(TENGGULUN, Indonesia) — The younger Balinese widow stared throughout the courthouse on the man who had murdered her husband and 201 others, and longed to see him undergo.

Ever since that horrible night time, when she realized amid the blackened physique components and smoldering particles that the daddy of her two little boys was lifeless, Ni Luh Erniati’s rage on the males behind the bombing had remained locked deep inside. However now, it got here roaring out.

She tried to scramble over a desk blocking her path to hit Amrozi Nurhasyim, whose unrepentant grin all through the trial over Indonesia’s worst terrorist assault had earned him the nickname “The Smiling Murderer.” After which she felt fingers pulling her again, halting her bid for vengeance.

What would occur a decade later between her and Amrozi’s brother — the person who had taught Amrozi the best way to make bombs — was unthinkable in that second. Unthinkable that they’d come head to head in a fragile try at reconciliation. Unthinkable that they’d attempt to discover the humanity in one another.

However inside that courthouse, and for years to come back, Erniati needed everybody related to the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali to be executed by firing squad. And he or she needed to be the one to drag the set off.

Her phrases to a reporter in 2012 have been blunt: “I hate them,” she stated.

“I at all times will.”


The apply of reconciling former terrorists and victims is uncommon and, to some, abhorrent. But it’s gaining consideration in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. Whereas Islam in Indonesia is basically reasonable, the nation has battled Islamic militants because the Bali assaults. Final yr, two households carried out suicide bombings at church buildings, and in October, a militant stabbed Indonesia’s prime safety minister.

The assaults have left Indonesia trying to find methods to forestall terrorism — and to heal from it.

Indonesia embraces a so-called delicate strategy to counterterrorism, the place officers recruit former militants to attempt to change extremist attitudes of their communities, and jailed terrorists undergo deradicalization packages. Final yr, Indonesia’s authorities introduced collectively dozens of former Islamic militants and victims for what was billed as a reconciliation convention. The outcomes have been blended.

Extra quietly, over the previous a number of years, there was a rising alliance of former terrorists and victims introduced collectively underneath the steering of a gaggle based by the sufferer of a terrorist assault. Since 2013, 49 victims and 6 former extremists have reconciled via the Alliance for a Peaceable Indonesia, or AIDA. They’ve visited round 150 faculties in components of Indonesia referred to as hotbeds for extremist recruiters, sharing their tales with greater than 8,000 college students.

The hope is that if former terrorists and victims can be taught to see one another as human, they’ll cease the cycle of vengeance. Whereas reconciliation efforts have been launched after a number of large-scale conflicts — similar to South Africa’s post-apartheid Fact and Reconciliation Fee — few makes an attempt have been made in circumstances of terrorism.

“It’s troublesome for everybody to undergo this,” says Gema Varona, a Spanish researcher who studied reconciliation conferences between militants from the Basque separatist group ETA and their victims. “However it is smart, as a result of in terrorism, victims have been objectified. … So we’d like that empathy.”

Victims and perpetrators can be taught to grasp one another with out legitimizing the violence, says Brunilda Pali, a board member of the European Discussion board for Restorative Justice.

“Understanding can assist so much,” she says. “However it doesn’t imply forgiving.”

For Erniati, there was nothing at first to grasp. How might she presumably perceive one thing so horrific?

And why would she wish to?


Indonesia Apology from a Terrorist
Firdia Lisnawati–APPictures of Gede Badrawan and his household are seen as Ni Luh Erniati and her son undergo household albums in Bali, Indonesia on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Gede, Erniati’s late husband, was considered one of 202 folks killed within the 2002 bombings in Bali’s nightclub district.

Erniati doesn’t keep in mind the primary time she noticed the good-looking, quiet waiter with the wavy black hair. However she remembers how a lot she and her fellow waitresses on the Sari Membership idolized him.

In contrast to the opposite males who labored on the common nightclub, Gede Badrawan didn’t flirt with prospects. He solely had eyes for Erniati.

Gede by no means requested her on a correct first date. They only fell right into a relationship, after which into love, and a yr later, into marriage. Two sons adopted.

As a father, Gede was form and doting. He took the household to play soccer at Kuta Seaside, and to their favourite park. That park is the supply of considered one of Erniati’s most valuable reminiscences: of her youthful son Made taking his first steps and beginning to tumble, and of Gede catching him.

