Immortality via News Media? A Case Study of Former Terrorism Inmates in Indonesia

Can news media in Indonesia confer “immortality” to Indonesians convicted of terrorism? Credit: Dreamstime/Jovani Carlo Gorospe


It has been argued that news media and terrorism have a symbiotic relationship but what impact does this relationship have on terrorism perpetrators?[1] More specifically, can it help these perpetrators attain a sense of immortality as described in Terror Management Theory (TMT)? The benefit of employing this theory, developed by Greenberg, Pyszczynski and Solomon, is that terrorists can attain immortality not only via extremist ideology such as the belief of afterlife rewards but also via means that can assist them to be remembered after their death.[2] With the current ease of accessing news which is seemingly everlasting on the internet, it may prove useful to gain a better understanding of news media role in the radicalization process. Additionally, by conducting this study in Muslim-majority Indonesia that is also affected by religiously inspired terrorism, it may provide unique insights on how Eastern news media is perceived by such terrorists. Previously, Western news media were regularly associated with facilitating the perception that Muslims were being persecuted via unfair and bias reporting.[3]

By involving former terrorism inmates in this study, insights on whether these participants remain deradicalized or disengaged several years after their release from prison can be garnered from their current views of news media. Both deradicalization and disengagement are commonly cited themes in counterterrorism research. Ascertaining whether these former inmates remain deradicalized or disengaged can provide an indication of how successful they have reintegrated back into their communities. Therefore, this study sought to answer the following questions: (1) What are the perceptions and experiences of former Indonesian terrorism inmates with news media both during incarceration and after their release? (2) Could news media provide an outlet for terrorism perpetrators to seek immortality? (3) How well-adjusted are these former inmates several years after their release from prison? To answer these questions, life stories from two former Indonesian religiously inspired terrorists were analyzed. In the next few sections, several key concepts that guide our analysis are discussed.

Immortality and Terror Management Theory

Terrorism, through the lens of TMT, is viewed as a rational choice.[4] Such rationality is demonstrated when people’s behaviors are motivated by the need to assuage anxiety and fear of their eventual demise. By holding onto a cultural worldview such as that provided by terrorist organizations, they can not only live a life of meaning but also the promise of transcending death.[5] Terrorist organizations offer their members both meaningful rewards (for example, the opportunity to attain hero status) and the potential to attain vicarious immortality.[6] Attaining such rewards, however, comes at a price. Members are required to undertake physical risks including sacrificing their freedom and their lives. This has led McBride to posit an existential-terroristic feedback loop in which individuals who identify with radicalized terrorist ideology commit legitimized acts of violence.[7] Participating in such acts of terrorism would eventually increase existential anxiety and thus reinforcing their belief of the radical ideology.

Immortality, as described by TMT, entails two forms: symbolic and literal. Literal immortality is conferred through the belief that by attaining martyrdom, they will be delivered the promise of an afterlife in heaven. Symbolic immortality, on the other hand, entails more diverse forms and thus, can be attained through far more numerous means. Examples of symbolic immortality includes being remembered by others after one’s death, as extensions of the self through children or lasting achievements, and contributing to something that outlives the self.[8] From this perspective, it may seem that news media can serve as biographies and obituaries for terrorism perpetrators, surpassing generations. Consequently, news media may unconsciously facilitate terrorists to attain symbolic immortality through their reporting.[9] However, these perpetrators could be portrayed negatively by news media, counter to their cultural worldview, and may thus not be perceived as a platform to attain symbolic immortality. Such complexity is elaborated in the next section discussing the relationship between terrorism and news media.

A Symbiotic Relationship between Terrorism and News Media

The symbiotic relationship between terrorism and news media have been demonstrated based on studies focusing on domestic and international media.[10] Academics agreeing with this notion opined that without news media, terrorism would have limited effects and that news rely on terrorism coverage due to its high news value.[11] Such high value news are constantly in demand by news media as they are competitive and lucrative businesses obsessed with grabbing the attention of viewers.[12] In addition to satiating public interest, news media are required “to report all major events to ensure their continued legitimacy and credibility as a truthful or free press.”[13] For state-owned news media, such news present an opportunity to create an illusion of heightened danger to drive and justify state policies.[14] Collectively, these highlight the importance of language manipulation and framing in conveying a message and influencing viewer’s opinions.

