Indonesia not prepared to deal with female extremist threat, expert says
By Indonesia correspondent Adam Harvey
Photo: Inside the Hizb ut-Tahrir women’s conference in Jakarta. (ABC News: Adam Harvey)
Indonesian authorities are not prepared to deal with the threat posed by women extremists, terror analyst Sidney Jones says.
Last month counter-terrorism officers foiled an attack by Indonesia’s first female would-be suicide bomber.
Dian Yulia Novi said she was told by an Indonesian ISIS operative to blow herself up at a Changing of the Guard ceremony at Jakarta’s State Palace. She was arrested with a prepared pressure-cooker bomb.
"I think it’s the beginning of something, not just in Indonesia but in the region more generally," Sidney Jones, from the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said.
"I think women who have been active in ISIS or who are supporting ISIS now want a more active role and have been pressing the men in ISIS to give them one."
Female terrorists are common in the Middle East, but this was a first for Indonesia, where the threat coincides with a growing religious conservatism and rise in visibility of hardline groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
"In many cases intelligence agencies have not paid particular attention to the role of women," Ms Jones said.
"They don’t search women as thoroughly when they go through metal detectors for example, they haven’t paid as much attention to women visitors in prison, even though it is very clear for a long time that women play a key role as couriers."
Women a presence at hardliner rallies
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama speaks.
Photo: Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, is currently on trial. (ABC News: Ari Wu)
Women are a small but noticeable presence at regular rallies by hardliners in Jakarta, against the city’s Christian governor Ahok.
Conservative Islamic organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir say they are opposed to violence as a way to achieve an Islamic caliphate in South-East Asia.
The ABC attended one recent Hizb ut-Tahrir women’s conference in Jakarta, which made it clear that life inside the caliphate would be violent — for some.
"Men and women who have sex before marriage — they both should be whipped 100 times each," Hizb ut-Tahrir activist Ismah Cholil told an audience of about 3,000 women and children.
"If they are married, and are having extra-marital sex, they should be stoned to death in public, and it should be shown widely on television.
"The next day do you think people will still dare to do pre-marital sex?"
She said the caliphate would treat gay and lesbian people in the same way as rapists and other criminals.
"Kill them straight away! So their evil deed will be buried under the ground, mixed together with the bacteria, the earthworms, and they will have no time to infect the living."
Photo: A photo of the ID of would-be suicide bomber Dian Yulia Novi. (Supplied: Indonesian police)
Foiled suicide bomber Dian Yulia Novi said after her arrest that she felt alienated by moderate Muslims.
"Only a few are willing to take the burqa — yes, the burqa is not forbidden here, not like in some countries, but when I walk outside people see me as a strange," she said.
"It’s not the same treatment to people who are wearing the common hijab."
Ms Jones said women were pushing to play a bigger role in the extremist world.
"They have had to play a more active role since many of their husbands and sons have been arrested or have left for Syria. And I can’t discount the influence of social media and exchanges among women," she said.
"And a desire in part inspired by ISIS propaganda for a more active role."
Hizb ut-Tahrir says sharia law is nothing to fear.
It is just as much about economics as morals, said the group’s spokesperson Iffah Ainur Rochmah.
"Islam acknowledges plurality — that in an Islamic caliphate we will not only give a place for Muslims but also for believers of other religions to practice their religions," she said.
"They all have rights as citizens, they will be protected, their blood and honour, they will given the rights to pray, but of course as non Muslims, in public aspects, they need to abide by what the state stipulates."
Indonesian ISIS operative Bahrun Naim was once a Hizb ut member.
"Because [Hiab ut-Tahrir] has focused on the caliphate as the solution to all problems, we see some people attracted to ISIS and cross over and one of those is Bahrun Naim," Ms Jones said.
The would-be female suicide bomber Dian Novi said Bahrun Naim gave her instructions to kill over instant-messaging app Telegram.
"I had been communicating with him for three days, yes, via Telegram. He told me which target to bomb, the Presidential Palace Military Guards."
Failed female suicide bomber felt ’alienated’