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Countering Violent Extremism and Cultivating Peace

Through Creativity
Search For Common Ground
Jakarta Indonesia
Saadiya Usmani

In partial fulfillment of the Masters of

Arts in Conflict and Coexistence
Submitted to Professor Mari Fitzduf
On November 30th 2015

Table of Contents


Executive Summary
Key Words Description
Internship Description
Statement Of Relevance
Literature Review
Learning Objectives
1.10 Methodology
1.11 Presentation of the Key Findings
1.12 Challenges Faced
1.13 Conclusions Recommendations Next Steps
1.14 Appendices
1.15 References and Bibliography


This Thesis and My Masters Degree is dedicated to my brother
Ahmed Ali Usmani for showing me the power of persistence,
perseverance and unconditional Love.

And for Maitreya; for shining His ever guiding light on me each
and every step of the way.

Executive Summary:
Indonesia is a country of many paradoxes. It is the worlds second
largest democracy, and it is also houses the world largest Muslim
population along with five other major religions. Indonesia has seen
many violent conflicts erupt ever since colonization and to this day
the country seems to be ever divided on culture, identities, religions
and religious philosophies.

Indonesian history has been tainted with mass scale killings, based
on differing religious, political and societal ideologies. On the other
hand, it has also seen its fair share of fighting for independence.
Under the Dutch rule, the Indonesian people put up a united front to
eject the monarchy; as with the concept of colonization amongst
many countries, where there seems to a poor governance, lack of
independent thinking and weak leadership. The country has been
unable to find a united vision ever since its independence
undoubtedly due to the divide and conquer vision that the history of
colonization is based upon.
Recently, Indonesia has seen one of the highest rates of
radicalization of its youth, as well as seeing religious, extremism and
intolerance grow significantly in a matter of just a few years. This
internship was focused on looking at the various methods of
countering a violent extremist narrative with a more positive
perception of community and peace building.
This internship was conducted at Search For Common Ground
Indonesia, located in Jakarta. SFCG is an International NGO providing
peace building and conflict transformation services across 53
countries in the world.

Key Words Description:

SFCG: Search For Common Ground
INGO: International Non Governmental Organization

CVE: Countering Violent Extremism

USAID: United States Agency for International Development
AusAid: Australia Aid (Aid organization for Australia)
ASEAN: Association of South East Asian Nations
AII: Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII)
MOU: Memorandum Of Understanding
GAM: Free Aceh Movement
DOM: Military Operations Region
DM&E: Design Monitoring and Evaluation
JI: Jamah-e-Islami
APEC: Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
CSO: Civil Society Organization
FGD: Focus Group Discussions
JAT: Jamaah Anshorul Tauhid (leading jihadi organization)
DNH: Do No Harm
ADR: Alternate Dispute Resolution
FKPT: Terrorism Prevention Coordination Forums (Forum Kordinasi
Pencegahan Terorisme)


For this Internship report I first and foremost like to thank The Divine
for allowing me the means and the ability to pursue my ambitions
and dreams of cultivating large-scale change.
I would like to thank Mari Fitzduff for taking me under her wing and
agreeing to be my advisor, as well as helping me in navigating a
somewhat interesting and at times intense Internship. Also, for
being a sounding board when times got tough, and telling me that
this too shall pass.
I would also like to thank the program administrators, Marc Kiredjian
and Sandra Jones, without their help; I would not be able to immerse
myself in such a great learning experience.
I would like to thank the Administration Staff at Search For Common
Ground Indonesia for their love, support, smiling faces and above all
their perseverance and their ability to shine even in times of
extreme adversity. Pramita Handayani, Anggi Arini, Valleria and
Gressia, you taught me the power of kindness.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my parents: My father,
whose constant words of encouragement, extreme hard work and all
encompassing support made this Masters program possible; and for
my mother for her grace, humility and for encouraging her children
to always follow the right path, no matter how difficult it maybe.

This internship was carried out at the country offices of Search For
Common Ground (Search) in Jakarta Indonesia. Search has been in
operation in Indonesia for the past 11 years, and has worked on a
variety of projects, focusing around the field of peace building and
dialogue. In addition to peace building work they have also carried
out programs in prison facilities, youth empowerment and women
empowerment in Politics.
Though the majority of the work that Search Indonesia carries out
has been mainly towards conflict transformation, more recently
Search Indonesia has been actively working towards achieving
gender equality, promoting religious tolerance as well as cultivating
creativity for at risk youth. They have produced comic books, radio
shows and films that enhance as well as compliment the work in and
around the Asia Pacific region.
Their Mission statement is as follows:

End violent conflict. Its our purpose our call to action.

Instead of tearing down an existing world, we focus on
constructing a new one. We do this through a type of peace
building called conflict transformation. Meaning: we look to
change the everyday interactions between groups of people in
conflict, so they can work together to build up their
community, choosing joint problem solving over violence. Our
mission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict,
away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative
solutions. (Sfcg.org/what-we-do)

Internship Description:
My Internship was based in Jakarta, Indonesia, with limited travel to
local project areas. The start date for my internship was July 29th
2015 with a proposed end date of November 30th 2015. During my
time at Search Indonesia, I was a project intern responsible for
overseeing ongoing projects, providing inputs on improvements,
looking for new projects and funding, finalizing and submitting final
reports for projects completed and devising ways for innovative
mediations and conflict transformation procedures. I was heavily
involved with working with the project team responsible for dealing
with Countering Violent Extremism within youth. I also worked on
identifying new project opportunities, as well as drawing up
Expressions of Interest Statements (EOI), Concept Notes (CN) and
Request For Information (RFIs) for various projects with a number of
international donors and funding organizations.

Statement of Relevance:
Dialogue is instrumental when trying to engineer peace. My decision
for choosing to do my internship with Search Indonesia was
predominantly based on this ideology. Search Indonesia has had
over 11 years of building acceptance tolerance and a strong
commitment to bring coexistence for communities within the
Indonesian context.
Indonesia has seen large-scale colonial and societal struggles, some
of which continue to this day. When Search Indonesia started its
operations in Jakarta nearly 11 years ago, the idea for dialogue as
well as bringing various communities together was still in its infancy.
The history of Indonesia is rich not only in culture but also in its
struggles. It faced many occupations mainly by the Europeans, the
most recent being the Dutch occupation. An important aspect to
note however is that prior to the colonial occupation, there was no
country called Indonesia, it was mainly large islands, with various
cultures, religions and people living in cohesion and accepting each
other and their values.
The colonial period and the years following independence have been
the bloodiest and conflict ridden in this regions history. There had
been large-scale arrests and deaths of citizens that believed in an
alternative political view. Author Antoine Dake elaborates in his book
The Spirit Of The Red Banteng (2002) where he talks about the role
of military dictatorship in Indonesia and the ensuing conflict that
continues to this day. He argues that the premature death of

communism led to various conflicts and the downfall of the peaceloving Indonesian people. His critical analysis of the role of the
United States meddling in the affairs of the Indonesian people he
says is the sole reason why the country is in such disarray.

