Indonesia ponders return of Islamic State brides and children

JAKARTA (UCAN): More than 200 dependents of Islamic State fighters have expressed an eagerness to return to Indonesia following the defeat of the terror group and the death of its leader. However, a leading intelligence analyst and terrorism expert said specific measures must be implemented to de-radicalise them before allowing them to reintegrate with society as they remain extremely dangerous.

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) said there are at least 113 women and 100 children in Syria wanting to return. Some expressed a desire to leave after victory over Islamic State was declared in March, more said they wanted to leave after the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed by United States special forces in Syria on October 26.

“(They) want to leave Syria but their repatriation awaits a government decision,” BNPT spokesman Andhika Chrisnayudhanto said on November 20.

He said the women went with their husbands to join Islamic State in Syria but after their husbands were killed they married other fighters and had children. 

“The Indonesian government has not decided yet,” said Chrisnayudhanto. “We are worried they could trigger terror attacks in Indonesia.”

Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, said the government would allow their return if they pledged to adhere to the secular national ideology known as Pancasila.

Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia, said the would-be returnees are in a refugee camp in Syria and should they return, would have to be detained and undergo a strict de-radicalisation process.

He noted that some previous returnees, had joined Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, an Indonesian terror group affiliated with Islamic State that has launched attacks in various parts of the country.

Riyanta remarked that while the government may want to welcome them, they have to be processed legally and totally rehabilitated before they can live among ordinary people. This would mean staying in police camps and undergoing special programmes led by psychologists, clerics and educators.

“If they aren’t rehabilitated, they can awaken old or establish new terror cells,” he cautioned.

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