Indonesian authorities have started transferring 170 hard-core convicted terrorists from prisons nationwide to a state-of-the-art facility in West Java.
Their transfer from 27 penitentiaries to the Peace and Security Centre (IPSC) in Sentul, Bogor, began July 7th, officials said.
The convicts were being sent there for immersion in a de-radicalisation programme that strives to rehabilitate them for re-entry into society upon their release.
The Rp 1.64 trillion ($144.2m) centre opened in early April. It houses seven different facilities, including a Peacekeeping Mission Centre and a Counterterrorism Training and De-radicalisation Centre.
"This facility's aim is to help them return to society but also to prevent the spread of radicalism among inmates while they are serving their prison sentence," Justice and Human Rights minister Amir Syamsuddin told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"We have learned that by placing terrorists in regular prisons, they have a greater opportunity to spread their influences, not only among inmates but also officers. By moving them into our special facility in Sentul, they all will be subject to the de-radicalisation programme," he added.
The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) runs the programme. The agency is looking to transfer a total of 280 incarcerated terrorists to Sentul but the facility can only hold 170 inmates, so authorities will need to give priority to the most hard-core convicts, BNPT Chief Ansyaad Mbai said.
"De-radicalisation is a slow process, but we hope we can see results in a few years to come," he told Khabar.
The 170 convicts immersed in the programme will interact with former terrorists from other countries, who have successfully abandoned terrorism and returned to society. These ex-terrorists will counsel the convicts, helping them make the transition toward renouncing the terrorist's way of life.
"These clerics will share their experience and why they decided to leave terrorism," Ansyaad said.
Yet the government's de-radicalisation programme has its limits, commented terrorism expert Al Chaidar , himself a former radical and ex-member of the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII).
"This is a good idea, a new hope to build a de-radicalisation centre, especially to help them transition before returning to society. The government also faces huge challenges with this programme. After placing them in the programme, what next?" he said.