan reportedly signed up with the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and fought against Syrian government forces in Aleppo before crossing into Iraq, the Jakarta globe reported on February 20th.
While at school in Lamongan, Wildan studied under Ali Fauzi, an instructor, former militant and the younger brother of 2002 Bali bombers Amrozi and Ali Ghufron.
"I didn't know that he decided to leave the country and head to Syria to become a suicide bomber," Ali, who says he has renounced radicalism, told Khabar. "He disappeared nearly a year ago."
Level of Indonesia jihadist involvement
Details remain sketchy about just how many Indonesians are fighting in Syria and Iraq.
In February, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated some 50 Indonesian jihadists were in Syria.
In response to a question of how many Indonesians were travelling to Syria to join foreign fighters and extremist groups in the region, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told a February 17th news conference in Jakarta there was "no way of verifying the data".
"I have been hearing– we have been hearing-- information or suggestions that there are some who have gone to Syria to be involved in the conflict. Obviously, it's not something that we condone. Our message to them is not to involve themselves in such activities and that they must return back," Marty said, according to a transcript.