There are several means of influencing opinions in news media. First, the title of news contents sets the tone for the direction of influence.[15] Next is the naming conventions used in news media to refer to these perpetrators. The use of terms such as “terrorist”, “insurgent” and “activist” imbue different emotions in readers.[16] The selection of the terms employed by news media is generally a reflection of their biasness.[17] The third method of influence is for news media to focus on the amount of people who lost their lives to terrorism.[18] By increasingly focusing on these numbers, it could increase one’s thoughts of death and consequently influence related behaviors. A final method is how the act of terrorism is portrayed by the media. This would include the tendency to focus on a terrorist organization’s barbarism via publishing graphic images, amplifying the true implications of terrorist events, and manufacturing stereotypes and negative associations.[19] Interestingly, the lack of coverage of news that depict Muslim suffering in Western media, for example, can reinforce reader’s notion of Western hypocrisy being present.[20]

It is, thus, evident how news media can polarize their readers’ opinions. At one end of the spectrum, xenophobia and Islamophobia can be encouraged in readers, fueling the need for government policy changes and, unfortunately, conducting revenge attacks on whom they perceived to be associated with terrorism.[21] On the other end of the spectrum, not only does it assist in the formation of identities shaped by the wars in the Middle East, for example, it also encourages the internalizing of suffering and humiliation endured by those whom the readers identify with (for example the persecution of Muslims in any part of the world).[22] Additionally, it encourages the belief of a global plot to eradicate their group.[23] Such negativity, as discovered from numerous focus group discussions with the general public, has directed readers to seek alternate news media perceived by them to be more balanced and fair.[24] Unfortunately, this leaves such readers open to being exposed to online contents developed by terrorist organizations.

News media, in the eyes of terrorists, is a crucial and effective weapon.[25] Understanding the magnitude of influence news media can exert, terrorist organizations have opted for attacks that will appear on the “silver screen.”[26] Also known as the “theater of terror” in numerous studies, opting for such high news value attacks serve multiple purposes.[27] The first is to spread public fear and the threat of future attacks. This is achieved by careful orchestration of such attacks to command attention and magnify their power beyond their actual capabilities.[28] The second is by instilling the perception that “anyone is welcome to try his hand at slicing off the head of Goliath with a paper cutter”, it encourages recruitment for these terrorist organizations.[29] Lastly, by attaining headline status, it provides these groups with the recognition that they are a legitimate threat, provides them with a perception of possessing power, and a sense of obtaining a major political achievement.[30] So, with all these benefits being conferred to terrorist organizations from their relationship with news media, what does it mean for the terrorists themselves? If terrorists also stand to gain from this relationship, how does it impact deradicalization or disengagement efforts?

Background of Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Indonesia

Indonesia’s democracy, since her independence, has regularly been threatened by Islamist elements seeking an upheaval of governance.[31] A notable terrorist organization that threatened Indonesia’s and her regional neighbors’ security was the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Founded in Indonesia before moving to Malaysia, this organization successfully conducted numerous bombings on businesses that were owned by the West and those that were deemed to be un-Islamic as demonstrated in both 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings.[32] This led to an estimated 800 arrests and 60 killed in ensuing counterterrorism operations in Indonesia by 2012.[33] The decline of JI enabled the spawning of numerous splinter organizations including the most recent terrorist threat; pro-Islamic State Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).[34]

This decline, seen as the fourth phase of JI’s evolution, stems from their shift from operational development and recruitment to dakwah (religious proselytization).[35] Members of JAD were responsible for a total of five separate suicide bombings conducted by three families including their children in Surabaya, Indonesia on 13 and 14 May 2018. Similarly, these triggered hundreds of suspected terrorists to be arrested. Terrorism inmates were previously incarcerated in prisons throughout Indonesia but recently there are efforts to centralize these inmates on a maximum-security island prison. While incarcerated, these inmates can opt to participate in deradicalization programs run by both the government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).

However, deradicalization efforts can be marred by two factors. The first is the difficulty in changing their worldview which confers them meaning in life and the promise of immortality as described in TMT.[36] Religious clerics, not only in Indonesia, employed to provide these inmates with an alternative religious thinking and ideology face an uphill task as they would first need to be deemed credible sources of religious information by these inmates. Unfortunately, these religious clerics can be deemed to be government lackeys thus tarnishing their credibility among terrorism inmates.  In addition to receiving remissions of their sentences from the Indonesian government, participation in deradicalization programs can further lead to an earlier release from prison. Unfortunately, an effective evaluation of these inmates not only has yet to be developed but is also not mandatory in Indonesia. Therefore, it is uncertain if these inmates are deradicalized, disengaged or worse, unchanged when released. In this article, “deradicalization” is defined as the ideological or cognitive shift such as the abandonment of the belief that violence is a privileged tool for political struggle while “disengagement is defined as a behavioral change such as refraining from violence or leaving a terrorist organization.[37]



