Abdurrahman Ayyub was once one of Australia’s most-wanted terrorists. Now he works for Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency, known as the BNPT, on its deradicalisation program. In the nation’s prisons and in the communities, he spreads the message of moderate Islam.
“What Indonesia is doing is recognised by the world now,” Mr Ayyub said.
“The counter-terrorism agency working together with former radicals — that’s very important, because there’s no way a doctrine can change on its own without dialogue.”
Australia not addressing radicalised youth: Ayyub
Mr Ayyub entered Australia in the 1990s to recruit and fundraise for Jemaah Islamiah, the terrorist group responsible for the Bali attacks. He fled Australia after the nightclub bombings in 2002, but insists he had no prior knowledge of the attacks.
He said Australia’s counter-terrorism methods were lacking dialogue particularly with the nation’s youth. “Australia is sitting on a time bomb, which means people can quickly turn radical and extreme, even though now they seem calm,” Mr Ayyub said.
“What has Australia done in regards to these dialogues for the youth? Someone who was just like I was. “I am asking the question to Australia: What have you done about deradicalisation?”
Hundreds of Indonesian terrorists await prison release: Bishop
Mr Ayyub’s twin brother Abdul Rahim Ayyub was married to Australian-born jihadist Rabiah Hutchinson. Their Australian child, Mr Ayyub’s nephew, is now fighting in Syria.
“My nephew went there — Muhammad Ilyas, the son of Rabiah, he left to join ISIS,” Mr Ayyub said. “How many like that are undetected? How many still hold grudges?” Australia’s Foreign Minister has repeatedly expressed concern about convicted terrorists being released from Indonesia jails.
“A significant number of prisoners in Indonesian prisons who have been convicted of terrorist-related activities will be released. It runs into the hundreds,” Julie Bishop said on the sidelines of the UN security council meeting in New York in September. “And of course, if they’ve not been rehabilitated, then they pose a serious risk, not only to Indonesia, but to our region.”
Indonesia’s correctional services body says 41 convicted terrorists have been released from jail this year. “According to our investigation, these inmates, prisoners, are reformed terrorists,” Akbar Hadi Prabowo, a spokesman at the directorate general of correctional facilities, said.
“They have changed their attitude, behaviour and hopefully also their mindset. So they no longer have their old ways, their point of view has changed.”
Rehabilitation a ‘never-ending cycle’
Senior Indonesia Army commander, Major General Agus Surya Bakti led the nation’s deradicalisation efforts as part of the BNPT.
“We remain vigilant,” Major General Bakti said. “The process of deradicalisation is a never-ending cycle. “The rehabilitation process in the prisons will be continued with rehabilitation process in society.”
There are more than 250 terrorists detained in jails across the country. Umar Patek, who is serving a 20-year sentence for making the explosives used in the deadly 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, is now seen as an Indonesian deradicalisation success story.
Video footage from Porong prison in east Java shows Patek raising the Indonesian flag. “Who doesn’t know Umar Patek,” Major General Bakti said. “He flew the flag, saluted it, it’s an extraordinary thing.”
There has been no suggestion at this stage that Patek will be released early.