Indonesian Islamist organisations have been closely monitoring the Syrian civil war since mid-2012, raising funds and dispatching teams of medical volunteers. But some have also travelled for combat, with counter-terrorism officials estimating there are around 50 Indonesians fighting in the conflict. In November 2013, the first Indonesian ‘martyr’ in Syria was announced after a man named Reza Fardi was killed in battle. He was a graduate of Ngruki, the boarding school founded by Abu Bakar Bashir, the former leader of Jama’ah Islamiyah (JI) and current head of Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid. (1)
Riza Fardi, also called Abu Muhammad al-Indunisi,whose death was announced on 28 November 2013 by the twitter account of the Suquor al-Izz Brigade, with which he was ﬁghting, and subsequently by a tweet from the al-Qaeda media, Shoutul Jihad. It was then picked up by radical websites in Indonesia and further broadcast by mobile phone texting.According to a Ngruki alumni Facebook page, Riza was from West Kalimantan and graduated from Ngruki in 2006. He taught at Ngruki for a year, then in 2007 went with several other Ngruki graduates to Yemen, where he studied at al-Iman University in Sana’a. He was still therein 2010 when two Indonesians, arrested in Yemen for visa violations, were deported and inter-rogated by counter-terrorism police about their contacts there (3)
Experts like Sidney Jones have expressed concern that Syria veterans will return home with new skills, experience, contacts, credibility and deadly intentions. Jihadists certainly see the conflict as an opportunity, with Bashir describing Syria as a ‘university for jihad education’.
A former affiliate of Noordin M. Top who was running several small businesses in Solo, Central Java. In 2012 when he was due to open the Solo branch of Dapur Bistek, a restaurant-cum-job training program for former fighters run by the Institute for International Peace Building. With his son next to him eating ice cream, he told me that he hoped to fight with Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front); he simply needed to raise the money.
In August of 2014, several Indonesians who had fought with ISIS returned home, citing disillusionment with the tactics of the movement. Disillusionment is among the most common factors leading someone to disengage from terrorism. A fighter motivated to disengage due in part to disillusionment may be disappointed with a movement’s tactics, its leaders, their own role, or the ideology upon which the group was founded. In this instance, the returnees cited their disillusionment with the ways in which ISIS departed from the Qur’an’s rules of war; they were particularly disturbed to discover that they would be fighting and killing other Muslims. Those who joined ISIS were motivated by a desire to assist in building the caliphate, to fight in the battle of end times, as some have thought Syria to be, or to fight in a legitimate jihad as their elder brothers who fought in Afghanistan had done some decades earlier. (2)
Indonesia government has initiated deradicalism programs, Run by BNPT, Indonesia National Body for Terrorism Counteract, located at Sentul, west Java. one of the early returning fighter from Syria was in August 2017, a group of 18 Indonesia citizen that had their deradicalism for one month before they were undetained by BNPT.
One of the returnee, a lady named Nurshadrina Khaira Dhania (19) claimed that she was tricked by Isis propaganda and returned to Indonesia after 2,5 years living in Syria. She said that, They have good propaganda, beautiful, living in comfort peace walthy full of justice. So I was blinded, so their bad news was vanished”. ” We were intending to live under their umbrella, under the khilafah”, Nurshadrina added. Nurshadrina found a different world to what she promised, placed in the dirty boarding house and the leader of the boarding house recording who are widow and single. Forcely the fighters come to the boarding house and asking for a women without care whether the women willing or not. (4)
Other ex Syria fighter, Aldiansyah Syamsudin from Bogor went to Syria to join the holy-war. He was an alumni of islamic cleric boarding school in Bogor and being radical thru the internet not by the mosque. He was sent US$ 1,000 from someone name Abu Hofsah for his flight ticket to Turkey in March 2016. He was trained in Syria by an Indonesian and Philippines, learing how to use granat, handling Kalashnikov, RPG and machine gun PKC.
He was then left wounded, starving, and can not speak Arab after a air strike hits their car convoy in Raqqa. He then asked for helps from the villagers but the look the other way and abandoned him. Now he returned to Indonesia , he said ” Isis , why should i care about them, they don’t care about me” (5)
In July 2017, there was plan of some 600ish ex Syria combatant returning to Indonesia.