History of Violent Conflicts:

One of the greatest tragedies perhaps in the Indonesian history is
the massacre of thousands of Indonesian people in 1965. At the
height of the cold war when the world was divided between two
different schools of political thought, where one world power
supported pro capitalist ideologies and the other pro communist
school of thought, Indonesia was fighting its own internal battles for
survival. There was a deep economic crisis, shortage of food and
fuels for the majority of the Indonesian people.
As Suharto attempted a coup dtat in 1965, the ensuing failure
resulted in a widespread massacre of the people of Indonesia, those
that believed in the communist ideologies were brutally slaughtered,
their families were stripped of their national identities and thus
began a very long history of violence and dictatorship, which
created an unequal and unjust society primed for societal failure.
President Sukarno in an emergency handed over the power to
General Suharto in 1966, and Suharto was officially made president
in 1967. (BBC News: Indonesia Country profile)
In 1966, Indonesia formally incorporated West Papua as one of its
provinces calling it Irian Jaya Province. West Papua is still one of the
hotbeds of violent conflict in Indonesia and often sees religious and
ethnic divide break out. West Papua has constantly demanded


independence-based religion, and differences in culture. These

demands have intensified as time has progressed.
In 1976, Indonesia invaded the Christian majority state of East Timor
and incorporated it as one of its provinces; a widespread killing of
East Timorese people began and reportedly two hundred thousand
people died due to strategic famine, disease, hunger and violence.
In 1999 a referendum for autonomy of East Timor was announced,
but violence broke out and the Indonesian government sponsored
anti independence groups who then began violence and intimidation
After 25 years of Indonesian occupation nearly 80% of east Timorese
voted in favor of succession from Indonesia. According to the United
Nations the Militias forced nearly half a million people to flee their
homes, and as many as quarter of a million people were killed. In
1999 following extreme pressures from the international community,
Indonesia allowed United Nations forces to enter East Timor. For the
next three years United Nations Transitional Authority forces
governed the island and tried to maintain peace and stability in the
region. In May 2002 East Timor declared itself as an independent
nation, Former Guerilla fighter and leader Mari Alkatiri was elected
prime minister and another former fighter Jose Alexander Gusmao
was named President. The massacre and violence in East Timor
remains one of the worst incidents of Human Rights Violations in the
history of the world. (Robinson, Crimes Against Humanity 2003)
Another large area of conflict in Indonesia was the province of Aceh,
where the government allowed large corporations to exploit the
natural resources of the region. In 1971 large deposits of natural gas
were discovered in the region, but due to misappropriations many
people were pushed out of their lands, and into poverty. As a result
of these injustices as well as excessive centralization and the clear
economic divide the Gerekan Aceh Merdekah (GAM) was formed.


GAMs main objective was the independence of Aceh. A civil war

took place in Aceh from 1998-2005, where over 10,000 peoples
were killed, over 8,000 injured and around 9500 buildings and
properties destroyed. The 2004 Tsunami was one of the main
reasons for the end of the conflict in the region. (Daily Mail, 14
December 2014)
The years between 1997-2001 saw a large increase in communal
conflicts in Central and West Kalimantan claiming over 3000 lives,
injuring scores more. Heightened tensions in 2000-2001 led to
increased communal violence in Central Sulawesi specifically in Poso
claiming over 1200 lives and injuring over 600, whilst destroying
thousands of buildings and homes.
Over the past decade, Indonesia has made serious efforts to address
terrorism within the country, encouraged largely in part by the
various terrorist bombings throughout the 2000s. Six years after the
latest Jakarta bombing, the countrys violent extremists are weak
and divided but still active. In the face of tough police pressure, they
are finding means to reorganize on the run, build links within the
prison system, and recruit online through various Internet forums.
Although there has been no major terrorist attack in recent years,
there are still numerous examples every quarter that are published
by local newspapers as well as the Institute of Policy Analysis on
Conflict in Jakarta (IPAC), which keeps a close watch on internal
conflicts of religious intolerance and violent extremism within
Indonesia. Every few weeks, there are reports of Densus 88,
Indonesias counterterrorism unit, arresting suspected terrorists
throughout Indonesia. For instance, this past August, a suspected
terrorist was arrested in Yogyakarta, a popular city in central Java
famous for its cultural and popular tourist attractions, for having
known affiliations with a terrorist network. (Jakarta Post, 28 August


Furthermore, specific target areas, such as Poso, frequently sees

arrests made of suspected terrorists with connections with several
religious fanatical groups. Since August, the Indonesian police have
been investigating a possible link between the various terrorist cells
in Poso to the Bangkok bombing at the Erawan Shrine that killed 20
and injured 125 people. They are explicitly considering whether the
East Indonesian Mujahidin (MIT) terrorist group headed by Santoso
in Poso was involved with the terrorist attack. (Santoso was the field
commander of the Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, which was behind the
Bali bombings in 2002). While no arrests have yet been made, the
chief commissioner of the Indonesian police has made a public
statement that they are attentively following the whereabouts of the
group. He believes that such a group may have 30 to 40 people
already actively taking part in terrorist activities.
As recently as October 14th, 2015, a group called the Aceh Singkil
Islamic Youth Movement allegedly burned down an HKI Indonesian
church in the Indonesian region of Aceh. The group claimed the
church was built without a proper permit and burned the Christian
church, which led to 2,500 people fleeing their homes to the North
Sumatran border. The head of the Indonesian Communion of
Churches (PGI) and Nahdlatal Ulama (NU), the countrys largest
Muslim organization, blamed the government for being incapable of
addressing the concerns expressed prior to the attack.
Christians in Bogor and Bekasi, also face persecution; local
governments have blocked construction of their churches, despite
Indonesias Supreme Court ruling that they may be built. These
Christians have been holding services outside the presidential
palace in Jakarta to draw notice to their worries at home.


Regulations can on certain events can work both ways: in majorityChristian Papua last month, Muslims fought a memo demanding that
no prayers should be held on a religious holiday; the ensuing clash
left one dead and a mosque razed. Where a mosque was accidently
burnt when perpetrators tried to set fire to the food stalls, could
have been much more serious, but the dialogue between the local
church and the mosque helped in diffusing the situation. Young
politicians in the area have asked for more interfaith dialogue and
training, as well as more religious freedom for all minorities. Young
leaders are also emphasising the need to have a shift in the
communities, religious mindset as well as a shift in perception and
manner of thinking and to devise ways to encourage empathy and
religious tolerance.

One of the main issues that Indonesia faces is the rising number of
youth that are so often the victims of brainwashing due to their age
are unable to decipher right from wrong. The terrorist recruitment
cells have cashed in on this and the recruitment efforts have only
increased overtime. In July 2015, 3 young men were sentenced to
prison over attempting to join an Islamic extremist group Eastern
Indonesia Mujahideen led by Indonesias most wanted man Santoso.
The presiding judge Kun Marioso told the North Jakarta district court
that three men Ahmet Mahmut, 20, Altinci Bayram, 29, and Tuzer
Abdul Basit, 23, had broken anti-terror laws and were guilty of an
"evil conspiracy".(Jakarta Globe, July 2015)
The new generations of Jihadis that are coming to the forefront on
the war against the West are young, more determined, and some
may say a result of the constant brainwashing they have received
over the past decade. Most of these young adults have chosen to
follow this route due to a lack of clear direction, an obvious vacuum
in programs for youth as well as lacking a vision towards a peaceful
future. The recent cases in Aceh also provide a much deeper and


troubling insight into the religious intolerance where laws are being
manipulated into deepening the religious divide. Aceh is also
troubling to witness as the number of women who have turned to
radicalization and extremism has grown drastically. Aceh also
remains one of the historic cases where the number of female
fighters who had voluntarily joined GAM was significantly large.
Overall, these cases highlight the pressing problem of violent
extremism and recruitment that persists in Indonesia. Reducing the
risk of violent extremism among at-risk youth and offenders in
Indonesia, is the only way towards a peaceful region.

Literature Review:


Conflict is natural, and may become a reason of mass killings,

upheavals as well as large-scale change. Conflict as defined in the
Oxford English dictionary is:
A situation in which people, groups or countries are involved in a serious
disagreement or argument. (www.oxforddictionaries.com)
This internship report highlights the reasons of conflicts, how conflict evolves into
terrorism, what are the causes of violent extremism, the triggers on why terrorism
and radical beliefs become the au riguer so quickly. It is also interesting to
observe how organizations such as Search Indonesia are helping in countering
the terrorist and violent extremism narrative by creating transformative dialogue,
youth empowerment and providing an alternate view on how to convert conflict
into positive changes.
It is important to view conflict as a neutral and natural part of life, with the belief
that conflict can be mitigated through various channels of dialogue, diplomacy
and addressing as well as acknowledging the needs and wants of all parties
involved. It is also important to keep in mind the life cycle of conflict, or the
conflict curve as it has been highlighted by Matthew Levinger in his book
Conflict Analysis: Understanding Causes, Unlocking solutions. Levinger says that
there merely outlining the various phases of conflicts is oversimplifying issues
that have many layers, sub contexts, life context threshold, and many other
trajectories as well as reversals and a strong possibility of re-escalation when a
conflict has been apparently resolved. (Conflict Analysis, pg. 30).
Levinger adds that conflict is a dynamic process with various moving pieces,
stakeholders, and key actors along with their own interests. It is extremely
important to pay attention to all such contexts, sub contexts as well as the grey
areas to successfully mitigate armed and violent conflict.
Many governments, and leaders work towards conflict prevention and using
strategies in potentially avoiding conflict, however, merely ignoring the issues and
sweeping them under the rug becomes more of a cause of conflict escalation,
rather then conflict prevention. With the arrival of modern warfare, globalization,


electronic media, and other tools that bring the world to your fingertips, the nature
of conflicts has also advanced; with this, ambiguity as well as multi state
complexities also comes to light.
Levinger has neatly outlined five main dimensions of conflict and how they can be
used to identify, prevent or mitigate conflict; they will be one of the tools I will be
using to identify and outline conflict in the Indonesian standpoint as well as using
them to describe and elaborate on the counter terrorism narrative. Brief
descriptions on how these dimensions will be utilized in the internship report are
described below.