Data for this study were derived from life history interviews with two former Indonesian terrorism inmates who did not hold leadership positions in their organizations. From a broader pool of research candidates, they were selected due to several factors. These factors were 1) both were members of JI, 2) the highest educational level that both attained were pre-tertiary education and both did not attend madrassahs while younger, 3) both were tried as adults for their participation in terrorism, 4) both were incarcerated within a year of each other, 5) they were incarcerated in the same prison in Jakarta, Indonesia (this is essential as it meant that they would both undergo similar deradicalization programs), 6) they were both handed similar prison sentences of 6 – 8 years, 7) both participated in deradicalization programs while in prison, and 8) both were released from prison in 2014 after receiving remissions. These criteria were developed to minimize variations in participants, providing an opportunity to evaluate the deradicalization programs they underwent. Though they both knew of each other, known from previous interviews and interactions with them since 2017, they were not informed of each other’s participation in this study and were instructed to not inform others of their participation in this study.

To preserve their identities, they were named Farhan and Taufiq, respectively. Both Farhan and Taufiq were married before their arrests. Farhan aged 44 years old at the time of the interview was a father of one while Taufiq aged 35 years old at the time of the interview was a father of two. Unlike Taufiq, Farhan had family members/relatives who were involved in terrorism and were members of JI. In the lead up to their participation in terrorism, both cited the persecutions of Muslims both in Indonesia and overseas as a cause for action. Both were exposed to narratives that required their direct participation in conflict from their membership to JI. These narratives served to motivate them to accept high risks associated with their participation with the promise of attaining afterlife rewards. Unlike some members of JI, both were not sent to Pakistan/Afghanistan for paramilitary training.

Currently, both Farhan and Taufiq claimed to be focused on their employment. Farhan is a dispatch rider while Taufiq is a property agent. With regards to Islamic activities, they have both admitted to leading religious classes while in prison. Their lessons included proselytizing and reciting the Quran to their small groups. Unfortunately, it cannot be ascertained if this included indoctrination of their organization’s ideology and thus, cannot be discounted. After their release, they have continued providing religious classes in their communities to support themselves financially. Due to a lack of interest, they have stopped such classes and sought other forms of employment. Both, however, have admitted to participating in what they perceived as Islamist demonstrations. This included those that resulted from a former Jakarta governor, a non-Muslim, being charged with having insulted Islam during the lead up to the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial elections.

Interview Procedure and Data Analysis

Prior to interviewing these participants, approval from University of Indonesia’s ethics committee and the participants’ informed consents were sought. For this study, Farhan and Taufiq each participated in one session of interview conducted in 2019 and within days of each other to limit the risk of them finding out about their participation in this study. Semi-structured interviews, which consisted of both broad and direct questions, with them were conducted in public settings such as restaurants and coffeeshops. Broad questions included certain phases of their lives such as their entry and involvement with terrorism while direct questions focused on them recounting their experiences with news media both during incarceration and after their release from prison, and their concerns as they attempt to re-integrate back into their communities. Interviews were conducted in Bahasa Indonesia and data was translated into English. Thematic analysis was subsequently conducted from the collected data.

Results and Discussion

Presence of Three Forms of News Media in Indonesia

Unlike most countries, Farhan and Taufiq opined that there were three forms of news media in Indonesia; namely 1) local/national news media, 2) international news media, and 3) Islamist news media. Both defined Islamist news media as those that were sympathetic towards Islamist causes. Such sympathy was evident to both Farhan and Taufiq from the more favorable language used and the intentions behind covering terrorism incidents. Interestingly, they considered publications from the two biggest Islamic mass organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, to be “grey.”[38] Despite these organizations championing Islam in Indonesia, both Farhan and Taufiq considered them to be pro-government. They believed that by adopting such stance, these organizations may produce articles that were not too favorable to terrorism perpetrators.

To date, both Farhan and Taufiq have been interviewed by all three news media. When comparing their time while incarcerated and after their release from prison, they recounted that not only was there a difference in frequency of them being interviewed by news media but also the types of news media interested in them. They described being more frequently interviewed after their release from prison than while incarcerated. During incarceration, news media expressed their interest in them mainly during their court hearings with an abrupt decline after their sentencing. The increased frequency in being interviewed could be due to an expansion of interview topics.  Prior to their release from prison, they were asked about their involvements in their terror attacks. This included their motives and the sentences awarded to them. Post-release, topics expanded to include their re-integration into their communities and opinions about terrorism incidents that were recently conducted. Additionally, while incarcerated, both were interviewed by all three news media. Upon their release from prison, such news media interview opportunities were limited to only local/national and international news media. Through interactions with their peers, they came to believe that former terrorism inmates will generally experience such varying frequency and interest from news media.

