The Terrorist Whisperer
Indonesia is on edge. The threat of terrorism is on the rise with ISIS’s influence growing. In 2016, 170 terror suspects were arrested or killed, more than double the number from the previous year. Jihad has arrived in Asia and Indonesia is ground zero.
The past few years has seen the rise of Islamist hardliners in Indonesia leading to violent protests on the streets. International militant jihadists like ISIS are looking to capitalize on the situation, making Indonesia a potential recruiting ground with over 200 million Muslims. Local militant groups have been connected to international terror networks. As a critical ground for the fight against terrorism, what happens in Indonesia will have repercussions for the rest of the world. While the Indonesian government has been proactive in capturing terrorists after a terror attack has been committed, little attention is being paid to what happens once they are sent to prison and what happens after they are released. The streets are now battlegrounds but it is the prisons that have become breeding grounds for radicalization. Many inmates are released before their original sentence has been fully served.
The recent attacks in the capital city of Jakarta on January 2016 involved two men, Bahrum Naim and Afif Sunakim. They had both served time in prison but were not deradicalized. They were released, and soon after, committed another deadly terror attack. Indonesia is releasing dangerous terror suspects back into society without knowing if they are still a threat to the public – and the consequences have been fatal.
Our story aims to give viewers an insider’s look into the efforts that are being undertaken to solve that problem. We go into the never-before-seen world of terrorist rehabilitation in Indonesia as we follow the work of Noor Huda Ismail and his team from the Institute of International Peace Building – a diverse group of academics, activists and former terrorists who are all dedicating their lives to deradicalizing extremists.
If Huda’s methods are effective, could it be replicated in other parts of the world that are dealing with extremism? If governments and communities continue to label released terrorist inmates as misfits and ͞no-hopers͟, will this further isolate them and encourage them to return to their radical beliefs? Is there a better way in dealing with extremism? Through our film, we hope to find answers to these questions.