Round 11 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2002, Erniati had simply settled into mattress when a blast shattered the stillness.

She thought it was {an electrical} explosion. She didn’t know {that a} suicide bomber had detonated himself inside Paddy’s Pub, throughout the road from the Sari Membership. She didn’t know that seconds later, a van carrying an enormous bomb and parked in entrance of the membership had exploded. She wouldn’t know till a witness advised her a lot later that Gede had been standing close to the van.

Erniati overheard folks exterior speaking about bombs and physique components. She advised herself Gede would return house after his shift ended.

When he didn’t, she grew frantic. She needed to seek for him, however couldn’t depart their sons — aged 9 and 1 — house alone. So Erniati, a Hindu, prayed for Gede till a pal arrived to look at the boys. As she sped towards the membership on one other pal’s motorcycle, she reassured herself: “My husband is alive. My husband is alive.”

When she obtained there, she knew immediately that he was not. The membership was a wasteland. On the hospital, she noticed our bodies so mangled they have been unrecognizable.

The bombings had been carried out by al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. The assault killed largely Western vacationers.

It took 4 months earlier than Erniati obtained affirmation that her husband was among the many lifeless. When the forensics officer lastly known as, Erniati might handle just one query: “Precisely what situation is my husband’s physique in?”

“We in all probability recognized about 70% of him,” the officer replied. They’d not discovered his head or his forearms or his stomach or something from the knees down.

For greater than a yr, Erniati continued to make Gede’s breakfast, fastidiously laying the meals on the desk each morning, and throwing it away each night time. He had been stolen from her so abruptly that a part of her nonetheless felt he would come house.

Her tears made Made cry, so she shut herself within the toilet to weep alone. She pretended for years that his father was merely away for work. He was 9 earlier than she advised him the reality.

Within the midst of her agony, she looked for solutions. However there have been none to be discovered.


Greater than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Bali, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Ali Fauzi had obtained phrase of the carnage.

He was, he says, as shocked as the remainder of the world. Although he was considered one of Jemaah Islamiyah’s most expert bombmakers, and although three of his brothers had helped orchestrate the assault, Fauzi says he knew nothing of the plot.

He was raised within the east Java village of Tenggulun, which might turn out to be an epicenter of Islamic extremism. His radicalization, he says, was closely influenced by his large brother Ali Ghufron. Ghufron, who usually glided by the alias Mukhlas, studied at an Islamic boarding college underneath the non secular chief of Jemaah Islamiyah.

In 1994, the group despatched Fauzi to a military-style camp within the Philippines, the place he honed his data of explosives. He grew to become Jemaah Islamiyah’s chief bomb teacher, instructing numerous males — together with his brothers — the best way to assemble deadly units.

Every part unraveled after the bombs erupted in Bali.

His brothers Mukhlas, Amrozi and Ali Imron have been charged with the assault, together with a number of different members of Jemaah Islamiyah. Fauzi discovered himself on a police needed record and fled to the Philippines, the place he says he was jailed for 3 years on a cost of illegally becoming a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Entrance. He was then extradited to Indonesia.

Fauzi was by no means charged with the bombings, however he spent months in police detention in Jakarta. It was there that the kindness of a police officer who helped get him medical remedy started to chip away at his convictions about folks he had lengthy seen because the enemy.

But it wasn’t till an evening years later, when he discovered himself gazing a Dutch man named Max Boon, that Fauzi actually understood the horror of his life’s work.


Boon was sitting in his lodge room, ready for a former terrorist to knock on his door. He was terrified.

4 years earlier, a suicide bomber had detonated his units within the Jakarta JW Marriott foyer lounge, the place then-33-year-old Boon was attending a enterprise breakfast. Police suspected the assault had been orchestrated by Jemaah Islamiyah.

Boon suffered burns to over 70 % of his physique. Medical doctors amputated most of his left leg and his decrease proper leg.

But the assault hadn’t shaken Boon’s perception within the goodness of people. He believed that had the bomber met him earlier than the Marriott assault, he might need realized Boon wasn’t his enemy.