Varying Naming Conventions Applied across the Three News Media

Due to news media respective biases, Farhan and Taufiq recalled being referred to differently in both Islamist and non-Islamist news media (i.e. local/national and international news media). In sympathetic Islamist news media, they recalled being referred to as either an “activist” or a “mujahideen” while in “grey” publications, they were referred to simply as “perpetrators” without any mention of the term “terrorism” and its derivatives. Conversely, in non-Islamist news media, they were referred to as a “terrorist” or a “former terrorist” dependent on the time they were interviewed. Additionally, in local/national news media, they recalled being labelled as “napiter” or “mantan napiter.” Napiter is a shorthand for narapida terorisme (terrorism inmate) while “mantan napiter” is short for mantan narapida terorisme (former terrorism inmate). All these labels were valued differently by Farhan and Taufiq.

They preferred to be labelled as an “activist” or a “mujahideen” as these terms present their actions in a positive light. The term “activist” is appealing as it presents the notion of them seeking to transform an unjust world.[39] They were ambivalent about being referred to simply as a “perpetrator” as it does not categorize their actions as terrorism but also does not celebrate their actions. The terms 1) “terrorist”, 2) “napiter”, 3) “former terrorists” and 4) “mantan napiter” upset them as they still do not deem their actions as acts of terrorism even after their release from prison. Such perception is an indication that they are not deradicalized but had simply disengaged from violence. They, however, understand the use of these four terms as they rationalized that these news media were pro-government. Such rationalization demonstrated their vast power difference between them and the government, painting their struggles as David versus Goliath. Of these four terms, “mantan napiter” was deemed by both to be most acceptable for two reasons. They stated that the term included the word “mantan” or “former” which they felt allowed them to be dissociated from a negative term i.e. terrorism. Additionally, the term “napiter” was viewed by them as a specialized term that was only understood by some. Similarly, this further enabled them to distance themselves from being associated with “terrorism.”

It is upsetting to be labelled as a “terrorist” by the [news] media. But I understand why they do so and I do not have much problem with it… To me, terms used by Islamist [news] media are most appropriate to describe us [terrorism inmates]. [Taufiq]

Personally, I am uncomfortable with these terms [referring to the terms “former terrorists” and “mantan napiter”] but it is alright… [Of the two terms] I actually prefer mantan napiter as this term is not known by all. [Farhan]

Additionally, they did not want to be referred to as “terrorism experts” nor “terrorism analysts” despite them providing their opinions about terrorism incidents after their release. Though such terms are perceived positively by the general public, there are several possible reasons for their rejection of these terms. Apart from truly not possessing data, they may also be attempting to hide whatever information that they have from their continued online communications such as via WhatsApp and Telegram with their peers who were still incarcerated. If so, this was to prevent them from getting into trouble with the Indonesian authorities or to prevent them from being labelled as a traitor by their peers. Fear of being labelled a traitor would compromise their attainment of symbolic immortality which demonstrates that a cognitive shift has yet to take place. Additionally, the fear of authorities and its consequences further support the notion of disengagement instead of deradicalization.

In terms of preference, Farhan and Taufiq ranked Islamist news media to be most favorable, followed by international news media, and lastly, local/national news media. It is no surprise for them to prefer Islamist news media considering their perceptions that this news media was fair and accurate, and presented them favorably to readers. Therefore, Islamist news media enables them to be remembered and prayed for by their peers and by Muslim readers. Additionally, Farhan believed that terrorism inmates asserted control over Islamist news media as this news media would listen to complaints whenever these inmates objected to their articles. After their release, Farhan and Taufiq are still yearning to be interviewed by Islamist news media. This is because of their perceptions of how just these news media are and the ability to reach out to similar-minded readers.

Islamist [news] media have yet to interview me after my release [from prison]. This is common for all mantan napiter [former terrorism inmates] but I still want them to interview me… The only way I can get interviewed by them is if I played key roles in events such as 212 demonstrations… I was there but only as a spectator. [Taufiq] (In 2017 and 2018, a series of demonstrations were held in Jakarta in response to calls to defend Islam after the former Jakarta governor was deemed to have insulted Islam in the lead up to the 2017 gubernatorial election.)

It is surprising that they next preferred interview opportunities from international news media as they have blamed Western news media for contributing to the persecutions of Muslims and the rise of Islamophobia. The first reason for their preference is the wide outreach they can get from these news media. While incarcerated, Farhan yearned to be interviewed by news media of countries whose citizens were casualties of his attack.

