RSIS Seminar by Dr Julie Chernov Hwang, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Goucher College, USA
Reconsidering Violence: The Disengagement of Indonesian Jihadists
What are the processes by which jihadists from Indonesian militant groups disengage from violence and, in some instances, reintegrate into society? Disengagement is defined as the process by which a member of a terrorist group, radical movement, gang or cult ceases to participate in acts of violence. One may disengage via departing from the movement, going inactive, or remaining in the movement in non-violent roles. It is a gradual, often non-linear process, that is at once rational, emotional and deeply relational.
Based on original fieldwork between 2010-2015 including 50 interviews with current and former members of Jemaah Islamiyah, Mujahidin KOMPAK, Ring Banten, Tanah Runtuh, and Mujahidin Kayamanya, Reconsidering Violence proposes four factors that contribute to disengagement and reintegration of militants. Disillusionment with the tactics and leaders of the movement and rational assessments of the costs of ongoing participation in terror actions often begin the reflective process. However, the linchpin to successful disengagement is the building of an alternative social network of friends, mentors, supportive family members and even business associates that come in time to counter-balance the pull of one’s jihadi circle. Friends, family members or mentors in one’s alternative social network may challenge prior held views, introduce new information, and facilitate shifts in priorities away from clandestine violent activities toward employment, furthering education, and building a family. In short, they support the disengaging jihadist in conceptualizing a post-jihad life and developing a post-jihad identity. Reconsidering Violence explores the interaction effects between these four factors via analysis of the broad patterns data combined with life histories, the extent to which disengagement is conditional, and address the implications of these factors for counter-terrorism analysis and strategy.
About the Speaker:
Julie Chernov Hwang is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Goucher College. She is the author of Peaceful Islamist Mobilization in the Muslim World: What Went Right and co-editor of Islamist Parties and Political Normalization in the Muslim World. Her articles have been published in Terrorism and Political Violence, Asian Survey, Asia-Pacific Issues, Southeast Asia Research and Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. Her current book, Reconsidering Violence: The Disengagement of Indonesian Jihadists is under review at Cornell University Press.
Organised by IDSS Indonesia Programme and RSIS Events Unit.