Think Tank (3/2022)
Dian Yulia Novi, one of two former domestic workers who had allegedly volunteered to become suicide bombers in Jakarta and Bali, in Jakarta. Indonesian women are taking on a more active role in violent extremism, with some seeking to become Islamic State (IS) group suicide bombers, a leading security think tank has warned. STR/AFP via Getty Images
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Risk of Radicalisation among Segments of the Indonesian Diaspora
23 May 2022

Radicalisation amongst a small section of the Indonesian diaspora is not a new phenomenon, but rather a problem that has been exacerbated by social media. This is what Dr Noor Huda Ismail, Visiting Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, had to say at the webinar titled “Risk of Radicalisation among Segments of the Indonesian Diaspora”.

Hosted by the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), Dr Ismail explained at the webinar how information and communication technology has amplified the proliferation of extremist ideas, exacerbating the funding, transit, and recruitment activities of extremist networks.

Outlining the complex sources of feelings of alienation amongst Indonesian migrant workers, Dr Ismail proposed that an intersectionality approach provides an appropriate framework for making sense of how different facets of identity can combine to produce radicalisation.

This idea resonated with Dr Haula Noor’s presentation on the role of the family unit in radicalisation. Dr Noor, who teaches at Indonesian International Islamic University, Depok, presented case studies to demonstrate how certain vulnerabilities to radicalisation among Indonesian migrant workers have roots in upbringing and family dysfunction. In doing so, she identified various family factors that might be leveraged upon to help build societal resilience and inoculate migrant workers against radicalisation.

Dr Noor’s comments resonated with what Mr Wahyu Susilo, Executive Director of Migrant CARE, presented following his organisation’s 2019 study on radicalisation among Indonesian migrant workers. Mr Susilo expounded on the pathologies of migrant worker radicalisation, highlighting his view that the latter can result from a combination of discrimination in host countries and cultural dislocation that induces ‘moral panic.’

The lively Q&A session had a recurring focus on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrant worker radicalisation. The three speakers concurred that the pandemic has exacerbated the phenomenon, wherein migrant communities have seen social media supplant everyday interactions. Dr Ismail pointed out that the desire to belong can lead vulnerable individuals to extremist networks, especially juxtaposed against migrant worker alienation that can be even more acute during COVID-19 according to Dr Noor. The session concluded with a discussion on the importance of digital literacy in securing communities against online radicalisation.

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