The Strategic Dimension

The Political Dimension
The Socio Economic Dimension
The Psychological Dimension
The Cultural Dimension
(Conflict Analysis, Page 35- 54)

The Strategic Dimension: This dimension predominantly deals with issues of

security and power at an international level. This dimension in the Indonesian and
south east Asian context bears a lot of political and geographic weight as it deals
with not only neighboring countries, but also with the region as a whole. This
dimension is critical and crucial when talking about strategies as international
players, such as Australia and New Zealand have a lot of influences but also
have a lot at stake when dealing with issues of conflict, terrorism and violence.

The Political Dimension: This dimension deals with the subrogation of power at
national and sub national levels. This also identifies the key players, regions and
conflict hotbeds. Political dimensions are extremely important in understanding as
well as assisting in setting up policies and procedures. This dimension also
provides an in-depth insight on the political landscape and its importance in
dealing with local hubs of political power.


The Socioeconomic Dimension: The importance of money cannot be denied its

fair role in the creation, avoidance, or mitigation of conflict. The socioeconomic
elements are heavily influenced by ones ability to make money, afford a
comfortable lifestyle and to provide for ones family. Socioeconomic factors play
an elemental role in inter and intra state wars, as well as the control of natural
resources is also a key socioeconomic influence. The socioeconomic dimension
is very much in line with Maslows hierarchy of needs, where only if one level of
the needs are met can the progression to next level be achieved. This factor is
also responsible for highlighting stakeholders, or key actors responsible for
provoking conflict.
The Psychological Dimension: This dimension deals with the psychological
perspectives of all those involved in conflicts, highlights the reasons behind why
people react the way they do. This dimension also deals the perceptions on how
rival groups can turn barbaric and involve in behavior when faced with a conflict
situation. This dimension can be particularly helpful in identifying the various
elements of certain age groups (i.e. the youth) and their behavior when faced
with a violent conflict situation. I feel that this dimension is of extreme importance
as it looks at not just the tangible elements of conflict but also the subliminal and
more powerful forces that come into play.
The Cultural Dimension:
The cultural dimension talks about the ideological, religious as well as local
differences when discussing large scale conflicts. Religious and ideological
conflicts are oftentimes the driving factors behind mass violence as history has
been a witness to such events time and time again. Cultural dimension is
perhaps one of the most understated and under-reviewed when analyzing
conflicts and its causes. The concept of power hierarchies and its differences in
various cultures can relay a significant amount of information if interpreted

Difference between Conflict and Terrorism:


Conflict and Terrorism are two words that are sometimes used synonymously
however the differences between them are stark, though the lines where conflict
ends and terrorism begins can sometimes me muddied.
Bruce Hoffman talks about Terrorism in a completely altered light to what the
general perception of terrorism maybe. In his book Inside Terrorism, he discusses
that the history of terrorism comes from governments trying to use force or terror
to subdue its people, and strike fear amongst them.
He uses a political definition to explain the concept of terrorism better:
A system of terror.
Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in
A more generic definition of terrorism as given by the Oxford English Dictionary is
as follows:
A policy intended to strike with terror against whom it is adopted; the
employment methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of
being terrorized.

A Terrorist is defined as:

Anyone who attempts to further his views by a system of coercive intimidation;
specifically applied to members of one of the extreme revolutionary societies in
Whereas conflict is natural and can occur at any time and place, terrorism is
different as it outlines a strategy and premeditated intentions to carry out mass
scale carnage and chaos. However both these ideologies are rather intertwined
with each other. Conflict can lead to terrorism and vice versa. Terrorism may very
well result in conflict, as is fairly evident after the 9/11 attacks on United States.
One may also notice that due to the terrorist attacks and the subsequent wars on


terror, we are still very much in the throes of conflict, many of which seem to be
escalating as time progress.
The ideology behind terrorism has evolved over time, where first terrorism was
associated with governments trying to subdue their own people without their
wishes, to what the recent perception of terrorism is; A group of people using
arms, ammunitions and destruction to instill fear, cause large scale deaths to their
perceived enemies as well as becoming outlaws of society resulting in extreme
turmoil and struggles for others as well as the terrorist themselves. An interesting
find however has been the difficulty I have faced when conceptualizing terrorism,
as the media biases of today seems to skew all perceptions of terrorism by the
wayside. In a study conducted by David Rappaport he merges the old definition
of terrorism with a new one and outlines the concept of terrorism as below:
Terrorism is a politically motivated tactic involving the threat or use of
force or violence in which the pursuit of publicity plays a major role.
The recent cases of ISIS and its actions and policies for the Islamic caliphate is
extremely interesting, as it outlines how glorifying the religion and even the idea
of being a part of the Islamic caliphate seems to be very appealing to many
people. The videos and Internet channels that promote ISIS openly show
beheadings, as well as delivering a constant stream of indoctrination propaganda
to aggrandize the political power and flex its violent muscles to instill fear
amongst their enemies.
Terrorism and religion as unfortunate as it maybe have often become tantamount
when analyzing world conflict. With the likes of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the
Taliban with its various factions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the neighboring
regions, the radical attacks in France, ISIS in the middle east as well as various
militant Jihadi organizations have dragged religion into what they know is a very
touchy and petulant issues for many. However, it must be noted that in order to
understand terrorism and its root causes, one must understand the instigating
factors that help to create the brainwashed mentality that leads to large scale
acts of violence.


Most at risk individuals for being brainwashed are the youth between the ages of
16-25, who are constantly at threat for being used for purposes that are more
sinister than what meets the eye. During various interactions with the youth in
Indonesia a troubling discovery was made, where a lot of the radicalized youth,
found no hesitation that they would completely support Hamas, ISIS or even at
times Al-Qaida. Many wanted to go and live in countries like Syria so that they
could spread the message of Islam and work towards a peaceful afterlife.
The difference between radicalization and militancy can get blurry, as has been
witnessed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Indonesia to name a few. The
constant coaching about spreading the words of a religion as well glamorizing
such acts of terrorism and comparing them to martyrdom is a concept known to
all. The teachings in madrassas, the unionizing in universities and colleges as
well as various religious leaders spreading false information about religions all
leads to chaos, confusion and more destruction for the nave minds.
Effects of Radicalization on Youth
The effects of radicalization and brainwashing on youth can be catastrophic. As
we are seeing with the recruits who willingly join ISIS, from across the world, or
the young soldiers that had joined the Tamil Tigers, Al Qaeda, the Taliban has
presented generations of militancy and flawed mindsets, which leads to larger
communities and societies being affected for decades to come.
The need to have the youth understand the difference between terrorism, conflict
and faith is a strong one. In the recent United Nations AMMAN Youth Declaration
signed in Jordan earlier this year is a proof that the world is now shifting its views
from that of countering militancy with conflict, to countering militancy and
terrorism by educating and changing the mindsets of the youth. First hand
accounts of the Arab spring, show us the true power of the youth, where
supposedly infallible leaders like Hosseini Mubarak could not withstand the
pressure brought on by his own people.
Indonesia is no exception and has seen how influential and coercive the youth
can be. In 1998, the New Order was singlehandedly brought down by the young
university and college going students. Similarly youth has been responsible for


bringing large-scale changes during election times in Serbia, Georgia and

Slovakia (SAIS, 2006)
The importance of youth empowerment in regions like Indonesia is quite
staggering. With over 51% of its population comprising of youth between the
ages of 15-30 years old, most of who are Muslims, (87.3% of Indonesians are
Muslims). Though radicalization and Islam are not synonymous and I have no
desire to make them so, it is significant to keep in mind the factors that drive the
youth towards extreme radical mindsets.