We were taught to conduct attacks that would capture the attention of international [news] media from Al Qaeda. We shouldn’t be bothered about conducting attacks that won’t make it into the news… By getting interviewed by [news] media from countries whom I have hurt, they will understand the seriousness of my actions… [Farhan]

To him, this was a way to inflict terror and trauma to these countries by putting a human face behind these attacks. Farhan continued yearning for such opportunities post-release from prison. This time, he opined that by garnering international attention to him, he could help the Indonesian government eradicate terrorism in Indonesia through collaborations with foreign governments. Unfortunately, such intentions may simply be an attempt to sound noble as Farhan, if given the chance, would like for news media to continue referring to him as a “mujahideen.” Another reason for their preference for international news media is that if they disagreed with how their articles turn out, these news media were too far for them to protest. This may also indicate how insignificant the perceptions of international readers of them were to them. The third reason is that they felt like “important people” in their communities as foreigners would visit their residences after their release from prison. This sense of importance is due to their communities rarely seeing foreigners yet alone having them visit their residences. Related to this sense of importance is the sense of stardom that they first experienced while incarcerated and has continued even after their release from prison.

During the early stages of my trial, a prison guard told me to be prepared to feel like an artiste. That I should also watch what I say to the [news] media. [Farhan]

To be honest, most mantan napiter [former terrorism inmates] will feel like celebrities after their release [from prison] because of all the attention they receive from the [news] media. But not me [spoken with a grin; suggesting that he too believed that he was a celebrity but was simply acting coy]. [Taufiq]

Garnering interest from international news media were also seen as opportunities for them to travel abroad. Such opportunities are extremely rare for them due to their financial constraints. It is also noteworthy that it is common practice for former Indonesian terrorism inmates to request for financial compensation for their participation in interviews. Generally, financial compensations requested from international organizations will be higher than those locally based, thus, further heightening the preference for interview opportunities from international news media. Interestingly, Farhan opined that the amount of attention and financial compensation that a former terrorism perpetrator can gain is one factor that drives the continuation of terrorism in Indonesia. This belief stems from the high unemployment rate and a significant portion of Indonesians earning below the average national monthly income. In addition to economic deprivation yet to be proven as a reliable indicator, financial compensation received from these opportunities serve as supplemental income.[40] This is evident from the need for former terrorism inmates to seek employment after their release from prison.

They least preferred local/national news media as these news media are seen to be pro-government and therefore, will portrait Farhan and Taufiq in ways that they disagree with. This sentiment stems from how significant they value the perspectives of local/national readers who are majority Muslims. Farhan was particularly cynical of local/national news media whom he considered to be more money-oriented than publishing accurate news articles. This meant that these news media would intentionally manipulate Farhan’s statements to make them more news-worthy and interesting.

During my time in prison, I found out that these journalists [from local/national news media] will turn my 100-word statement to a 1000-word essay… They [journalists from local/national news media] are very interested in having me interviewed. This is because if they can get a statement from me, no matter how short it is, they will get IDR 300,000. If they can get my statement and my photo, they will get IDR 500,000. [This is substantial as the average monthly income in Indonesia around their time of arrests was around IDR 3.5 million] [Farhan]

Negative Impact of News Media Coverage on Their Post-Release Lives

Despite enjoying the benefits from receiving attention from news media after their release from prison, both Farhan and Taufiq cited a negative impact. Both highlighted their belief that their communities still harbored distrust of them despite welcoming them back after their release. This sense of distrust concerns them as they feared of one day being rejected by their communities. Farhan’s and Taufiq’s frequent interviews with news media would serve as a constant reminder of their past to their communities. This sense of distrust would be exacerbated if their community members were questioned by the authorities about Farhan’s and Taufiq’s recent whereabouts and activities. This would create a perception that both Farhan and Taufiq were in trouble with the law again.

Such perceptions of distrust also affect their self-esteem as they constantly fear new friends and new neighbors shunning them upon knowing their past. Though both Farhan and Taufiq do not mind sharing their past to others, they are always worried that their friends and neighbors would not accept their past due to what they have read from news media. Therefore, they are constantly living their lives in a state of damage control. This would also make them more sensitive to jokes about them by those who knew of their past. Jokes about getting Farhan to bomb their opponent soccer team after losing for example, though comical, concerns them as it encourages those who do not know of their past to wanting to find out more about them. This is particularly concerning for them as their “background can be easily found on Google” from news media articles. Their friends would likely rely on local/national news media which both Farhan and Taufiq least trusted and least preferred.

