After an East Javanese jihadist died in Iraq last month, Indonesians are debating how to stop more young countrymen from risking their lives in the Middle East.
"Islamic leaders must devote more of an effort to educating youths with a comprehensive knowledge of jihad and tolerance," said Ahmad Khalid, a 23-year-old student at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"Second, the Indonesian government must also play an important role in promoting education and reviewing immigration fraud through law enforcement. Lastly, Indonesian government must also focus on a prevention programme before someone is radicalised," Ahmad said.
University of Indonesia counter-terrorism and intelligence expert Wawan Purwanto estimates that between 2011 and mid-2013, at least 55 Indonesians died in the Syrian civil war and a handful more in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.
"It is purely out of their own convictions that they are waging jihad in Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Afghanistan. It is about fighting against what they consider to be an atrocious regime, and they want to defend those who suffer from the atrocity," Wawan told Khabar.
"Rethink joining the caravan"
Jakarta-based cleric Muhammad Agus Fatwa meanwhile, suggested Muslims should rethink the call to "join the caravan", the title of a widely cited jihadist tract arguing Muslims worldwide form one community and one land.
"Maybe we should rethink joining the caravan. I know there are many reasons for people to go to jihad, but there are many interpretations of jihad," he said, commenting on why young men leave peaceful countries such as Indonesia for war zones in foreign lands.
"One should understand that Islam in the Middle East and in Indonesia have different dynamics," Agus told Khabar. "Islam has been embedded and accepted very well in Indonesian culture. We have been living in a peaceful co-existence with other religions. Please continue this harmony," he said.
Hard to trace
The Indonesian government has not released information on how many citizens are fighting in Syria and other Middle Eastern hotspots. In February, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Khabar some 50 Indonesian jihadists were believed to be fighting in Syria.
It is hard to trace the movements of suspected jihadists throughout the Middle East, according to National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Ansyaad Mbai.
"We can't map out who is going where," he said of Indonesian militants venturing abroad. "All their movements are underground."
Complicating matters is that many Indonesians travel to the Middle East on religious pilgrimages or humanitarian missions, Ansyaad told Khabar.
"We can't prevent them from going [for such reasons]", yet tightening emigration controls at Indonesian airports and other departure points could be one way to prevent home-grown militants from going abroad, he said.
"But to impose that depends entirely on our laws, and I think our laws are still too lax to enforce such scrutiny," Ansyaad said, adding that imposing such restrictions could also backfire and open the government to accusations of rights violations of individuals.