The Need to engage youth in Peace, Security and

With the latest Amman declaration, and the emphasis on bringing youth at the
forefront of peace and diplomacy, one can safely assume, that the need for policy
development around the youth is necessary.
There is also a larger broader element of why youth are so much more effective
at peace building and bringing communities together. Also not to mention the fact
that raging testosterone can sometimes be used to defy logic and reason to do
what (the youth) may deem fit. In a finding by the Home Land Security Institute
(HSI,2012) they uncovered that out of the 42 Foreign Terrorist Groups working in
the world the recruitment of fighters and terrorists was based around school and
college going males.
In Indonesia the number of young men joining extremist organizations is rather
large, and the concept of radicalizations is something that has been imbedded in
society since the colonial era. The underlying reasons for such radical thoughts
are numerous, but a lot of them stem from the treatment that was received by the
people at the hands of the Dutch Monarchy.
Indonesia follows a strict interpretation of Wahhabism similar to that of the Middle
East and its practices mimic those from the days of the prophet. Due to this
similarity, Indonesia has consistently seen Islamic radicalization as early as the


1940s however; Soekarnos vision of a secular Indonesia repressed these

political views. Under Suharto religious suppression was worsened, with Islamic
radicals, punished and even imprisoned for holding radical religious beliefs.
Some modern radical organizations that have remained in the limelight since the
end of the New Order Era are the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (Council of
Indonesian Jihad Fighters), the Front Pembela Islam (Front of Islam Defenders),
the Jema'ah Islamiyah (Islamic Congregation and an Affiliate of Al-Qaeda) and
the (already disbanded) Laskar Jihad (Warriors of Jihad). Individually these
parties share to aspire for the application of sharia law, they share anti-western
sentiments and their members do not abstain from using forceful methods to
make their point known. The Jemaah Islami was behind the 2002 Bali Bombings
and other violent attacks on churches across the country.
Another item these fundamental organizations share is the Arab background of its
founders. Also each organization has a large number of college going students as
its members and the numbers are increasing at a rather significant pace. The
number of youth that have joined ISIS in the past three years has risen to over
600 people as of June 2015; by 2003 more than 200 recruits had worked for AL
Qaeda in Afghanistan, many of them under the age of 20.

Countering Violent Extremism:

Countering and rejecting a violent narrative must be fully explained to the youth in
order for the country to progress in a peaceful and enlightened direction.
Organizations such as Search for Common Ground have various programs in
place that allow for youth to start thinking along broader lines and realize that the
power for the future truly lies in initiating dialogue, using alternate means for the
betterment of the country, peace for the region and personal empowerment.
One of the projects that Search For Common Ground implemented over a
course of two years was identifying youth that had been exposed to
radicalization, and then coaching them to become visual artists, writers and film
directors. Their work was then showcased at a festival, which highlighted the
impact that was produced as a result of working with Search over the course of
time, as well as the new tools that they have acquired when faced with issues of


radicalization. This work however needs to be better implemented, not just by

NGOs but also by government organizations.

Learning Objectives:


The learning objectives for this internship was to understand the

role of International NGOs and the part they can play in building
peace across the globe. It was an interesting experience to say the
least, as where I had the opportunity to learn a lot of technicalities I
also learnt a lot on what not to do as a peace-building International
One of my main learning objectives was to see real time program
implementation, designing and drafting project proposals as well as
seeing how programs progress, change, and complete overtime.
Another key element for this internship was to view the large-scale
impact a program may have; as well as keeping in mind the actual
log frame outcomes and output measurements.
Another learning objective for this internship was seeing the
effectiveness of the countering violent narrative, whether the tools
used were effective in capturing the essence of reducing extremism
and whether it produced results that were in line with the initial
concept and idea. Countering Violent Extremism has been a hot
topic in Indonesia as the largest Muslim population faces many
challenges, coupled with an ever-increasing access to social media.
One of the main key aspects was to see the impact of the United
States Bureau of Counter Terrorisms program of Countering Violent
Extremism, as well as observing and monitoring the results of the
project, which spanned over two years.
One more element of this internship was to observe the success of
the various phases of reducing recidivism within the prison
facilities. Indonesian prison facilities have been seen as a terrorist
breeding ground, and a lot of efforts have been made by
governments of Australia and New Zealand to curb extremism
indoctrination within the high-risk prison facilities. Search Indonesia
is currently in phase 4 of a program supported by the New Zealand


Foreign Ministry to ensure that recidivism is reduced and that

imprison terrorist trainings are eliminated. The New Zealand
ministry has asked to conduct several exercises aimed at mitigating
conflict within the prison facilities, as well as training staff on how to
effectively deal with conflict situations arising from scuffles with the
terrorist inmates. One of Indonesias most notorious criminals who
has been charged with the Bali bombing Abu Bakar Bayaasir is at a
maximum security prison facility; despite the Indonesian
Governments many efforts to keep Abu Bakars messages off the
streets as well as the internet, they still somehow manage to make
it to ISIS and extremist supporters much to the chagrin of the New
Zealand government as well as the Australian government.
The Indonesian government has taken measures to curb and
counter terrorist recruitment, by forming a special task force called
Densus 88, which directly targets terrorist hotbeds in areas such as
Poso and Aceh. Over the past two years this task force has been
extremely effective in capturing terrorists or those that are seen as
a threat to national as well as regional security.
As the programs have progressed however the impact of such
programs implemented has become increasingly questionable,
where conflict management trainings for prison staff is required, it
only seems to take place with donor funding and the Indonesian
government doesnt seem to have budget allocation to make it a
part of the long term strategic planning. Looking at the training
schedule of once every 5 months, programs can hardly be expected
to make a lasting impact. One of the main lessons I learnt was that
in order to effectively operate in a country an NGO must keep its
overhead and administration cost within the 25-30% range as well
as allocating majority of the funds towards program implementation.
Maximum outreach and impact can only come from operating as a
localized NGO.


The internship report was based on qualitative research, combining
reading materials provided during lectures with Indonesian policies
and news narratives. I also spent many hours at the Central Jakarta
Library to comb through books and historical data on the various
conflicts that happened in Aceh, Papua, East Timor etc. I also
conducted research by holding informal interviews with the students
and participants who had partaken in the countering violent
extremism program. I additionally held many hours of political
debate sessions with my co-workers on their ideologies and political
thought patterns when it came to military dictatorships and what it
means to have a vision of a country they would like to be a part of.
One of the most important questions that I felt which brought up a
lot of emotion from people was what kind of country would you want
to leave for your children. Informal interviews and political dialogue
sessions gave me a lot of insight on how people felt, their emotions
as well as their passions towards making a change in society,
something that is often missing in desk research. In addition to
working on this internship report I also assisted in drafting
proposals, outlining activities, setting up reflection meetings as well
as conducting psychological testing for participants in the
Countering Violent Extremism program.


Presentation of the Findings:

During this internship learning the Indonesian context and reflecting
on the findings was a very interesting experience. After analyzing
the various dimensions of conflict using Levingers conflict analysis
method, what emerged was a very complex country with its very
own regional, national and international set of problems, coupled
with religious fanaticism, lack of education, rampant poverty and a
poor institutional infrastructure which was directly a result of
colonization as well as many years of military dictatorship.

