Indonesians discuss ways to save youths from jihadist wars

The recent death of a 19-year-old from Lamongan, East Java in Iraq left Indonesians asking what can be done to prevent other youths from dying for jihad.

By Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata and Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

March 28, 2014
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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.

  • Fighters with the jihadist Al-Nusra Front stand atop a pick-up truck mounted with a machine gun during fighting in Aziza, Syria, on April 4th, 2013. More than 55 Indonesian jihadists died in the Syrian civil war between 2011 and mid-2013, one expert claims. [Guillaume Briquet/AFP]

    Fighters with the jihadist Al-Nusra Front stand atop a pick-up truck mounted with a machine gun during fighting in Aziza, Syria, on April 4th, 2013. More than 55 Indonesian jihadists died in the Syrian civil war between 2011 and mid-2013, one expert claims. [Guillaume Briquet/AFP]

"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.

Reader Comments
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    • Aulia
      June 26, 2014 @ 03:06:02AM
    • It's all well and good for the poster of the opinion above because they still have a future but it is not so good for people who don't have a future, those from poor families, the ones driven into madness and despair by unemployment, etc. Rather than becoming garbage in our own country, we should help each other by being useful in countries that need help.
    • herbas
      April 13, 2014 @ 09:04:28AM
    • Do not let your hatred for something cause you to act unfairly, blog.
    • dmrHT
      April 12, 2014 @ 07:04:11PM
    • The victor becomes charcoal, the loser becomes ash, that is the outcome of war. Better to fight against poverty, ignorance, and famine. Come on, let us plant rice for tomorrow's breakfast. Why do you love war? Peace is better, boss.
    • asamson
      April 12, 2014 @ 10:04:22AM
    • What needs to be saved are the youths and elderly who have been led astray from valuable cultures to the Western culture whether they realize it or not. They have been brainwashed by the westerners and/or the US from kindergarten age by their teachers up to their Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral education, through their professors. This is because the books they study are translations from western books. They study these books without consideration to apply their highly regarded noble cultures. What we have over the westerners is the fact that we have intelligence of he mind and the heart (we can tell good from bad or in between) whereas the westerners only have intelligence of the mind and do not have intelligent hearts. The proof is that the behavior of westerners is worse than animals and they are reckless and shameless. They hang about and horse around in the streets and everywhere which is really crossing the line for people who have brains. They are truly animals and yet they are able to invade the fields of riches of real humans. Remember, westerners are able to master technology because the books they study are taken from the Islamic scholars during the crusades.
    • mulyadin achmad
      April 11, 2014 @ 10:04:47AM
    • If you do not understand jihad then don't comment. The true meaning of jihad is to go to war so do not make the assumption that they are mistaken or wrong; it might be that they are noble people who have received guidance at His side. We cannot necessarily say that we, at this time, possess the courage of our brothers who are brave enough to go to war over there. Their sincere purpose is to help religion, only Allah SWT knows.
    • semprul masbuloh
      April 11, 2014 @ 08:04:43AM
    • I completely agree to reduce the number of Indonesians useless to the country and nation. Leave jihad for the less educated, those who lack perspective on religion, lack of knowledge and are shallow minded. You do not know the meaning of peace. The point is that all religions teach goodness and peace and if you retaliate with violence it means that you have no clue what religious teaching is for.
    • April 11, 2014 @ 06:04:18AM
    • Allahuakbar allahuakbar allahuakbar. It is better to go to war for اَللّهُ than to have fun at the expense of others. Islam is one and does not differentiate one country from another. War in defense of truth is the only jihad there is.
    • c
      April 11, 2014 @ 12:04:13AM
    • The most noble death for a Muslim is to be a martyr upholding Allah's religion and nothing is sweeter than that. What do you know about jihad? How can you say that seeking knowledge and all those things count as jihad when there are more important things like war on the path of Allah for those who are able. If you feel incapable then you should just sit and pray, that is faith at its weakest. You only hear and know from the media so you cannot understand! Don't bother arguing.
    • soneta
      April 8, 2014 @ 02:04:26AM
