Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Indonesia’s Yudhoyono Opposes Islamic De-Radicalization Center’s Site

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyoni opposes the BNPT's chosen location for the new de-radicalization center.

(Photo : REUTERS) Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyoni opposes the BNPT's chosen location for the new de-radicalization center.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has objected to the location of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency BNPT's newest de-radicalization center last week, months before its intended launch at the end of the year.

The 6.1 hectare center, which will be housed within the International Peace and Security Center (IPSC) near the capital, aims to curb religious and militant extremism and prevent convicted terrorists from reverting to their old ways after serving their sentence.

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But Yudhoyono, during a visit to the IPSC compound last week, said that while he supports the establishment of the de-radicalization center, the location was not appropriate.

The compound currently serves as a training and education facility for UN peacekeeping missions. It houses the National Disaster Mitigation Agency and other training and technological centers.

"It doesn't have to be there. We'll help find [a new location]," Yudhoyono said, adding that it could be dangerous if prisoners attempted a breakout.

It is unclear whether Yudhoyono's objection will set back plans to have the center operational by the end of the year, but BNPT chief Ansyaad Mbai said the president acknowledged the need for the program.

So far, Indonesia's de-radicalization programs have been deemed ineffective by analysts, but the BNPT hopes the revamped program will effect lasting changes that would reform convicted terrorists.

Proposed director of the center Irfan Idris said changes to the program include inmates' exposure to their families and psychological and spiritual counseling.

"We're aiming to change their hearts and souls with peaceful religious teachings," he said.

Al Chaidar, a terrorism analyst, said de-radicalization programs should focus on providing inmates with a multicultural, tolerant and pluralistic environment rather than concentrating solely on breaking off radical beliefs and reducing hostility towards non-Muslims and the government.

Meanwhile, critics of the BNPT's program say that brining reformed radicals from Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia as program counselors would only result in fuelling the radicalism of the inmates, Today Online relayed.

But Ansyaad argued that reformed terrorists were the "most effective clerics" to convince the inmates to embrace peace.

According to The Australian, extremist prisoners Jemaah Islamiah, alleged co-founder of the Abu Bakar Bashir; Aman Abdurrahman; and Australian embassy terrorist bomber Iwan Darmawan aka Rois are expected to be transferred to the new center.

The three have declared allegiance to the Islamic State and caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They are believed to have been actively proselytizing the ISIL cause to fellow inmates at the Nusa Kambangan prison.

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