Levingers conflict Analysis:

The strategic as well as political dimension in the Indonesian context
is rather large and very intriguiging, with the various levels of
complexities adding to the already geographical advantageous
location. In a report published by Carnegie Endowment for Peace
they clearly identify Indonesias need for regional strategic and
political development, with an emphasis on determining a long-term
vision and mission. They state that Indonesias future is largely
dependent on its ability to shape its own regional strategic
environment, in what is a rapidly evolving global picture. It must
also work with its neighbors and provide complete coordination
when it comes to politics, economy as well as security, in order to
strengthen the region as a whole. Identifying and aligning all
aspects of policy decisions based on a holistic and overarching view
in the face of dynamic changes is going to be long lasting and its
ramifications could have many impacts for decades to comes. At
this point in time where Indonesia is spreading its wings to much
larger forefronts and trying to maintain, stabilize, reduce poverty
and develop its country to bring it up to international standards; it
must curb and keep conflict to a minimum; it must also not be seen

as a instigator or a supporter of conflict whether at home or abroad.

It must also ensure that human rights policies are not being violated
and that all ethnic minorities are well protected and taken care of.
Because the Indonesian president has the ability as well as flexibility
in picking and choosing foreign relations, it must carefully partner
and ally with those that are of the same vision and mission.
For Australia, Indonesia was merely a developing country, that they
never really paid that much attention to, until the Second World
War, when Japan invaded and seized the land from the Dutch. They
then went on to attack Australia from the close proximity of its
islands. However, for many years after, Indonesia really was not in
a place of instigating conflict or being of threat to the Australian
continent, mainly due to its impoverished economy and lacking
military infrastructure.
However this started shifting under the rule of Suharto, when he
replaced Sukarnos pluralistic views with that of National caution. He
also started developing strong ties with other ASEAN Countries,
further putting Australia on notice. When Australia supported the
creation of Malaysia, Sukarno as it has been widely reported was
ready for war with their enemies. Also, Australias role in East Timor
as well as Papua has not done them any favors in terms of gaining
Indonesias confidence. Perhaps one of the reasons why peace has
been kept in the region is due to the fairly mediocre sized military
and tactical weapons.

One of Australias leading policy writers and political think tanks

talks about Australias strategic relationship as an important one.
This excerpt emphasizes one of Australias strategic motivations
towards the country:


However that is not to say that Australia has had a tempestuous
relationship with Indonesia, but has maintained a widely peaceful
and cordial relationship with its neighbor. However, Indonesia has
often accused Australia of displaying white supremacy views and
ideologies. With the recent rise in extremism and pro fundamentalist
ideologies, Australia has accused Indonesia for not doing enough to
curb such fanatic views. A detailed table outline of Australias
strategic policies is provided in Appendix A. Despite its ups and
down Australian-Indonesian policy agrees on the general support of
US policies in the Pacific region.

New Zealand:
During my internship term, I saw that New Zealand had an
increased interest in the political, as well as economic interest in
Indonesia and its capacity building measures. Undoubtedly the close
proximity of Indonesia and its vast expansive region is of interest to
any country looking for not only survival but also envisioning the
future and future needs. Given the fact that New Zealand has
recognized the strategic importance of Indonesias archipelago and
its large natural resources base, and an economy that grows every
year in population by about the size of New Zealand itself, is a


testament to New Zealands growing dependency on Indonesia and

her foreign policies. (NZIBF, 2012)
Both countries are members of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) and are looking to extend and strengthen economic as
well as political ties with each other. One of the key elements to
remember is the fact that the close proximity and the predominantly
white population of New Zealand almost automatically identify itself
with western countries such as USA, UK and Canada.
Due to the obvious issues associated with race and religion, New
Zealand must feel an imperative need to see how the strategies
unfold over the next few years as well as keeping a very close eye
on how the political, economic and social dimensions evolve
overtime. To address this concern New Zealand has significantly
increased its funding to the Global Security Fund, as per the deputy
mission of New Zealand to Indonesia over 40% of the funding from
new Zealand goes to Indonesia. They are mainly concerned with
curbing radicalization, as well as changing perceptions and mindsets
of the radicalized people, and working towards countering youth
violence and extremism. New Zealand has also been a constant
donor for the department of corrections (Department of Prison
Facilities) specifically focusing on extremist prisoner rehabilitation as
well as strengthening the parole system.

The foreign policy plan for any state head is continuously formed, by
the necessity to safeguard the country's dynamic interest and state
autonomy from external pressures. In an ever-changing geostrategic
setting, the peripheral risks facing Indonesia can be estimated to be
numerous as well as multifaceted; the same also goes for the other


countries part of the ASEAN region. Since Indonesias large

population and an every growing economy its a country that can no
longer be ignored. The close juxtaposition of various ASEAN
countries is a key element in determining strategies especially when
it comes to regional conflict. Given the fact that the relationship
between Indonesia and Malaysia has remained quite tricky to
maneuver, deep cultural biases as well as the political history adds
to the already contentious relationship.

United States Of America And China:

The United States of America and Indonesia have always shared a
close relationship despite the obvious geographical divide. The
military ruler Suharto shared close relations with Washington D.C.
and the military establishment in the United States. Many as the
Pivot to Asia knew Indonesias presence in the political sphere in DC.
Historically Indonesia has always remained an ally for the United
States, and perhaps it is one of the main reasons why a 1997 ban
for United States to engage with any military or governments that
were involved with human rights violations and genocide was lifted
in July 2010. (Future Directions, 2014) Suharto using his presidential
powers in 1980 allowed for private companies to become a major
supplier for military needs. More recently changes in embargo
relations, the pressure from US mission in Indonesia coupled with
Indonesias ambitious plans for procurement of military warfare
including submarines, fighter jets and specialty combat US Defense
contracting companies such as Raytheon and Northrup Grumman is
duly fulfilling equipment. In a recent drive around Jakarta, a very
large Lockheed Martin building have sprung up, indisputably a result
of the lax regulations and the more recent coming out party of the
Indonesian military as a major supplier for ammunition and military
equipment to the ASEAN region. (NY Times, 2014)


Understandably the relations between Indonesia and China have

always been at odds, chinas close proximity to Indonesia has
always been somewhat of a thorn in Indonesias side but even more
so a more uncomfortable topic for the United States. However the
tightrope walking of Sino-Indo relations may have had a
breakthrough with the signing of the Bali 2013 APEC treaty,
Indonesia being a leader in the ASEAN community as well as being a
member of the world G20.
More recently however, China has had ambitious military plan and
has flexed its military muscles by conducting military exercises in
the Lombok Strait, a narrow passageway between the Java Sea and
the Indian Ocean. Political analysts have talked about this 5-day
exercise as a potential warning to international community by china
to show that it can extend its military power well beyond its own
borders and water boundaries. (FDI, 2014) Also the close links
between Chinese military and the East Timorese government has
been raising a few eyebrows in Jakarta. President Jokowi has on
numerous occasions expressed his displeasure on said exchanges
between the two governments.
Indonesia in return has extended its foreign relations including
economic ties to Japan to counter balance the Chinese upper hand.
Japan on the other hand is only too happy to partner with a country
as large as Indonesia to help deflect certain issues created by China.
Given the heavy presence of United States in Japan, it only seems
natural that both countries decide to forge closer ties with United
States providing a foreign policy umbrella for both parties to work
India and South Asia:


Jakarta and New Delhi have always enjoyed a close relationship due
to their closeness in culture, history and political motives. As India
becomes Indonesias third largest ASEAN trading partner, it places a
greater emphasis on such strategic relations to prosper. In 2005
Indonesia and India signed a strategic partnership agreement,
where both sides agreed to work on Economics, Security, Regional
Cooperation and Diplomacy. Though the trade between the two
countries has been increasing, it is still fairly limited to a few
extractive industries such as coal and palm oil. To make matters
worst, in terms of strategic partnerships there are still no direct
flights between the two countries.
Also India has kept a close eye on the conflict on the ground in
Indonesia, specifically due to its closeness of the Aceh province with
the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Both countries have signed a
joint cooperation agreement in 2001, but the implementation of
such an agreement has been slow to take off, and both countries
still deal with internal sensitivities as well as lack of confidence to
open up their military facilities to each other.
Other countries in the South Asian region also share close ties with
Indonesia, mainly due to the similarities in religion such as Pakistan.
However, more recently these relations have been soured by
numerous accusations of breach of trust, more recently the
Indonesian ambassador and his wife were killed in a helicopter crash
in the Northwestern Region of Pakistan, it has become exceedingly
difficult for business people to obtain visas to conduct business in
Indonesia and in Pakistan. Also Jakarta has repeatedly accused
Islamabad for not doing enough for closing the passageway for ISIS
fighters from Indonesia to Syria.
Strategically as a budding Indo-Pacific power, Indonesia has the
luxury to further its ability to form strong alliances across numerous


countries in the world regardless of the geographic limitations.

