Dozens of former terrorists mingled with hundreds of locals Thursday in the courtyard of Baitul Muttaqien Mosque in Tenggulun Village, East Java, to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Indonesia’s independence.
Lingkar Perdamaian (Peace Circle), a foundation founded in November 2016 by Ali Fauzi Manzi and other former convicts, hosted the celebration that included a flag-raising ceremony.
Participants included 37 former terrorists and combatants, many of whom had been members Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an al-Qaeda linked group blamed for the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people and injured hundreds more.
Yoyok Edi Sucahyo (alias Broyok) oversaw the ceremony. Once a favorite student of Abu Faris, a cleric from Tenggulun who is reportedly in Syria with the Islamic State (IS), Broyok admitted he was exposed to radicalism and terrorism.
“That’s my past, now it’s time to welcome the future,” he told BenarNews.
Zulia Mahendra and Khoerul Mustain served as flag raisers. Mahendra is the youngest son of Amrozi, who was executed in 2008 for his role in the 2002 Bali bombing, while Khoerul is the oldest son of Nor Minda who was convicted for providing bomb materials and storing weapons and ammunition.
“I am touched, an unforgettable experience,” Mahendra said after the ceremony.
Mahendra said he used to feel angry at police for executing his father and sought to learn how to build bombs. But after interacting with former terrorists, his desire for revenge waned.
Ali Fauzi – whose brothers Ali Imron, Ali Ghufron (alias Muklas) and Amrozi were the main perpetrators of the Bali bombing – read the Independence Proclamation as part of the ceremony.
Some of the former militants took an oath of loyalty to Indonesia as part of an effort to win trust from the local community prior to the flag-raising ceremony.
Ali Fauzi said he often receives threats from radical groups who want Indonesia to abandon its secular constitution and become an Islamic caliphate.
“Many are sending messages stating the pledge to Indonesia is fake,” he said.
Full story: BenarNews
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