Boon threw himself into peacebuilding efforts, working via the Worldwide Centre for Counter-Terrorism on the Hague.

Fauzi, in the meantime, had been working to assist deradicalize Islamic militants throughout Indonesia. Which is how he ended up shaking fingers with Boon at a terrorism consciousness convention in 2013.

Boon had already been planning a venture by which terrorism victims would share their tales with college students in areas focused by extremist recruiters. He invited Fauzi to cease by his room to debate the thought.

Although Fauzi was not linked to the bombing that destroyed Boon’s legs, Boon knew his historical past. As he waited, a darkish thought rattled him: What if Fauzi was coming to complete the job?

However as Fauzi listened to the Dutch man speak about peace, he felt his coronary heart crack.

That Boon, who was of a unique religion, might forgive those that had triggered him such ache rocked Fauzi to his core. He stared on the good-looking younger man sitting earlier than him, with no legs the place legs ought to be. And for the primary time, he actually understood what a bomb does to a physique and to a life.

Fauzi started to cry, and wrapped Boon in a hug. Boon hugged him again. Fauzi rapidly agreed to fulfill different victims.

On the airport the subsequent day, Fauzi sailed via safety. However Boon’s prosthetic legs set off the steel detector, forcing him to endure a pat-down. Boon turned to Fauzi and quipped: “So the previous terrorist they let stroll via, however the sufferer they’ve to regulate.”

The previous bombmaker burst out laughing and a friendship was born.

They’d discovered the humanity in one another. Boon might solely hope that when the others met Fauzi, they’d discover the identical.


Erniati was filling her plate at a lodge buffet when Fauzi first approached her. Her coronary heart pounded. How had she gotten right here?

Months earlier, Boon had met with Erniati and several other different bombing victims to current his concept. Erniati had balked.

For 12 years, she had struggled to maneuver past her anger. The executions of Amrozi, Mukhlas and one other convicted perpetrator had introduced her no reduction. The prospect of sitting down with a former terrorist sounded loopy.

A couple of victims, nonetheless, agreed to fulfill Fauzi for AIDA’s pilot venture. Afterward, their evaluations have been constructive. Erniati warmed to the thought. Perhaps he might reply her questions.

However now, gazing Fauzi contained in the lodge the place she and 4 different victims had gathered to fulfill him, she had no concept what to ask.

Fauzi’s coronary heart was pounding, too. “Good day,” he stated with a smile. “How are you?”

Erniati bristled. How might he smile after what he had completed?

Her reply was curt: “I’m from Bali.”

“I’m sorry,” he stated. “I apologize for what my brothers and my associates have completed.”

However Erniati couldn’t get previous his grin.

Fauzi noticed the way in which the opposite victims have been him.

They hate me, he thought.


That night time, Fauzi couldn’t sleep. He lay in mattress, fretting over what to say to Erniati and the others at their first official assembly.

Once they lastly convened round a desk, Fauzi felt like a defendant on trial. Then Erniati started to inform her story.

As Fauzi listened, his awkwardness morphed into anguish. The picture of Erniati trying to find Gede amid the smoking ruins, of her struggles to lift their sons alone, was insufferable.

Fauzi had lengthy been pleased with his abilities as a bombmaker. However in that second, he wished he might erase every thing he’d ever identified about bombs.

He started to weep. “I’m sorry,” he stated via tears. “I’m very sorry.”

Erniati checked out Fauzi and felt one thing shift inside her. He was in ache, simply as she was. Their ache got here from totally different locations, but it surely was ache all the identical.

What he stated meant much less to her than what he felt. To Erniati, apologies are simply phrases. However the potential to grasp one other particular person’s struggling, she says, goes to the core of who you might be.

The anger that had lengthy suffocated her started to elevate.

Fauzi excused himself to scrub his tearstained face. When he returned, he advised his personal story, about his path out and in of radical ideology, and his dedication to peace.

His apologies, although, weren’t welcomed by all. One sufferer angrily rejected his phrases.

Fauzi understood. Have been the state of affairs reversed, he says, he doubts he can be as accepting as Boon and Erniati.

Over the subsequent few years, Erniati and Fauzi grew nearer. They visited faculties with AIDA, sharing their story of reconciliation. Fauzi began a basis known as the Circle of Peace, which helps deradicalize extremists. Erniati was moved by his efforts, which appeared a real try to atone.