Interestingly, Farhan and Taufiq were not concerned about any misunderstandings that their families could have from reading online news articles about them. This is because they could exert more control over their families’ opinions about them. Due to kinship and possibly the desire to not be associated with something shameful, they may be more receptive to understanding why Farhan and Taufiq were involved in terrorism. Supporting this is King, Noor and Taylor’s study in which they discovered that their participants, immediate relatives of Indonesian JI members, agreed with their kin’s involvement in terrorism.[41]

I am not too worried about that [in the context of how his family could read news articles about him online]… At most if my children were to ask, I would provide them with an explanation… I will tell them that everything is not like what it seems in the [local/national news] media… In the [local/national news] media, I would be referred to as a perpetrator of a crime. But when I talk to my family, I will tell them that, according to me, I was not involved in a crime. [Taufiq]


Based on how preferable they view Islamist news media and how significant they value the opinions of Indonesian Muslim readers, it is indicative that Islamist news media is a platform for terrorism perpetrators to attain symbolic immortality. Such immortality can be attained by being remembered favorably by Muslim readers. Though the international and local/national news media provide them with a wider outreach, these forms of news media only facilitates them gaining popularity and a sense of importance in their communities after their release from prison. Such gaining of popularity and importance will assist them in gaining a favorable image within their communities. Since they value the opinions of their communities based on their concerns of one day being rejected by them, it is indicative that international and local/national news media can assist them in gaining symbolic immortality, not through the contents of their news article but awarding former terrorism inmates a favorable image within their communities. The three news media may not be useful in helping terrorism perpetrators in being remembered by their families due to the belief that they can exert control over how their families perceive of them.

Garnering a favorable image within their communities would be important to individuals such as Farhan and Taufiq as it provides them with a cover to hide their true worldview. From their interviews, it is highly suggestive that Farhan and Taufiq are disengaged and not deradicalized due to their lack of cognitive shift from the worldview propagated by their terrorist organization. This was seen from their belief that their involvement in the attacks are wrongly classified as terrorism. This meant that they still believed that their actions were necessary responses to the persecution of Muslims globally. Additionally, the Indonesian government’s decision to classify terrorism as an extraordinary crime and the specialized treatment accorded to them by news media and not to perpetrators of general crimes could serve to harden their worldview. This would consequently make it harder for these individuals to deradicalize. Though there may be a concern that disengaged terrorism perpetrators may be temporarily suspending the pursuit of violence, future research could attempt to elucidate if the increased opportunity to attain symbolic immortality after their release from prison is one reason to no longer pursue literal immortality via martyrdom. This could, thus, contribute to research on the drivers of individual-level disengagement and to the debate of whether there is a tendency for former terrorism inmates to return to terrorist activities.[42]

Being disengaged from their continued belief that their violent actions were not criminal is concerning. As terrorism perpetrators could receive normative support from their immediate relatives, disengaged individuals may themselves serve as sources for normative support for their kin. Normative support, both explicitly and implicitly, would, thus, provide a favorable environment for their kin to pursue terrorism. Fortunately, there are other considerations before an individual decides to pursue terrorism. In other words, it is not definitive for the kin of disengaged terrorism perpetrators to pursue violence. This, however, could be different for former terrorism inmates who have yet to be deradicalized or disengaged. Instead of simply providing normative support, the kin of such individuals could be encouraged or even compelled to violence. Of particular concern would be the children of such individuals who are impressionable, would have no control over the type of education they would receive, and would generally follow their parent’s instructions out of fear of disrespecting their parents. The death of a 12-year-old Indonesian boy in Syria while fighting for the Islamic State in 2016 provides support for this concern. Prior to his death, he sent a voice message to his mother seeking his parents’ support and prayers. At that time, his father was in prison for a terrorism-related offence.

This, thus, highlights the importance of not only evaluating terrorism perpetrators while incarcerated but also their family members. Such evaluation should also be extended to those who have been released from prison. Through these evaluations, interventions for example mandatory religious classes and counselling sessions can be prescribed to those in need. It is also important for these evaluations and interventions to be carried out consistently by all parties, both government and non-government agencies, involved. Fortunately for Indonesia, such consistencies can be achieved by the National Counterterrorism Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme or BNPT) playing a central coordinative role.

[1] Russell F. Farnen, “Terrorism and the Mass Media: A Systemic Analysis of a Symbiotic Process,” Terrorism 13(2) (1990), pp. 99-143.

[2] Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, and Sheldon Solomon, “The Causes and Consequences of a Need for Self-Esteem: A Terror Management Theory,” in Roy F. Baumeister, eds., Public Self and Private Self, pp. 189-212 (New York, NY: Springer-Verlag).

[3] Scott Poynting and Barbara Perry, “Climates of Hate: Media and State Inspired Victimisation of Muslims in Canada and Australia since 9/11,” Current Issues in Criminal Justice 19(2) (2007), pp 151-171.