Though the current fundamentalist uprising must be curbed in order
for Indonesia to progress forwards in terms of not only future
developments, but also with being more resilient and capable when
dealing with foreign policy issues. World leaders and large nations
will welcome a more pluralistic society closer to the vision of
Soekarno alike.
Internally, however, Indonesia still has many political forefronts that
it needs to pay attention to. The needs of Religious minorities must
be given importance. Recently, the Ahmadiya community was not
given enough protection to perform their religious prayers, despite
the fact that president Widodo has made repeated promises to
protect the right of the ethnic minorities as well as providing a
pluralistic Indonesia. Those promises are yet to be fulfilled, certain
minorities are finding it increasingly difficult to practice freedom of
religion depending on what area they reside in. This is also
triggering religious intolerance between communities and religious
sects, which must be countered in order for Indonesia to move and
progress forward.
The Socio Economic Dimension for Indonesia is ever changing
and evolving and that too at an exceedingly fast pace. Currently
Indonesias GDP is at 888.9 Billion dollars according to the World
Bank and has a population of just over 260 million people. Though
Indonesia can be classified as a middle class income generating
society, it is somewhat misleading, as many people especially those
living in the rural areas live below $2 a day. Also to make matters
worse the financial crises in 1997 saw a complete devaluation of its
currency. As it goes with any developing country the issues in
government are large with rampant corruption as well as the divide
between the elite and working class grows day by day. Despite
Indonesias economy expanding with record number of external


investments and trades happening, it still doesnt change the plight

of the people fast enough.
During one of my interviews with an organization that deals with
street children, the head of the organization told me that many
youth are unable to find work and support their families, which is
one of the main reasons, they join fundamentalist organizations as
they provide them with money, as well as a sense of purpose.
According to Wahid Trust which is a large Islamic NGO working all
over Indonesia and deals with issues of radicalization and
fundamentalism says that over 62% of radicalized individuals had
joined organizations such as the Jamaah-e-Islam because they
provided their recruits with cash incentives. A psychological writer
Martha Crenshaw differentiated between the causes and catalysts
for conflict or terrorism. (1981) She says that Socio Economic
conditions are a major root cause of conflict and if enough
compensation is provided people will generally gravitate towards
acts that are violent in nature.
The causal effects are deeply imbedded and have constant effects,
when combined with catalytic events such as a riot breaking out, or
when ones religion is allegedly being threatened, leads to complete
change in perception as well as attitude towards communities,
peoples or nations. This is something that has been seen over and
over again, we are currently experiencing something similar with the
Assad regime in Syria, where the Ahluwites denied the rights of the
general Syrian population, which caused this all-encompassing rise
of the Islamic State. The Indonesian government is constantly
coming up with media campaigns to deter people from joining ISIS
as well as reporting people who are recruiting from such
organizations. (A few pictures are provided in Appendix B). The
Indonesian population has seen its fair share of socio economic
hardships, which to this day continue for many people. During my


internship I visited several localities where the standard and

conditions of living were well below that of the mandated
international standards.
Societal factors are also a large contributor behind individuals
actions or their groups that they join. We have seen with Youth
movements across the globe as a great example, for how powerful
one communitys action could be. The massacre at Tianmen Square
is a grizzly reminder of the resistance put forth by the youth, though
the results may not have been what was intended, but it did show
the world Chinas reluctance to be a part of global politics and that
they would do anything to preserve what they deem appropriate.
Indonesia is no stranger to youth movements and there have been
many instances where such movements have been extremely
successful. In 1998 the youth was a major contributor towards
bringing the Suharto Regime to an end, as well as promoting the
independence of East Timor.
The prominence of Youth in independence movements has been
significant in the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) where the majority of
the Acehnese Rebels consisted of young people from the
Archipelago, and their sole focus was to be free of the New Order
Regime. Many fighters volunteered to be a part of GAM without any
external influences or pressures and constantly fought against the
DOM status given to Aceh. (Talking to Terrorists, 2014) In 1999 it
was the youth movement that had mobilized the referendum for
Aceh as a separate country. Though the GAM had been crushed but
it still remains as a monument of resilience and a reminder of the
power of the people for the rest of Indonesia.
Cultural and Psychological Dimension:


In Indonesia there is a large emphasis on culture and cultural

values, given the fact that the entire archipelago, shares many
different identities it adds to the already complex issues present
within the country. Adding to this is the fall out of the Suharto
policies of moving Muslims of Javanese origin to mainly rural
indigenous areas has caused many long-term disputes, racial
discrimination and biases. In 1998, there was a widespread issue
with the Indo-Chinese population, where the Chinese population is
generally culturally more economically inclined and has benefited
from the economic policies of Indonesia.
This has been a major cause of contention for many of the
Indonesian people, and the remnants of animosity still persist.
Communal conflicts are common in Indonesia where the emphasis
has largely been on religion and ethnicities. Examples of these are
far and wide and seem to be a regular occurrence; Christians,
Hindus, Muslims and Dayaks have all been at one point or the other
partaken in the communal riots. As times have progressed the
intensity of violence has somewhat reduced, but still the threat still
lingers on. In 2001 the Dayaks in West Kalimantan clashed with
Muslim leading to scores being killed. In 1999 clashes in Ambon led
to death of a few hundred Christians and Muslims alike. (Asia Times,
Similar issues are faced by provinces that have unequal balance of
religions such as Papua and Sulawesi, the former being densely
populated by Christians and the latter by Muslims. Conflict seems to
erupt without notice and tends to last for days with many lives being
lost. Recently in July 2015, a small riot broke out in Papua on the day
of Eid ul Fitr, with one place of worship for Muslims, several food
stalls and street vendors being burnt down. (Jakarta Post, July 2015).


Even more recently on 16 October 2015 the burning of churches in

the Province of Aceh has become a cause for concern for many as
the local radicals are using a loophole in the system to demolish
churches and Christian places of worship. Over 2500 people have
left Aceh and are migrating towards other provinces nearby, mainly
scared with the threat of communal conflict and violence as well as
the governments inability to stop such actions from taking place.
More than a dozen churches have been demolished; the local
council has remained action less citing limitations with the law and
the provinces ability to enforce Sharia law, due to Aceh having a
special provincial authority and autonomy.
Even more troubling is the fact that the demolition work is being
carried out by the local authorities citing lack of building permits.
Military support has been provided to the local council to carry such
actions. Christian parishioners are forced to remain silent and
becoming an onlooker as their places of worship get torn apart.
(BBC News, October 2015) Another disconcerting fact is that the
movement, which started this chain reaction, was led by a group
calling themselves the Aceh Youth Concerned for Islam, who held
various demonstrations and protests to pressurize authorities to
take action on tearing these places of worship down. Also most of
the participants in this movement were between the ages of 16-28.
(BBC News, October 2015)
The question then becomes why is it that the youth in this day and
age are being exploited and why is the government actually giving
in to their demands. Upon closer analysis it would seem that the
youth in Indonesia lack direction; along with the governments
reluctance to start another GAM movement especially where Aceh is
concerned. The Indonesian government knows the power and the
ability of the youth, which leads to reluctance as well as a means for
avoiding potential conflict.