    • They go there to defend Islam! Reject the Shia!
    • agus
      April 7, 2014 @ 11:04:12PM
    • Only stupid people go there for jihad. It is a futile jihad. If you don't know the meaning of jihad don't make assertions that jihad is righteous. The right jihad is a war on your own desires, that is the true jihad fisabillah. If there is jihad after the final war of Prophet Muhammad SAW, that is not jihad (dying in vain). Jihad is about knowledge, not taking up arms.
    • hendra
      April 6, 2014 @ 04:04:01AM
    • Do not talk to us, the people who want to carry out jihad for Allah's religion, but ask the government officials who do not have the courage to use Allah's laws.
    • sukamto
      April 5, 2014 @ 04:04:04AM
    • Whoever carries out Allah's commands correctly, God willing they will be granted paradise. If you ask why the struggle is so bitter, the answer is because paradise is so sweet. Let us cry, be hurt and disappointed rather than die without struggle because we would not be able to bear the curse of hell fire.
    • Hamba Allah
      April 4, 2014 @ 10:04:20PM
    • Fellow Muslims are brothers, war is being waged on our brothers by the enemies of Islam. Muslims can be considered as being of one body.
    • iliyassa al madinah
      April 4, 2014 @ 10:04:03AM
    • That is good, war is best. Only stupid Muslims refuse to go to war. The author of this article has no religion, writing anything they want. They carry out jihad for a reason, they have a book called the Al-Quran. What do you believe in? It is natural that Muslims go to war, it is commanded in the Al-Quran and it is to defend Islam. Stupid people and infidels fear death and have no faith, all they do is seek out what feels good. Cultivating stupidity.
    • pedhetmencret
      April 11, 2014 @ 10:04:52AM
    • That is good, war is the best way, Only stupid Muslims are unwilling to go to war. The writer of the article has no religion. They carry out jihad because they have a reason, they have a holy book: the Al-Quran. What do you believe in? It is natural for Muslims to go to war, it is commanded in the Al-Quran, and to defend Islam. They're not stupid people and infidels who are afraid of dying and have no faith. You only seek pleasures and stubborn in your stupidity. Then what are you still doing here? Isn't jihad the best way?
    • rramadhan
      April 4, 2014 @ 07:04:54AM
    • You are being paranoid. Jihad belongs to Muslims. There is no need for you to get involved if you don't understand. Thank you.
    • Arief
      April 3, 2014 @ 11:04:09AM
    • That is your problem.
    • ahmad
      April 2, 2014 @ 09:04:07AM
    • The clerics in Indonesia are political clerics and corrupt clerics. Therefore, they forbid defending our brothers of the same religion.
    • asamson
      April 1, 2014 @ 06:04:01AM
    • Many people have succumbed to the "wahan" sickness, that is the love of riches and the fear of death. This is because they are surrounded by such pleasures that it would be a shame to give them up such as beautiful power that did not come from Allah and the many sensual women who are not their wives, etc.
    • cahyati
      April 1, 2014 @ 03:04:39AM
    • I agree, the government should start getting involved before this goes any further. Also, we need to remember that jihad is not only carried out on the battlefield but also through the pursuit of knowledge. However, we rarely hear those words, hardly even whispers. I implore teachers, clerics and all those who hold an interest to light a fire within the hearts our youths to pursue the highest knowledge so that our young people don't become maids in someone else's country.
    • Kang Api
      April 1, 2014 @ 03:04:06AM
    • Allah, persuade young people to jihad on your path. Do not take away the spirit of Islamic youth. Let us jihad together overseas, do not hesitate!
    • anonymous137
      April 8, 2014 @ 07:04:26AM
    • Jesus nonsense. You like naked people, don't you? Ha ha ha.
    • damarHT
      April 12, 2014 @ 07:04:20PM
    • Read Al an nam, abide by it and do the 108.
    • deddy djumardi
      March 31, 2014 @ 12:03:00AM
    • What we worry about the most are the jihadists returning to the homeland who may cultivate terrorist groups within the country.
    • Itonk
      April 4, 2014 @ 02:04:25AM
    • You think you know everything. What are you, a shaman?
    • Agus Salim,
      March 28, 2014 @ 10:03:35AM
    • Because through education of jihad fi sabillilah the faithful will unite. Do not defend laws that are made by men, but rather those of religion and the laws of Allah, something that needs to be enforced on this Earth.
    • esa putra
      March 28, 2014 @ 05:03:52AM
    • If suggestions, criticisms and demonstrations continue to go unheeded, weapons will be raised to stop the cruelty. Righteousness will prevail, insya Allah.
    • March 27, 2014 @ 10:03:51PM
    • This would be good for reducing the population of Indonesia.

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