Crossing Divides: The bomb maker turned peacemaker


Ali Fauzi looks through bars in a prison

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Ali Fauzi is now serving to others flip their backs on extremism and intolerance

“I’m an professional bomb maker. I could make bombs in simply 5 minutes.”

Ali Fauzi was a key member of Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant group with hyperlinks to al-Qaeda, which was accountable for Indonesia’s worst assault – the 2002 Bali bombing that killed greater than 200 folks.

“My brothers carried out the Bali bombing. It was big bomb within the coronary heart of the island’s vacationer district.”

The group went on to hold out a string of bombings in Indonesia. They have been lethal assaults on main motels and Western embassies. The seemingly sleepy village of Tenggulun in Lamongan, East Java was the group’s base camp.

Now Ali Fauzi’s mission could be very totally different. He works to assist former jihadis go away a lifetime of violence and to cease new recruits from becoming a member of the following wave of militant teams in South East Asia.

“The fact is that it’s a lot simpler to recruit folks to terrorist teams,” he says.

“They solely have to drag a set off and plenty of folks will be part of them however the strategy of deradicalisation takes time. It must be executed step-by-step.”

And his new mission has come at a excessive private value.

“The threats towards me are intense, it isn’t simply verbal assaults however dying threats. However, actually, I’m not scared as a result of I do know what I’m doing is true. I’m prepared and ready to die doing this.”

It was movies of overseas wars – in Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Palestinian Territories, watched on cell phones from their quiet Javanese village – that motivated Ali Fauzi and his brothers to hitch militant teams.

“We noticed movies of the brutal assaults on civilians. I wished to hold out jihad to guard the Muslim folks from the bullies. With younger, sizzling blood I wished to battle again.”

Whereas his brothers went to battle alongside the mujahideen, in Afghanistan, Ali Fauzi stayed nearer to house, becoming a member of Islamic militants combating for a Muslim homeland within the southern Philippines.

“I actually wished to die there. I imagined my very own dying on a regular basis,” he says.

“I believed that if I used to be killed in battle I’d go straight to heaven and be met by angels there. That is what our mentors instructed us day by day.”

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Getty Photographs

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The 2002 bombings killed 202 folks

When his brothers returned from Afghanistan, they put into follow what they’d learnt overseas.

In October 2002, they have been amongst a bunch that detonated two bombs concentrating on nightclubs within the Kuta space of Bali, the island common with worldwide vacationers.

“I noticed it on TV and I used to be shocked, there have been so many lifeless our bodies,” says Ali Fauzi. “It led the authorities proper to us.”

Two of his brothers, Ali Ghufron and Amrozi, have been executed whereas his third, Ali Imron, is behind bars for all times.

Ali Fauzi, who insists he was not concerned within the Bali bombing, spent three years in jail for different terror-related offences. That is when his life took on a dramatically new course.

“Police handled me very humanely. If they’d tortured me then possibly seven generations after me can be combating the Indonesian authorities,” he says.

“I hated the police, we considered them as Devil. That is what we have been taught. However the actuality was fully totally different. That is when my complete perspective fully modified.”

He additionally met victims of bombings his group had carried out.

“I cried. My coronary heart melted, seeing the horrific impact our bombs had. That is what made me actually need to change from an agent of struggle to turn into a warrior for peace.”

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Media captionSee what occurred when a person who misplaced his father within the Bali bombing met perpetrator Ali Imron

Because the night name to prayer rings out throughout the Tenggulun village, prayer mats are rolled out in a sq. in conjunction with the village’s most important mosque. They’re simply subsequent to the workplace of Circle of Peace, the muse Ali Fauzi arrange in 2016 to divert folks away from extremism.

The prayer occasion tonight is led by two bomb victims, company of honour on this village which was as soon as the bottom camp for the militant teams that carried out the assaults that destroyed their lives.

“I typically carry victims to the group,” Ali Fauzi says, “as assembly them was the factor that destroyed my ego.”

On the display screen on the aspect of the stage a graphic video exhibits the aftermath of all of the bombs in Indonesia.

It is a rare assembly. Within the viewers are police who arrested members of this group, in addition to those that have served time in jail on terrorism offences.

They’re listening to the victims of the bombing speak, by way of tears, concerning the ache they’ve suffered.

Within the viewers is 33-year-old Zulia Mahendra. He was a young person when his father, Amrozi, was arrested, sentenced to dying after which later executed for the Bali bombing.

Amrozi was dubbed the “smiling murderer” by the media as a result of he confirmed no regret in the course of the trial, grinning all through and defiant to his dying.

Crossing divides

A season of tales about bringing folks collectively in a fragmented world.

After the assembly, Mahendra greets the 2 bomb victims. They hug and maintain arms, and he repeatedly says sorry.

“I need to ask for forgiveness, not as a result of I’m mistaken. However he was my father and these are the victims of my household’s actions. I’ve a duty to ask for forgiveness, on behalf of my father.”

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Zulia Mahendra was 16 when his father was arrested after which later executed for the Bali bombing

Mahendra, too, has gone by way of an astonishing transformation.

