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Thursday, 13 June 2024

Untold Stories from Women in Terrorist Network

By : Karima Iffah Rahman (Alumni of Poltekkes Kemenkes Yogyakarta and Santri of PP. Sunan Pandanaran)

There are many women’s stories related to violent extremism. Like the pros and cons of the discourse about the repatriation of Indonesian citizens (WNI), which is still warm and continues to be a conversation. terrorism network women

Of course, other than because women are included in the category of vulnerable groups, the new trend also uncovered the fact that changes in gender roles encourage women not to be underestimated because they can be active extremist agents, especially in terms of recruitment efforts, funding mobilization, the womb of martyrs, to become a reliable killing machine.

It is the dynamics of this complex problem that ultimately pushed the Working Group on Women and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (WGWC) to consolidate the movement at the national and regional levels.

In its efforts to present a variety of novelty and intervention on this issue, the WGWC also held an annual meeting and national conference on 9-10 March 2020 at the Akmani Hotel, Jakarta.

Specifically, for the national conference held on March 9, 2020, the WGWC invited public representatives of civil society, the government, and various groups working on women’s issues and violent extremism. Whereas on March 10, 2020 the event was devoted to 24 community organizations that were active as WGWC partners.

The most interesting thing from the various sessions scheduled by the WGWC was the parallel workshop session that brought together a third of the national conference participants with women who lived in the confines of violent extremism, both as victims, perpetrators’ wives, and civilian returnees who almost joined ISIS.

The room provided by the committee feels crowded and silent to hear the story of each speaker who is certainly stirring emotions. No photos or videos are allowed to document this session. Some names were disguised at the request of the speaker.

Rosa for example, a wife of a former convicted terrorist who tried to survive and support her children after her husband surrendered to authorities. Besides having experienced financial difficulties, she was also considered a traitor and cooperated with the government by the network that her husband followed.

Not only that, after her husband’s case aired continuously for a week, during that time she also turned off any electronic media so that the case that happened to her husband was not known by her children.

She tried to protect herself and the identity of her children for the sake of survival that is no longer easy. Although she had experienced a phase when people were afraid, disgusted, and avoided meeting her, she was grateful there were still people who were moved to help her rise from adversity.

The second speaker, let’s just call her Dahlia, lives well-off. She has a smart and critical younger sister named Wardah. One day during the school holidays, Wardah saw that Dahlia was very elegant in her “syar’i ‘” Muslim clothing. Wardah also invited her mother to dress like Dahlia.

Wardah also loved reading, so her mother bought her books about the prophet’s story. Unfortunately, the more often she reads, she got increasingly confused and restless because she often compared the story of the time of the Prophet with current reality.

She was restless and wanted to discuss, yet because her parents were busy, she was looking for answers to every question on social media and ended with her interest in joining ISIS in Syria.

Long story short, Wardah was finally able to bring 26 members of her family to Syria, including Dahlia. Unfortunately, what she got from social media was very contrary to the reality she was faced in Syria. She lives in a noisy and dirty shelter. Promises such as living a prosperous life, nice greetings, reimbursing the cost of departure, free living expenses were not kept because there were no men in the group of family members who were willing to join ISIS.

Even women from their family members had to also participate in data collection to be married by ISIS members. Women who were still girls and widows were separated, so ISIS members who wanted to get married only need to mention the name of the list without having to go through the ta’aruf process.

No half-hearted, if they are proposed in the morning, then the answer must be there in the afternoon. In addition, ISIS members who managed to marry the women on the list get 5,000 dollars for girls and 10,000 dollars for widows. Dahlia and Wardah also tried to find a way to return to Indonesia.

Luckily after twice failing and being deceived, they finally met a group that could smuggle them in and get out of the trap of ISIS by paying as much as 4000 dollars to the group. After taking refuge in UN refugee camps and being picked up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and undergoing a process of de-radicalization, they finally returned to Indonesia and fought for a new life. Now Wardah continued her schooling and Dahlia became one of the comic artists on a website with the contents that she always linked to preventing terrorism.

The last speaker was Melati, one of the victims due to the bombings that occurred around the Kuningan area. As a result of these extreme actions, she must repeatedly undergo treatment and surgery and care so that her physical can recover, even though it is not going to be the same.

Melati told me that she was quite traumatized even though the tragedy had passed for years. Someone had asked her if she had reconciled with her past (the time when the bombing took place) and she said there was nothing wrong with my past. But every time she saw the capture of a person or group of terrorists, at that time she was always happy and applauded.

In fact, she always hoped that the terrorist was sentenced to death or sentenced in front of their victims. She also once thought to be able to injure the group and give them a solution of saltwater. It turned out that the incident caused trauma like an iceberg for her.

In the end, Melati tried to cure and deal, make peace, and forgive her past. Not because of anyone, she did that for herself to be calm and become a new woman with a better life.

From this parallel workshop session, not only reading new trends and listening to untold stories from the speakers, but participants can take important lessons and challenges faced in making decisions related to preventive efforts, counter radicalism, rehabilitation, and reintegration, as well as mobilizing potential pop culture communities to become an alternative movement in Indonesia.

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