Counter violent extremism: A collaboration between the University and the Government of Indonesia

Fajar Erikha, Anis Rufaedah, EE. Putra and US’. Enter a


Since 2001, research on terrorism has been increasing, with the number of studies on terrorism being higher than the terrorist attacks itself. This research addresses issues of terrorism through multiple angles, such as the impact of terrorism, the reasons why people join terrorist groups, the recruitment process, networking formation, the preparation, deradicalization, and also the role of online media as a ‘meeting point’ (e.g., Abas, 2011; Bjorgo & Horgan, 2009a; Erikha, Putra & Sarwono, 2016; Golose, 2010; Sageman, 2004; Sarwono, 2012a, 2012b; Sholahudin, 2011).

According to the definition offered by Victoroff and Kruglanski (2009), terrorism is an attack on the non-combatant in order to spread fear and fulfill political objectives. Terrorists perform terrorism acts since they know that the mechanism of raising people’s fear would lead to changes in people’s behaviour to follow the terrorists’ demands. Terrorism acts are performed with some political motives, including religious motives, such as terrorism acts by the Sikh community’ in India during the 1980s, the attack performed by the members of Aum Shinrikyo religious movement in Japan in 1995, the attack performed by Timothy McVeigh representing the American rightwing community Christian Identity in 1995, and the attacks performed by the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland since 1969, which concluded with a peace agreement in 1998. In this chapter, we will focus on the terrorism acts in Indonesia under the name of Islamic terrorist community, and analyze the programmes implemented on the terrorists convicted and also their wives. The programmes were based on social psychological perspective. Before we explain further about the deradicalization programme, we will consider the social psychology perspective.

Social psychology perspective on terrorism

After World War II, psychologists began to acknowledge that an individual’s interaction and behaviour arc influenced by people around them. Today, social psychology focuses on how an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are influenced by the people around them, in both actuality and imaginary (Allport, 1985). By understanding this perspective, a scholar is able to understand the reasons why an individual tends to do something that is contrary to his/her minds. They might be influenced by their parents or other significant figures. Therefore, social psychologists realize that people’s minds and behavior can be influenced by social and external factors.

We believe that terrorism is best explained from a social psychological perspective. Moghaddam (2005) pointed out that one of the main reasons for terrorism is the feeling of injustice. Specifically, the terrorists feel that they are being oppressed by Westerners because they are Muslims. On the other hand, Putra and Sukabdi (2013) found that when it comes to radical ideology, Indonesians refused to join any terrorist group as they believe Indonesia is not currently at war. Studies have found that by keeping the radical Muslims away from the idea of violence and war, and guiding them to discuss humanity and friendship instead, they are found to be more flexible and open to other religious groups (Putra, Erikha, Arimbi, & Rufaedah, 2017; Putra & Sukabdi, 2018). Similarly, Erikha et al. (2016) revealed that such radical Islamic groups may stand against Islamic State (IS) if they feel that IS has deviated from Islamic teachings on how to struggle in establishing the Islamic state. It can be seen that most of this disengagement from violence began when those radical Muslims arc more critical and starting to evaluate what they have done. Upon these concerns, the deradicalization programmes in Indonesia were initiated.

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