September 15, 2011

Talib or Taliban? Indonesian students in Pakistan and Yemen

  • Samina Yasmeen, Sarah Phillips, Anthony Bubalo
  • Lowy Institute for International Policy



  • 12 September 2011This paper looks at the issue of Indonesian students who study at Islamic educational institutions in Pakistan and Yemen. Its primary goal is to understand whether the presence of Indonesian students at Islamic institutions in Pakistan and Yemen poses a risk, either in terms of radicalisation, or in the formation (or re-formation) of direct contacts between Indonesian extremist groups and counterparts in these countries such as al-Qaeda.

    In the last decade Indonesia has mounted a very successful counter-terrorism campaign. But while the terrorist threat is greatly reduced, it has not completely disappeared. In particular there has been a decentralisation of the terrorist threat away from large movements, notably Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI), towards smaller groups. The emergence of new terrorist threats in coming years will ultimately depend on what happens within Indonesia.

    Nevertheless, if al-Qaeda or similar groups were able to create new venues for the training and indoctrination of Indonesian extremists either in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or elsewhere, this would pose a challenge for Indonesian counter-terror efforts. Not only could this improve the technical proficiency of Indonesian extremists or open up new sources of funding, but it would once again provide, in the cloistered atmosphere of the training camp, networks of personal loyalty and an excellent incubator for the production of hardened followers of the al-Qaeda or other extremist narratives

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