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NEWS UPDATES 26 August 2010

Jailing terrorists not a solution

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Terrorism experts say that jailing terrorists will not solve the security problems in Indonesia.

Most of the terrorists have returned to their old habits after being released from prison.

In a prison in Porong, just outside Surabaya in East Java, a separate block houses inmates found guilty of terrorism under Indonesia's terrorism laws.

Nineteen inmates are currently housed in that block, which is also known as the terrorists block

Meanwhile, there are plans to build a separate prison for terrorists in Indonesia.

While such arrangements may prove useful, experts are concerned with the lack of programmes to de-radicalise the terrorists while they're in prison.

Some terrorists have even been released early for good behaviour.

"This is the standard for good behaviour. They never really address the real issue - the ideology," Indonesia's anti-terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail said.

It's an uphill battle to de-radicalise terrorists, but Noor Huda believes it's worth trying.

Sonhadi was a former militant respected by his peers. He was convicted for hiding terrorist leader Nordin Mohd Top.

He believes discussions about Jihad have very little influence on the militants.

"Actually they already have a background about Jihad. And it is firmly rooted. Therefore they are closed to other discourse on the subject," Sonhadi said.

Many are not convinced Sonhadi has been reformed.

Clearly the effort to de-radicalise convicted terrorists will have to start sooner rather than later.

And experts said it has to begin here in the prisons.

But the Indonesian authorities seem unclear where to start.

There's even contention over whether it's worth giving convicted terrorists a second chance given the strength of their beliefs.

But not doing anything is also not an option since the released terrorists have the capability to perpetuate the cycle of violence in Indonesia.

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