“When my father was executed, I wished revenge. I wished to discover ways to make bombs too,” he admits.

“However over time and with steerage from my uncles – Ali Fauzi and Ali Imron – they made me realise it was the mistaken factor to do. And I joined their challenge to assist different terrorists change.”

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Zulia Mahendra along with his son

“How I turned who I’m at the moment was a really, very lengthy journey,” says Mahendra.

“However I got here to a spot the place I understood that jihad just isn’t killing folks or combating, it may possibly imply working onerous for your loved ones.”

One night time, Mahendra says, he regarded tearfully at his sleeping little one and considered his father.

“I did not need my little one to must undergo what I’ve. If I continued on my father’s path, my little one too can be deserted. I knew that the proper jihad was to take care of them – to guard them.”

However he says he has mates who’ve joined splinter militant teams in Indonesia, loosely linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

“There are many the explanation why an individual goes in that course – their financial state of affairs, not having something to do… what they’re taught and who they’re influenced by.”

Ali Fauzi knocks on the door of the Lamongan jail. It is a acquainted place for him, having come right here many occasions to fulfill relations serving time but additionally to work with new inmates to try to flip their life round.

“My deradicalisation work just isn’t primarily based on principle. It is from life expertise. I used to be a fighter and a terrorist, so I come into the cells as a pal.”

However he faces resistance and is considered by some as a traitor for working with the police.

“They are saying that I’m much more of a kafir [unbeliever] than the police or jail guards. I recurrently face on-line abuse and threatening cellphone calls. However it’s okay. I can deal with it,” he says with a smile.

“Out of the 98 folks now we have labored with since 2016, two have come out of jail and gone straight again to their militant methods.”

“Deradicalisation just isn’t simple since you are coping with folks’s feelings and mind-set, you need to give them the proper medication. And typically we get it mistaken.”

Typically they get it proper.

Sumarno, he says, is one among his success tales.

He takes me to a dry area, in conjunction with the highway outdoors the village. It was right here that Sumarno says he hid weapons belonging to Jemaah Islamiyah, after the Bali bombing.

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Sumarno factors to the place he disguise weapons after the 2002 Bali bombings.

After serving a three-year jail sentence, Ali Fauzi helped Sumarno arrange a small enterprise – a journey firm providing pilgrimage packages to Mecca.

“Now I need to give again to society,” says Sumarno. “With this journey firm, I hope that I can go away a lifetime of violence behind me.”

Sitting in his sensible air-conditioned workplace in Paciran, a 20-minute drive from the village, he says he was nervous at first about telling his shoppers about his violent previous, even cautious to not say which village he was from.

However now he begins the tour with what he calls his story of redemption.

“I say I’m the cousin of Ali Gufron and Amrozi who have been executed for finishing up the Bali bombings. I inform them: ‘I used to be a part of their group. However thanks be to Allah I’ve been healed from that rotten mind-set. And I’m your tour information to Mecca.'”

In a room in conjunction with the village mosque, an after-school membership takes place. Kids wearing vibrant garments recite the Koran.

A few of their dad and mom are behind bars on terrorism prices.

The academics embody Ali Fauzi’s spouse, Lulu, and Zumrottin Nisa, who’s married to Ali Imron.

“We stress to them that not everybody believes the identical factor,” says Lulu.

“That there are folks in our group who’re non-Muslim and now we have to deal with them with respect so long as they do not attempt to intrude with our religion.”

However she says they have not satisfied everybody.

“There are these for and towards our new mission. These which can be nonetheless militant don’t love us now. They keep away from us,” she says.

“We was once one group with the identical mission however we modified after the Bali bombing killed so many harmless folks, a lot of them Muslims. There are others who have not modified.”

In Could final yr, a household of suicide bombers attacked three church buildings in East Java.

The daddy went after one, his teenage sons went after one other, and his spouse and two daughters, age 12 and 9, blew themselves up on the third.

The attackers have been a part of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) community, which is loosely linked to IS.

JAD has carried out a collection of lone wolf assaults towards Indonesian safety forces and non secular minorities. The newest was a knife assault, by a younger couple, towards the nation’s prime safety officer, Wiranto.

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Lulu Fauzi

Within the Circle of Peace workplace, Lulu Fauzi says she is shocked ladies are taking such an lively half.

“My husband is working onerous to verify former terrorism inmates do not return. He’s bringing them collectively and he has been in a position to flip round many individuals.

“However many individuals are nonetheless radical. We are able to by no means actually wipe it out,” she says.

As we drive by way of the village, Ali Fauzi’s cellphone is consistently ringing.

He takes a name from somebody who has just lately been launched, having served time on terrorism prices. The individual wants assist getting housing.

One other name is from a mom whose son is being questioned by the police.

“Dozens of individuals from our group went to battle with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq,” he says. “Not way back, a member of IS was detained by the police right here. So militant teams nonetheless exist they usually nonetheless threaten Indonesia.”

Now he is on the aspect of what he describes as a battle towards extremism and intolerance.

“If we work onerous and contain the entire group, then I’m nonetheless hopeful that we are able to win this struggle.”



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