ICPVTR Webinar Series on Terrorism Landscape in Southeast Asia by Dete Aliah and Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady
Managing the Return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Southeast Asia: Complexities and Challenges
About the Series
The generally subdued security climate in 2020 in Southeast Asia was breached by the suicide attack in Makassar, Indonesia on 28 Mar 2021. Until then, restrictive COVID-19 measures put in place by governments had seemingly arrested the mobility and planning abilities of jihadist groups in the region. Some observers had cautioned though that this security quietude was temporary and could represent a time for jihadists to lie low, regroup and review their ideological narratives, funding streams and operational plans before they spring back into action. In light of the latest attack, what lies ahead for the SEA terrorism landscape which had been with past attacks by local affiliates of the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State? In order to understand how the terrorism threat may unfold in the foreseeable future, ICPVTR is holding a series of webinars during the year to explore different aspects of the evolving threat picture in SEA. The series examines the dynamics of the region’s terrorism landscape, with in-depth discussions on the complexities and challenges in managing the return of foreign terrorist fighters, terrorism financing, latest developments in conflict areas which attract jihadists like Marawi, and the best practices and obstacles in countering online radicalisation.
In the second webinar of the series, Ms Dete Aliah and Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady will provide insights on Indonesia and Malaysia’s repatriation policies of their citizens who had joined IS in Syria and Iraq. The speakers will discuss the conditions of these regional Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) and their families currently held at the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s prisons and refugee camps in Syria. They will assess the preparedness of and challenges posed to both Indonesia and Malaysia governments as well as civil societies in managing the returnees, in terms of the legal process, rehabilitation, monitoring, and reintegration to the society. Ms Dete and Dr Ahmad will offer a set of policy recommendations which authorities could focus on to mitigate the threats posed by the Indonesian and Malaysian returnees, who represent the largest IS fighters from Southeast Asia.
Dete Aliah Siti Darojatul Aliah, otherwise known as Dete, is the Founder and Director of Jakarta-based SeRVE (Society against Radicalism and Violent Extremism). She was also formerly the Managing Director of the Board of Institute for International Peace Building (Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian/YPP). Her work includes disengagement of former and current violent extremist offenders and their families, as well as pro-IS deportees. Apart from managing her organisation, she assists the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) in formulating policies and promoting the creation of a special task force to manage the radicalised pro-IS Indonesian women and children’s deportees and returnees. Dete also assisted The Indonesian National Counter Terrorism Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme/BNPT) in establishing a woman’s working group to promote peace and counter radicalism and violent extremism in some provinces in Indonesia. She has written numerous articles on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) issues such as “The Role of Non-State Security Groups in Securing the Locals from Violent Extremism” (University of Amsterdam, 2019), “The Usage of Corruption as a Tool for Propaganda and Recruitment by Violent Extremism Groups” (2019), and “Radicalism in State Universities” (2019).
Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady is an Assistant Professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia, and an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), The Hague. He is involved in an ongoing project to develop Malaysia’s National Action Plan for Countering and Preventing Violent Extremism (NAPPCVE) initiated by the Institute of Public Security of Malaysia (IPSOM), under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA). Dr. Ahmad is also a member of the Deradicalisation Panel and an Expert/Specialist appointed by MOHA for terrorism cases. His forthcoming publication (co-authored with Dr Murni Wan Mohd Nor from Universiti Putra Malaysia) is “Radicalisation and Paramilitary Culture: The Case of Wanndy’s Telegram Groups in Malaysia” in Brad West and Thomas Crosbie (eds.), Militarization and the Global Rise of Paramilitary Culture Post-Heroic Re-imaginings of the Warrior (Springer, 2021).