Empowering Indonesian Communities for Effective Reintegration of Terrorists and Their Families

The late Rosyid Nurul Hakiim (in red) in a meeting with his Kreasi Prasasti Perdamaian team. 

Article provided by Kreasi Prasasti Perdamaian, the latest partner of stratsea.com.


Of the 825 Indonesian terrorist convicts released since 2002 to 2020, 94 (11.4%) continued their pursuit of violence. This is disturbing considering the hundreds of terrorist convicts that were released in 2021 alone. This raises three pertinent questions: 1) What is the role of the Indonesian communities in preventing terrorist recidivism amidst the COVID-19 pandemic? 2) How do we empower former terrorists to be part of the solution? 3) How does gender factor in the reintegration of released male and female terrorists back to society?

Amplifying Community Voices for Peace

Established in 2018, ruangobrol.id, a composition of Indonesian words meaning chat room, embarked on a pilot project to empower individuals of diverse backgrounds. These individuals entail a former journalist, former terrorists and “hyper local” community leaders including the heads of neighbourhoods (RT), the heads of the communities (RW) and the heads of villages and sub-districts. The key aim of banding these individuals is to prevent recidivism in Central and East Java.

Noteworthily, these individuals are synergistic in amplifying their voices. The former terrorists involved in this project provide credible voices in challenging narratives promulgated by violent extremist groups in Indonesia. They are also important in 1) increasing knowledge on radicalism and terrorism in the community and 2) empowering communities with necessary skills to communicate effectively with released terrorist inmates and to help them with their reintegration. The former journalist who is now a full-time editor at ruangobrol.id plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality of contents by contributors such as the former terrorists while ensuring the relevancy of their messages for the community. Meanwhile, the community leaders are key to facilitating these messages in reaching their communities.

Emphasis on Informal Communications, Gender and Systemic Change

This project emphasizes on three key factors: the power of informal communications, gender considerations in reintegration and eliciting systemic change within the communities.

From this project, informal communications particularly by the community leaders were significant in reintegration. Through informal communications, more candid, open sharing were facilitated enabling the development of customized approaches for each released terrorist and their families. For example, to prepare for their husbands eventual release from prison, the women in the community would approach the wives of these imprisoned terrorists through house visits. In such informal visits, trust is gained with the wives eventually embracing their places in the community and being receptive to employment in businesses run by the community.

This example is encouraging as the wives and children tend to receive limited assistance and supervision by the authorities while their husbands are incarcerated. Many of these women would continue to be actively engaged in violent extremist ideologies imparted by their husbands. These women and their children are, thus, vulnerable to being approach by violent extremist groups. Sensing their vulnerabilities, these groups often provide financial assistance to them and facilitate their visits to prisons. Therefore, efforts to redirect the strong connections and dependency of these families with violent extremist groups to their communities can ease the reintegration of their husbands upon their release. Not only would these husbands themselves give up their connections with their former groups, their families and communities provide a strong support network to help them give up their pursuit of violence.

As implied above, considerations to gender are important for reintegration. In this project, men and women were found to be primed for different roles during their radicalization. Men were expected to be physically involved in violence while women were to remain subservient to their husbands and support their violent agendas. By playing such roles would they then be deemed to be pious. Therefore, in such circumstances, it is important to tailor reintegration efforts to each gender. In this project, women including youths are deeply involved in all areas of community engagement. This will help them wanting to become contributing members of their communities while developing themselves to become more independent from their husbands.

Lastly, the project aims to trigger a systemic change in addition to individual change. This is achieved by leveraging on counter narratives both online and offline for wider outreach. Though the Indonesian authorities have developed numerous counternarrative programmes, unfortunately, these programmes seem to gain limited traction with at-risk groups. Ostensibly, these programmes are perceived as government propaganda. This is where this project can fill the gap. Not only would stories of community engagements be posted on the website and social media accounts, but a module on community engagements has also been developed. This entails a manual to help communities engaged with at-risk communities and a documentary film entitled “The Mentors.” This film provides learning points through its documentation of the implementation of the pilot project which included the participation of Central Java’s governor, Ganjar Pranowo.

Need for Information Sharing and Collaborations Between CSOs

Challenges to an effective reintegration as well as other terrorism-related issues are not unique to Indonesia. Fortunately, Southeast Asian countries have transited to a Whole-of-Society approach (WOS) albeit at varying degrees. Nevertheless, the roles of the community and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are crucial in this transition away from government-driven initiatives. It is, therefore, important to foster information sharing between CSOs in SEA.

By partnering with stratsea.com, ruangobrol.id which is managed by Kreasi Prasasti Perdamaian, intends to share lessons learnt from its projects to CSOs within SEA starting with this pilot project. Such information sharing is also intended to encourage project collaborations between CSOs not only in a country but also the region.


As highlighted in this pilot project, reintegration requires the involvement of numerous stakeholders including the community particularly when government-driven initiatives can be met with scepticism. Therefore, CSOs in Indonesia and the region play a crucial role in being conduit between government and the community and initiating more ground-up initiatives. It is also important for CSOs to not only coordinate their efforts but also collaborate more openly among themselves. Doing so can help pool resources to develop effective programmes for the community and help provide crucial insights to the government for their policymaking from lessons learnt in these programmes.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Licence. Republications minimally require 1) credit authors and their institutions, and 2) credit to STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD  and include a link back to either our home page or the article URL.


  • Rosyid Nurul Hakiim was a co-founder of Kreasi Prasasti Perdamaian (KPP). He was an avid activist striving to instil peace in Indonesia. His strong determination inspired and will continue to inspire the team in KPP. This article was his last writing prior to his return to Allah SWT.

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