Psychologically this poses an important issue for the need of

belonging as well as having a group identity. It would seem that the
youth have become extremely motivated to join organizations such
as ISIS, by following in the footsteps of their predecessors, in a
recent press release by the Institute of International Policy Analysis
of Conflict based in Jakarta it was confirmed that the son of the
convicted Bali bomber Imam Samudra had been killed while fighting
in Syria. Omar Abdul Azis was the second generation of the Jihadis
coming from Indonesia with the sole purpose of forming an Islamic
Caliphate. (Jakarta Post, October 2015).
As authorities have been trying to uncover the various Indonesian
fighters who have joined ISIS, at least four other young men who are
sons of well known terrorists have joined ISIS with the sole purpose
of following a legacy as well as creating identity for themselves and
their children for generations to come. Various images that have
sprung up on the internet show young children, being posed with
ISIS flags and paraphernalia with tag lines of ISIS support till the end
show the Indonesian peoples complete willingness to join any group
that gives them a sense of identity and belonging. (Pictures are
attached in Appendix B)
The interesting notion however is that the large number of ISIS
supporters from Indonesia as well as ISIS fighters is nearly tripled to
that of the support that was previously given to Al-Qaeda and the
Taliban. Undoubtedly the mechanism for ISIS recruitment providing a
notion of the caliphate seems to be working in the favor of ISIS
Countering Violent Extremism and the Importance of Youth
in Violent Conflict:


During this internship striking examples of how the youth can be led
by violence was extremely intriguing to watch. Speaking with the
few participants that were part of the Countering Violent Extremism
group, they talked about how innocently it all starts, and with the
constant brainwashing, things can get hairy very quickly. With
Indonesias sense of a weak nationhood (IPAC, 2014) it is fairly easy
to deter the youth from one path to another. With the military
forcing its own agendas the young men and women seem to be
without a leader who can guide them on the correct path. Many
young men that have joined extremist organizations have done so
because it gives them sense of morality as well as an identity, as
discussed previously.
Talking to one young person who was approached and somewhat
radicalized by the ISIS recruiters, he elaborated on what a surreal
experience it had been for him barely managing to escape the
recruitment process of ISIS. It started off with a fairly brief
conversation about the purpose of life, which then went deeper into
the purpose of human beings as Muslims and the west trying to
corrupt their minds. The recruiter who was asked me to called
Imam or a religious scholar, then promised him money, a passport
and a ticket to make it to Afghanistan, from there a handler, would
then take him to Uzbekistan and so forth. The example of ISIS
recruitment are many, where even street youth and women are
asked to join this organization all in the name of the religion.
Indonesia is a very fascinating country to observe when it comes to
violent extremism, though extremely pluralistic in many areas, the
hotbeds of fanaticism can put certain extremely conservative areas
of Afghanistan and Pakistan to shame. Youth movements are highly
influential and the youth seem to know and use their power through
violent means whenever they consider appropriate.










Indonesia. Indonesia is the fourth largest user of Twitter and

Facebook in the world, with about 73 million people having access to
the Internet. Jakarta, the capital, is the worlds most active city in
terms of Twitter users. (Forbes, July 2015) All this information
suggests that Indonesians susceptible to recruitment are at risk of
being heavily targeted through social media campaigns towards
violent extremism. At the very least, they are a large demographic
that can be easily targeted by extremist recruiters. The recent influx
of high quality and professionally designed videos of ISIS featuring
Indonesian fighters emerging on social media exacerbates the given
concerns. This past July, ISIS footage emerged that featured
Indonesians waving the ISIS flag chanting let us begin in Bahasa
Indonesian, the first such video featuring Indonesian fighters - a fact
that the Indonesian government had been incessantly moderating in
the public sphere.
This video is further complicated by the release of a dossier by the
Australian Government on the growing number of extremists within
Indonesia. This added to the already growing concerns that the
Australian government has had about Indonesias deeper ties to
extremist organizations than previously thought. This dossier also
talked about two commercial pilots that have been posting content
which shows them interacting with other suspected terrorists as well
as sharing other ISIS related paraphernalia. One of the pilots is a
former employee of Air Asia while the other was an Indonesian pilot
for the navy as well as an employee of the national carrier, Garuda
Airlines. It is clear that social media platforms such as Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube can be effective tools for extremists to spread
messages of hate. Hardcore extremists such as Abu Bakar Baasyir,
the leader of Jamaah Asharut Tauhid, have managed to post content
on social media depicting ISIS flags from within their maximumsecurity prison cells. (FT, August 2015)


Director of IPAC Sidney Jones has taken this matter seriously and
says If this is one unit, in one city then it may be higher than I
thought, referring to the number of Indonesians actively joining the
fight in Syria. Jones continues to say, It wouldnt take more than
two or three of them to come back and get a little unit into shape to
do something more dangerous than we have had in the past 10
Self-radicalization is a growing concern and problem that Indonesia
is beginning to address. Violent extremist youth and groups such as
Jamaah Islamiyah, Jamaah Ansyarud Tauhid and Tauhid Wal Jihad are
becoming a breeding ground for such individuals who seek
freedom through extreme actions coupled with religion.


increasing use of social media has become their number one tool for
such indoctrination. If Indonesia and its government are not careful
on identifying the weak links, as well as breaking the chain of
recruitment, they may very well become the worlds worst case
study on the use of social media as a tool for extremist recruitment.
(Institute of Opinion, July 2014)
Not only has there has been no systematic efforts that have been
made either by various civil society organizations or by the
government to identify and challenge these groups, but there also
has been no policy framework in place to breakup the already
ingrained social media campaigns targeting the at-risk youth
population. The Indonesian government needs to invest and put
greater thought into countering terrorism online if Indonesia is
serious about combatting the growing concern that Indonesia will be
heavily targeted for extremist recruitment. (Institute of Opinion, July
Overall, these cases highlight the pressing problem of violent
extremism and recruitment that persists in Indonesia. By reducing
the risk of violent extremism among at-risk youth and offenders in


Indonesia, giving a direction as well as means to move forward is

the only option for Indonesia to not be smeared with a reputation of
a nation that is a breeding ground of radicalization and terrorism.

Challenges Faced:
During my four months internship, the word that can describe my
experience at Search would be best suited is a paradox. Whereas I
got a chance to learn a lot of valuable insight about Indonesia, its
political, geographical and economic significance; very little actually
came from the organization itself.
Challenges with Leadership: The initial two months of the
internship felt somewhat similar to that of an authoritarian regime,
where staff members were constantly scared and worried for
speaking or even giving opinions on day-to-day matters. As
someone who has had significant managerial experience, it didnt
take long for me to figure out that the dysfunction was a top down
managerial issue.
Due to the large number of female staff and the nature of the
passive and demure Indonesians, it was at times painful to watch
the chain of events unfolding on a day-to-day basis. The irony was
that this organization and more specifically the country director
constantly emphasized the importance of conflict resolution through
dialogue and the power of transformative peace building, where as
the ground reality was significantly different and completely
contrary to the organizations vision and missions.
After the country directors departure a leadership vacuum
transpired, , where no programs made progress, I being an intern
pushed the program department on submitting proposals to various


donor organizations and was constantly met with resistance for

submitting said proposals, surprisingly from the director of
programs! However with my persuasion, the program team
managed to submit the largest proposal to USAID in the history of
SFCG Indonesia amounting to just a little over 8.4 Million USD. Also
there are no clear guidelines for people willing to intern with this
organization, the workload is haphazard and the job descriptions are
not catered to the qualifications of the people working in Jakarta.
But in order to be completely fair and remain impartial, I must admit
that the interim country director did prove what strong leaders are
capable of. The Interim Country Director has managed to localize
Search in his country of Operation and he leads by example that I
found to be fascinating and very enjoyable.
Low impact program implementation: On the surface level, the
programs seemed to be doing what they were set out to do,
however, on a deeper analysis of the program outcomes and
impacts, it became fairly evident that this organization either lacked
the vision, or simply didnt care about the larger impact of their low
impact programs. During one project that I worked on the
international donor did not want to give funding specifically because
the Head Quarters administration costs were higher than the
country office, in the end, the budgets for the local offices had to be
slashed, with the program quality and timeline being cut short
drastically. This is not my idea of development and certainly not my
idea of conflict resolution. The low impact programs, mainly due to
limited budgets and exorbitant fees are hardly transforming conflict,
reducing recidivism and promoting cohesion.
One of the critical lessons I have learnt is that International NGOs
can work a clean shop should they choose to do so, they can also
try and implement better training mechanisms for leadership roles
such as that of a Country Director and Director of Programs.