[4] Tom Pyszczynski, Zachary Rothschild, and Abdolhossien Abdollahi, “Terrorism, Violence, and Hope for Peace,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 17(5) (2008), pp. 318-322; Megan K. McBride, “The Logic of Terrorism: Existential Anxiety, the Search for Meaning, and Terrorist Ideologies,” Terrorism and Political Violence 23(4) (2011), pp.560-581.

[5] Jacob Juhl and Clay Routledge, “The Effects of Trait Self-esteem and Death Cognitions on Worldview Defense and Search for Meaning,” Death Studies 38 (2014), pp. 62-68.

[6] Lindsay H. Dewa, Carol A. Ireland, and Jane L. Ireland, “Terror Management Theory: The Influence of Terrorism Salience on Anxiety and the Buffering of Cultural Worldview and Self-esteem,” Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 21(3) (2014), pp. 370-384.

[7] McBride, “The Logic of Terrorism: Existential Anxiety, the Search for Meaning, and Terrorist Ideologies.”

[8] Enny Das, Brad J. Bushman, Marieke D. Bezemer, Peter Kerkhof, and Ivar E. Vermeulen, “How Terrorism News Reports Increase Prejudice against Outgroups: A Terror Management Account,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45 (2009), pp. 453-459; Dewa et al., “Terror Management Theory: The Influence of Terrorism Salience on Anxiety and the Buffering of Cultural Worldview and Self-esteem”; Arnaud Wisman and Nathan A. Heflick, “Hopelessly Mortal: The Role of Mortality Salience, Immortality and Trait Self-esteem in Personal Hope,” Cognition and Emotion 30(5) (2016), pp. 868-889.

[9] An example of a study on how the media is demonstrated to unconsciously assist terrorism: Ayla Schbley, “Religious Terrorism, the Media, and International Islamization Terrorism: Justifying the Unjustifiable,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 27(3) (2004), pp. 207-233.

[10] Examples of such studies include: Hien la and Selena Pickett, “Framing Boko Haram’s Female Suicide Bombers in Mass Media: An Analysis of News Articles post Chibok Abduction,” Critical Studies on Terrorism (2019), pp. 1-21; Adrian Cherney and Kristina Murphy, “Being a ‘Suspect Community’ in a post 9/11 world – The Impact of the War on Terror on Muslim Communities in Australia,” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology 0(0) (2015), pp. 1-17; Mahmoud Eid, “The New Era of Media and Terrorism,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36(7) (2013), pp. 609-615; Das et al, “How Terrorism News Reports Increase Prejudice against Outgroups: A Terror Management Account”.

[11] L. John Martin, “The Media’s Role in International Terrorism,” Terrorism 8(2) (1986), pp. 127-146; Anne Aly, Stuart Macdonald, Lee Jarvis and Thomas M. Chen, “Introduction to the Special Issue: Terrorist Online Propaganda and Radicalication,” Studies in Terrorism & Conflict, Micheal J. Kelly and Thomas H. Mitchell, “Transnational Terrorism and the Western Elite Press,” Political Communication 1(3) (1981), pp. 269-296.

[12] Eid, “The New Era of Media and Terrorism”; Kelly and Mitchell, “Transnational Terrorism and the Western Elite Press.”

[13] Farnen, “Terrorism and the Mass Media: A Systemic Analysis of a Symbiotic Process.”

[14] Ibid.

[15] Henrik Fürst and Karin Idevall Hagren, “Frames of Death: Media Audience Framing of a Lethal Drone Strike” in Tora Holmberg, Annika Jonsson, and Fedrik Palm, 2019, Death Matters: Cultural Sociology of Mortal Life, pp. 221-239 (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan).

[16] La and Pickett, “Framing Boko Haram’s Female Suicide Bombers in Mass Media: An Analysis of News Articles post Chibok Abduction”; Mohammed Hafez and Creighton Mullins, “The Radicalization Puzzle: A Theoretical Synthesis of Empirical Approaches to Homegrown Extremism,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 38(11) (2015), pp. 958-975.

[17] Poynting and Perry, “Climates of Hate: Media and State Inspired Victimisation of Muslims in Canada and Australia since 9/11.”

[18] Dewa et al., “Terror Management Theory: The Influence of Terrorism Salience on Anxiety and the Buffering of Cultural Worldview and Self-esteem”

[19] Aly et al, “Introduction to the Special Issue: Terrorist Online Propaganda and Radicalization”; Eid, “The New Era of Media and Terrorism”; el-Sayed el-Aswad, “Images of Muslims in Western Scholarship and Media after 9/11,” Digest of Middle East Studies 22(1) (2013), pp. 39-56.

