Deradicalization, the new Chieu Hoi

Indonesia’s success: using terrorists to fight terrorism

Indonesia instituted a program called deradicalization. Realizing that hard-core militants will not listen to prominent Muslim moderates, the deradicalization initiative employs other militants – former terrorist fighters or trainers. These are men like Nasir Abas, once a Jemaah Islamiah leader, who have sworn off most types of violence. Former fighters who agree to help the deradicalization program often receive incentives, such as reduced sentences or assistance for their families.

The co-opted radicals are sent as advocates into Indonesian prisons, major breeding grounds of militants. In the jails and other sites, they work to convince would-be terrorists that attacking civilians is not acceptable in Islam, to show that terror actually alienates average people from their religion, to suggest that the police are not anti-Islam and to exploit internal antagonisms within terror networks to turn militants against each other. These intense debates, which rely partly on Quran scholarship, can last for months. Meanwhile, other former militants appear on Indonesian television to express remorse for having killed their countrymen and women.

According to a recent report by the independent, nonprofit International Crisis Group, the Indonesian plan has “persuaded about two dozen members of Jemaah Islamiah … to cooperate with the police.”

The Chieu Hoi Program of Vietnam

Americans can’t deprogram jihadis because studying jihadi doctrine is politically incorrect and can get you fired. 

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