Perhaps internal conflict mitigation training sessions on a periodic

basis will greatly help in understanding how to deal with conflict
within organizations.
To sum up my experience working at Search for Common Ground,
analyzing the program impacts (or lack thereof); my frustrations
with administration costs can be summarized by these two cartoons
given below.

To sum up this internship, masters program, thesis and putting into
action my experiences not only in Indonesia, but also observing the


general global trends across the world has been somewhat of an

interesting and at times overwhelming experience. The stark
differences in culture between the United States and Indonesia can
be frightening at times, but once you start looking deeper at the
formation of both countries, their political as well as socio economic
patterns, similarities do emerge.
In Indonesia, the military dictatorship has held the center stage
when running a country, Suharto ruled with an iron fist and was
quick and eager to dismantle any enemies that came in his way.
However the Indonesian people where they may lack a sense of
nationhood do have a very strong sense of belonging to their
specific regions. It is this very aspect that has been a cause of many
conflict in the region as was seen in Aceh, Papua, West Kalimantan
and the main reason for the independence of East Timor. With the
youth forming as the largest part of the population as well as being
politically active it has become impertinent to pay close attention to
their needs. Envisioning a strong future for the youth is also
beneficial for any country, particularly a country as large as
The rise in fundamentalism and radicalization is a grave cause for
concern for not only Indonesia but also for many other countries,
being the largest Muslim nation, Indonesia has always enjoyed a
sense of pluralism with 5 main recognized religions, with each
enjoying the ability to practice with freedom. This has also enabled
the country to appreciate foreign relations, have a healthy tourism
industry as well as being seen as a moderate Muslim country.
However, recent clashes between religions have raised eyebrows
within the political and religious arena. The Wahid Institute has sent
out many publications for the Indonesian youth to respect each
other as human beings and fellow citizens instead of looking at


other in terms of their religion. Search has also launched a new

project with the aid provided by the Norwegian Government called
Protection of Holy Sites, which is aimed at emphasizing the
importance of cohesiveness while attempting to build a strong sense
of nationhood.
It is essential that Indonesian government as well as the Indonesian
people come together as one, defy and eradicate radicalization in
order to move forward and progress in this ever changing and
constantly evolving global world.
In 2011, the Indonesian governments terrorism prevention unit
came out with a strategic policy plan that emphasized the need to
enhance early detection mechanisms and laid out four main
objectives which they hoped to achieve by 2014, the target of
reaching these goals was set at 80%, however the implementation
of these policies outlined below has been significantly less than
what was initially anticipated (BNPT, 2011). These are the four main
objectives as outlined by the government:

Raising awareness and vigilance through dissemination of

information, training and anti-terrorist propaganda;

Protecting vital objects, residential areas and public places

from acts of terrorism;

Reducing radical ideology and propaganda
Preventing communities from being influenced by radical
ideologies and persuading convicted terrorists, their
families and networks to disengage from terrorism.

The problem with this strategic plan was that there were no clear
guidelines on how this would be achieved. Government outreach
was only limited to print and media campaigns, but as it became

evidently clear by 2013 that not enough was being achieved and the
goals were not being met by far and wide margins, the government
decided to formulate a body within the government which would
allows for NGOs as well as Civil Society Organizations to partake in
peace building and dialogue processes to enhance the prevention as
well as strengthen early detection mechanisms for radicalization of
Indonesian people specifically the youth. With the formation of the
FKPT (terrorism prevention coordination forums) has allowed for
many Civil Society Organizations such as Search to step forward and
start working towards building relationships on a grass roots level.
The main goal, which has yet to be achieved, is to create a standard
methodology for the entire country that can then be applied across
the archipelago enabling citizens to unite for a specific purpose.
Though the idea on the face of it seems noble and worthy of
expansion, one must understand that Indonesia with its vast land
and thousands of tribes and cultures cannot be fit into a one size fits
all. The use of CSOs and NGOs is a useful tool in determining all
levels of societies are reached, however, the government needs to
ensure that the programs and project funding handed out by the
donors are effectively making an impact.
Youth Deradicalization:
When dealing with Youth and violent extremism one of the main
elements to keep in mind is to be able to deal with the youth on
their level or intellect as well as allowing them to pursue their
energies in a manner that is beneficial for their highest good. One of
the ways that youth engagement can be highly effective is by
promoting youth ambassadors and peace leaders, that understand
the concept of global peace building, are familiar with the issues of
the geographic regions they are presenting, as well as looking at the
conflict by a multi faceted lenses.


The CSOs and NGOs must ensure that when they are training such
youth ambassadors that special care is given to each region, where
the problems and cultures are defined and highlighted. The
solutions are not a generalized means of discussing and promoting
peace, rather are very much localized to have maximum impact.
Also, providing such trainers the ability and means to handle
difficult issues and allow them to have a to-go mentoring person
who can help in bridging gaps.
It is also essential that when talks of youth deradicalization are
taking places that the youth has an alternate means of keeping
themselves occupied in order to ensure that an empty mind does
not become a devils playground so to speak. Another important
element to implement when involving multi-stakeholder dialogue is
the ability to facilitate many cultures and points of view with ease
and seamlessness.
That is not to say that when dialogues take place that conflict will
not occur, as that would be unnatural, however the case on point is
to make the youth understand the importance of learning how to
deal with conflict in a positive and transformative manner. Another
important element to emphasize is the idea that conflict not always
negative, as those experiences can lead us to have a deeper
understanding of not only ourselves but also of the society around
us. The importance of Alternate Dispute Resolution must be
emphasized with great vehemence and a lot more resources as well
as training is required for the Indonesian government and its people
to ensure that the next generation understand the various methods
available to them for resolving a conflict scenario.
Another important point is the idea of raising consciousness of the
masses, making them understand that the only way forward for a
harmonious planet is through cohesion, sustainable development


and getting in touch with ones own purpose and higher self. This can
be easily achieved if the youth are guided to meditate, involve in
creative activities such as arts, community development and
One of my biggest recommendations to the Indonesian government
as well as to Search For Common Ground would be to develop their
creative programs further, where each individual is allowed to fully
express their creative selves in a manner they deem fit. During my
internship Search had held a Festival called CiptaDamai in which the
students who were formerly part of radical groups had focused their
energies on coming up with visual and graphic arts projects. This
was a great festival to experience, however, the outreach for such
students was minimal and the results for this festival were
mediocre. Similar projects focusing on many different facets of arts
need to be explored, including, music, theatre and radio. This should
be combined with making the new generation understand the
importance of Ahimsa or Non-Violence. Combining arts with spiritual
learning is the only way of the future where human beings develop
empathy for themselves as well as understanding that violence does
not lead to a peaceful ending.
Next Steps:
In the immediate future, the Indonesian government has to find a
way of countering violent extremism and radical recruitment via
social media. With such a large population of youngsters constantly
hooked on to their phones and social media sites this threat is very
much real. Indonesia has passed various laws and has a system in
place for monitoring websites, however, the advancements in
technology have not caught up with the government just yet. CSOs
and NGOs also need to have counter campaigns (as have been
done by various countries for ISIS) to let teenage and young adults


know the damage that can be caused by extremist recruitment and

Where social media is a tool for mass scale outreach it is also a very
effective means of spreading the message of peace. Indonesian
government in conjunction with Civil Society Organization and
NGOs can effectively come up with various methods and programs,
which allows for promoting non-violence campaign, promoting
projects that are captivating and enhance the youth by creative
Social Media and creative peace-building techniques are truly the
way of the future and if Indonesia wants to be seen as a peace
loving, pluralistic country, then it must engage in multi lateral
approaches such as dialogue, media and community building to
achieve systemic and long term change. It must also include a
means of changing perceptions as well as attitudes to ensure
sustainable results and lasting impacts.
Appendix A


Appendix B:



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