Counter-Terrorism Policy Brief Series: Repatriation of ISIS Supporters: Challenges and Solutions

Plan to return Indonesian citizens associated with conflict in Syria and Iraq ignites debates among public and policymakers alike. On the one hand, there is a concern that the plan to return Indonesians who in most cases are ISIS supporters will pose security threat. Among them are combatants who might have the necessary capacity and training to conduct terror acts in Indonesia.  They can also proselytize radical ideology held by ISIS. On the other hand, return of ISIS supporting Indonesians is necessary on humanitarian ground. A lot of them are women and children currently living in a distressing condition within refugee camps in Syria. Moreover, there is also a push for the government of Indonesia to facilitate the return of ISIS supporting Indonesians as manifestation of state duty to protect its citizens.

It is not easy for the government of Indonesia to determine whether ISIS supporting Indonesians in Syria should be accepted back home or refused entry. On top of potential security threats, the government also has to take into account resource availability and legal infrastructure readiness to manage repatriation process. Moreover, the government also faces complex political landscape in Syria after the defeat of ISIS. There are multiple competing authorities and legitimacies amidst geopolitical competition between major powers. This policy paper aims to assist the government in answering these questions.