Je Suis Charlie

Can terrorists be reformed and rehabilitated? That’s the question being asked by a group of South-East Asian officials and scholars in charge of a project designed to share experiences on reintegrating former terrorists back into society. The project hopes to evaluate specific strategies in order to “explore the necessity and impact of aftercare programmes as part of the larger social integration process”.

The Strategies on Aftercare and Reintegration (SOAR) Network was launched by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in April 2015, at the end of a two-day East Asia Summit (EAS) Symposium on Religious Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration. It focuses on three areas: countering radical propaganda online, helping to immunise communities against extremism, and rehabilitating and reintegrating those who have been radicalised.

More than 500 radicals from the Asia-Pacific are now fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In addition, countries in the region such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia have already been struggling with extremist groups, particularly since the 2002 Bali bombings by the then-relatively unknown militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. In this context, could deradicalisation programmes be more effective than using force?

Some observers are doubtful. Susan Sim, a former Singapore intelligence analyst, has cautioned that individuals who have completed a deradicalisation programme have often merely adjusted their views rather than rejecting violence outright: “They reject violence directed at civilians, but if you listen to them, they do not reject violence per se. They say,’Yes, we regret the Bali bombing.’ But if you dig down, they basically say, `We regret the tactical errors that [Jemaah Islamiyah] committed.’”

Nevertheless, are there lessons Europe can learn from these programmes? To get a response, we spoke to Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and a former Secretary General of ASEAN (2003-2007). What did he think Europe could learn from Asia in terms of the rehabilitation of foreign fighters?

We also had a comment from James, arguing that the deradicalisation of individuals has to begin in the community:

citizen_icon_180x180Communities must work with national and local government to help identify and educate people at risk of radicalisation and bring them back to the mainstream. It is crucial Muslim communities are brought into the fold as they will have the solutions to preventing this problem and re-integrating marginalised individuals. On a wider societal level we have to work harder to better integrate people and share common values.

This is very similar to the argument put forward by Julie Ward, a British Labour Party MEP for the North West of England, who has written an article in Europe’s World about precisely this topic. How would she respond to James’ comment?

Can Europe learn from Singapore’s de-radicalisation programmes? Even with the different social and political environments in Singapore and Europe, are there useful lessons that can be drawn from each other’s experience in dealing with radicalisation? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Keno Photography – Kenan Šabanović

56 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Tim Rokka

    of course, but who has the time, money and patience to do that? And how can you prove that they are rehabilitated and what is the risk factor of them falling back into their “old habits”… in the end, what does it cost and who is paying, is there anything else we should be spending our limited amount of money on?

  2. avatar
    σαντυ αλεξανδρου

    No.How can you trust them.It’s like a man that cheats on you.Would you ever trust him again?You will always wonder.And there is no issue of death in this case.

  3. avatar
    Ioanna Flouri

    Terrorists are tough to handle. If they get integrated into the society without any preparation, there will be grave danger of terrorism at any moment. If Europe is willing to make this attempt, she must first prepare them and then NOT integrate them immediately, but integrate them only if they are able to obey the society. Safety is not a toy to play with and Europe needs to think of it wisely prior to them allowing terrorists enter the society.

  4. avatar

    Right, but the question remain, what kind of “negotiators” are needed to make an emotionally tormented “martyr” wearing a C4 vest and thumb pressing a detonator button, change his/her mind ? I think some hi ranked EU bureaucrats just have a distorted view of reality. The whole picture is much worst than they try to suggest (not long ago innocent British tourists killed on the beaches of Tunisia). I think there is no way to avoid a massive military intervention whatever the costs. The only “Re Education” that is proven to work is country by country, city by city, village by village, street by street and house by house. Tolerating radical Islam is just not an option. The irony is that a lot of “home grown” as ex British, German, French or Scandinavian born or naturalized “fighting” under ISIL’s flag, are doing the worst atrocities imaginable in Syria and Iraq, meaning that’s something wrong with religious “tolerance” in their home countries.

  5. avatar
    Weber Jan

    It is not extremism/radicalism, its Islam, the so called Prophet of the muslims personally killed people, and had critics murdered, or declared the murder of innocent people who did no more than speak bad about him in their own home as legitimate, he had a adultress killed, he fought wars, he enslaved people, he raped women and allowed his warriors to rape captured women and to ejaculate in them, dont take my word for it, google everything I sad and you can find a Islamic source which confirms this. Imagine for a second what Chistianity would be like if Jesus was a murderer and rapist, we Christians would be killing people based on his actions just as muslims are doing based on Muhammad’s, im not saying that crimes dont occur in the western world, but we dont kill in the name of God, this backward behaviour is not part of the west in the 21st century except in muslim communites. Muslims consider Muhammad to be the perfect example forever and all time, this is the root of our problems, the root of all evil coming from Islam.

