Indonesian women becoming more active in jihadist networks: Report

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Jakarta [Indonesia], Feb. 5 (ANI): A report by the south-east Asia-focused Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) has urged Indonesia to tackle an increasing threat of would-be female terrorists who are being spurred on via social media to engage with extremist Islamist networks. The growth of social media and a change of attitude by Islamic State leaders has led to women becoming more active in jihadist networks, the Guardian quoted the report as saying. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, was urged by the IPAC immediately investigate women involved in extremist networks, especially women deportees and migrant worker communities. "The need to know more about Indonesian extremist women suddenly has become urgent," said the report. In a country known for its prolific social media usage, the internet has enabled Indonesian women to become more actively engaged in radical chat forums, reading ISIS propaganda, international jihadi matchmaking as well as organising fundraising and logistical support. "The absence of any hierarchical structure on the internet meant that no one could tell women to stop propagating jihad, especially when they used their own accounts," outlines the report adding, "If anything, men eventually realised that women played an indispensible role in the development of the jihadi virtual community." These platforms have also seen Indonesian women express their desires to take up more active combat roles, such as by becoming suicide bombers. Last December, Indonesian authorities arrested two women, Dian Yulia Novi and Ika Puspitasari, for volunteering for suicide missions. Bahrum Naim, Indonesia's leading proponent of ISIS, provided both women with financial support and suggested that female suicide bombers carried an element of surprise. The Syrian-based Naim is believed to have helped engineer a terrorist attack in Jakarta last January that killed eight people. The would-be women bombers were both domestic workers overseas, one of several subgroups of women the IPAC report identifies as those drawn to, or susceptible to, extremist ideologies. Anis Hidayah, the executive director of Migrant Care, said migrant workers were targeted by drug traffickers and hardliners alike because they were vulnerable, potential "victims of fundamentalism". "It's very open for ISIS to approach these circles of migrant workers. Some in Hong Kong and Taiwan have already been exposed and we have indications that there are more than have been reported," she says. The ability of these women to earn foreign currency has also led to male leadership to see them as sources of cash and donations. More than 100 Indonesian women and children have crossed the border to join ISIS since 2013 and many more have been deported. (ANI)