Doug Bedell — October 30, 2007, 11:09 am

Reforming Terrorists (It Apparently Can Be Done)

This piece isn’t on security measures against terrorism. It’s about success in Indonesia in rehabilitating terrorists. It apparently can be done, and we thought the news would be welcome here.

The Australian, in Sydney, reports on “a growing number of terrorists who have been rehabilitated and who have renounced violence.” They appear primarily to be onetime members of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) network in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines.

The success in reforming terrorists is attributed in a forthcoming book, Leaving Terrorism Behind (by U.S. terror expert Zachary Abuza, edited by John Horgan and Tore Bjorgo) partly to humane treatment they received from Indonesian police. The prisoners were “not beaten or tortured but instead invited to pray with the police during interrogation sessions, thereby undermining JI’s assertions that the Government was murtad (a traitor to Islam).”

“Abuza says such programs have become a cornerstone of the Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian counter-terrorism programs. He adds that just as there is a process to becoming a terrorist, there is a process for disengaging from a militant group.”

Not one, however, that is unfailingly successful. Of 300 people arrested in anti-terrorism efforts in Indonesia so far, 30, or 10 percent, “have been rehabilitated and are actively cooperating with the Government,” The Australian reports.

Still, the story from Sydney is a lengthy advisory on an encouraging aspect of fighting terrorism.

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