[20] Akil N. Awan, “Radicalization on the Internet? The Virtual Propagation of Jihadist Media and its Effects,” RUSI 152(3) (2007), pp. 76-81.

[21] Hafez and Mullins, “The Radicalization Puzzle: A theoretical Synthesis of Empirical Approaches to Homegrown Extremism”; Cherney and Murphy, “Being a ‘Suspect Community’ in a post 9/11 World – The Impact of the War on Terror on Muslim Communities in Australia”; el-Aswad, “Images of Muslims in Western Scholarship and Media after 9/11.”

[22] John C. Amble, “Combating Terrorism in the New Media Environment,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 35(5) (2012), pp. 339-353; Paul B. Rich, “Understanding Terror, Terrorism, and Their Representations in Media and Culture,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36(3) (2013), pp. 255-277; Ülkü Güney, “‘We See Our People Suffering’: The War, the Mass Media and the Reproduction of Muslim Identity among Youth,” Media, War & Conflict 3(2) (2010), pp. 168-181.

[23] Anne Aly, “Australian Muslim Responses to the Discourse on Terrorism in the Australian Popular Media,” Australian Journal of Social Issues 42(1) (2007), pp. 27-40.

[24] Awan, “Radicalization on the Internet? The Virtual Propagation of Jihadist Media and its Effects”; Aly, “Australian Muslim Responses to the Discourse on Terrorism in the Australian Popular Media.”

[25] Shane Kingston, “Terrorism, the Media, and the Northern Ireland Conflict,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 18(3) (1995), pp. 203-231.

[26] Scott Atran, “Pathways to and from Violent Extremism: The Case for Science-based Field Research,” Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats & Capabilities (2010).

[27] Anat Shoshani and Michelle Slone, “The Drama of Media Coverage of Terrorism: Emotional and Attitudinal Impact on the Audience,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 31(7) (2008), pp. 627-640; Yariv Tsfati and Gabriel Weimann, “ Terror on the Internet,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 25(5) (2011), pp. 317-332.

[28] Shoshani and Slone, “The Drama of Media Coverage of Terrorism: Emotional and Attitudinal Impact on the Audience.”

[29] Atran, “Pathways to and from Violent Extremism: The Case for Science-based Field Research”; Aly et al, “Introduction to the Special Issue: Terrorist Online Propaganda and Radicalization.”

[30] Ralph E. Dowling, “Victimage and Mortification: Terrorism and its Coverage in the Media,” Terrorism 12(1) (1989), pp. 47-62.

[31] Ian Chalmers, “Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia,” Asian Studies Review 41(3) (2017), pp. 331-351; Davide M. Jones and Michael L. R. Smith, “Ideology, Networks and Political Religion: Structure and Agency in Jemaah Islamiah’s Small World,” Politics, Religion & Ideology 13(4) (2012), pp.473-493; Sidney Jones, “The Changing Nature of Jemaah Islamiyah,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 59(2) (2005), pp. 169-178.

[32] Chalmers, “Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia.”

[33] Andrew T. H. Tan, “Evaluating Counter-terrorism Strategies in Asia,” Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism 13(2) (2018), pp. 155-169.

[34] Julie C. Hwang and Kirsten E. Schulze, “Why They Join: Pathways into Indonesian Jihadist Organizations,” Terrorism and Political Violence (2018), pp. 1-22.

[35] Gillian S. Oak, “Jemaah Islamiyah’s Fifth Phase: The Many Faces of a Terrorist Group,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 33(11) (2010), pp. 989-1018.

[36] McBride, “The Logic of Terrorism: Existential Anxiety, the Search for Meaning, and Terrorist Ideologies.”

[37] Clarke R. Jones and Resurrecion S. Morales, “Integration versus Segregation: A Preliminary Examination of Philippine Correctional Facilities for De-Radicalization,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 35(3) (2012), pp. 211-228; Raquel da Silva, Pablo Fernández-Navarro, Miguel M. Gonçalves, Catarina Rosa and Joana Silva, “Disengagement from Political Violence and Deradicalization: A Narrative-Dialogical Perspective,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (2018).

[38] Chalmers, “Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia.”

[39] Hafez and Mullins, “The Radicalization Puzzle: A theoretical Synthesis of Empirical Approaches to Homegrown Extremism.”

[40] Michael King, Haula Noor and Donald M. Taylor, “Normative Support for Terrorism: The Attitudes and Beliefs of Immediate Relatives of Jema’ah Islamiyah Members,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 34(5) (2011), pp.402-417.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Julie C. Hwang, “The Disengagement of Indonesian Jihadists: Understanding the Pathways,” Terrorism and Political Violence (2015), pp. 1-19.

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