  6. avatar
    Jean-Jacques Eiza Lauture Descayrac

    Just take them as they are. They should be prosecuted by military tribunals as crime against state security. To save time and budget, as cost of forced and channeled immigrations, together with unemployment, and public debts are slowly ruining Europe and its heritage, instead of strengthening its culture, its economy, social life and its values.

  7. avatar
    James Campbell

    Terrorists pose too big a threat to the lives of other people. If they have another nationality (usually, they do), then deportation and a permanent ban on re-entry is the solution. They can repent at leisure among the people they feel most comfortable with, in their own way.

  8. avatar
    Marijus Stasiulis

    Religion is main problem.
    It does not look that we live in civilized world.

    • avatar

      Religious belief is a way to guide human behavior. Civilized world is dominated with materialistic and individualism, which indeed needs religious belief to give some constraint.

  9. avatar
    Tuija Mustonen

    Yes, some pro manipulators can do it, but for example, start by telling them (or let them come to the conclusion by their own thinking of truth) that they were originally fooled by selfish people. In reality they can only go to paradise if they build many houses, repair cars, and in addition take voluntarily good care of elderly people, minimum is 7 elderly people who they need to help physically and talk with, listen to the life stories of those people then reflect the real reason for life before paradise. If they find that reason (and it certainly is not death or harming anyone by any means) they can get to paradise. Maybe.

  10. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    Maybe for all in the EU to get accustomed……or to learn WHAT from Singapore?

    An iron fist rule? Capital punishment? A planned 30% population increase through immigration? Depressed wages and reduced job prospects for Singaporeans. Local protests- “Singapore for Singaporeans”? Sound’s familiar- doesn’t it?

    Quote: “The rising population has raised the returns to the owners of fixed factors like land. Since the Singapore government owns 80 percent of the land, this benefits them. The surpluses generated from the growth of the economy and the higher population have not been used to compensate Singaporeans but instead gone to the accumulation of foreign assets in our SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUNDS.”

    Ok than, lets LEARN to take OUR Europe back from the EU!
    “Europe for sovereign Europeans countries”- (using a different dispensation!)

  11. avatar

    Why? You realy think that EI will end like that?

  12. avatar

    Can terrorists be reformed and rehabilitated? That’s the question being asked by a group of South-East Asian officials and scholars in charge of a project designed to share experiences on reintegrating former terrorists back into society.

    People with such proposals should be reformed and rehabilitated, not the terrorists. Terrorists commit crimes against humanity. I know that death penalty is abolished in Europe, but criminals are still being punished.
    I know it’s not possible, but since they are so fond of chopping heads, wouldn’t it be nice to oblige and rehabilitate them using the guillotine?

  13. avatar
    Olivier Dutreil

    Terrorist when they have anither nationality must be expelled from europe.islam which backs hate and sexism. Should be updated or banned from Europe.foreign imams should be banned from european mosks as well as foreign mosk financing..negociation with turkey must stop…islamic private schools must be banned..

  14. avatar
    Olivier Dutreil

    Why do you care about terrorist and not about victims…terrorists must be expelled or jailed in french guyana on a desertic island for ever..

  15. avatar
    Rozalija Baricevic

    An experimental program is underway to utilize chip implants which disable aggressive behavior. So far, results have been impressive. In clinical trials with pedophiles and rapists, scientists have seen complete aversion to prior behavior in patients. One scientist in the program speaking on condition of anonymity said, “we believe there will be numerous applications for chip implants by 2020. There will definitely be a market for behavior adjustment. There is the potential of eliminating crime, terrorism, drug addiction, even suicides! “.

  16. avatar

    Terrorist of one country can be freedom fighter of another country. We have all seen that jihadist were once the noble freedom fighters of Ronald Reagan and were honourable guests of the White House. When jihadists are no longer useful, they are terrorists. Being ally of the US, I expect that jihadists sent to Singapore are by nature “freedom fighters”.

  17. avatar

    Go to Xinjiang and take a look how beautiful and prosperous the province is now turning to. You can see what is a real de-radicalisation programme. China has turned the beautiful Xinjiang into a big farming region with beautiful lavander field, cotton, tomates and all sorts of delicious fruits. Herds of animals everywhere in the mountain, windmills, solar-panels and reservoirs all over Xinjiang, beautiful and modern highways running across the desert fringes towards Central Asia and Europe, everywhere are doing reforestation, deserts are shrinking too. The new and very beautiful modern mass transit railway has brought to service at the provincial capital Urumchi…De-radicalisation can only happen when the country can use its wealth to bring work to its people so that people can have a happy life.

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