In the future, Erniati requested Fauzi if she might see his house. It was a surprising request; The bombers had plotted the assault that killed her husband in a home not far-off, and Mukhlas and Amrozi’s households stay simply throughout the road.

However she needed to see how Fauzi lived. And so, with some trepidation, Boon and others from AIDA agreed. As their automotive rolled into Fauzi’s village, Erniati felt like she was getting into a lion’s den.

When she arrived at Fauzi’s house, nonetheless, she discovered it reassuringly regular. There was laundry scattered round, identical to at her home. Fauzi launched her to his spouse and youngsters and confirmed her his goats.

When he needed to break free to show a category at Islamic college, he despatched the group to a water park together with his pal Iswanto, one other former Jemaah Islamiyah militant. Erniati and Iswanto rode the rollercoaster collectively; for her, the journey was scarier than the one-time terrorist.

She and Fauzi grew to become associates on Fb. Fauzi despatched Erniati a gem she had as soon as talked about was lovely. She had it made right into a necklace.

However she nonetheless couldn’t settle for what his brothers had completed.


Erniati stands barefoot on the verandah of her modest house, slicing scissors via black cloth as Hindu chants ring out from a close-by temple. That is how she has saved her household alive for 17 years, via a small garment firm an Australian man arrange for Balinese bombing widows.

Her colleague, Warti, swings by. Like Erniati, Warti’s husband was killed within the assault. In contrast to Erniati, she has no want to fulfill anybody related together with his killers. For her, all of that’s finest left up to now. To fulfill now, she says, would solely trigger her extra ache.

“I don’t wish to dwell and preserve interested by it,” she says.

Erniati understands this. She runs the Isana Dewata Basis, an advocacy group for bombing victims, and is aware of everybody heals in several methods.

And reconciliation doesn’t assist everybody. Karen Brouneus, a Swedish psychologist, studied the results of Rwanda’s post-genocide, community-based courtroom system, which centered on reconciliation. Her survey of 1,200 Rwandans discovered that those that participated within the courts had increased ranges of melancholy and PTSD than those that didn’t.

Those that have studied reconciliation efforts say victims must not ever be compelled into them. The victims in AIDA’s packages are all voluntary, Boon says. The muse additionally fastidiously vets former extremists to make sure they’ve actually reformed, checking their background with Indonesian researchers and slowly attending to know them.

AIDA says the outcomes of its efforts have been promising: Friendships have shaped between former terrorists and victims. And after sharing their tales at faculties, college students’ attitudes towards violence modified considerably, includinga 68% lower in those that agree they’re entitled to revenge in the event that they or their household fell sufferer to violence.

Fauzi himself acknowledges that reconciliation wouldn’t work for each former militant.

“I understand that people are totally different from each other,” he says. “So it’s not straightforward to take their hearts as an entire.”

The individuality of those bonds is one thing that Jo Berry understands intimately. In 1984, Berry’s father was killed in a bombing by the Irish Republican Military. In 2000, she requested to fulfill the person who planted the bomb, Patrick Magee, and the 2 grew to become associates. But she has met loads of former IRA activists she hopes to by no means meet once more.

“It’s not like there’s one components,” she says. “And that’s why I believe it’s actually onerous.”

Erniati discovered that her heat towards Fauzi didn’t carry over to his brothers. In 2015, she visited considered one of them, Ali Imron, in jail. He too apologized, however she wasn’t satisfied.

Her emotions towards the executed Amrozi and Mukhlas are much more muddied.

With regards to them, she says, she simply needs to overlook.


On a sunny morning in east Java, Erniati and Fauzi sit on his sofa, nibbling dates. The smile that after enraged Erniati she now returns.

Exterior, round a dozen ex-Jemaah Islamiyah militants put together for an area bicycle race. Erniati smiles politely at them, however retains her distance.

Fauzi nonetheless wrestles with guilt, however Erniati’s acceptance of him has lessened the sting.

Erniati continues to fulfill with former militants. She hopes her story can put them on the precise path. Her unhappiness returns from time to time. However her anger is gone.

Later, she heads to lunch with Iswanto, the ex-militant with whom she’d ridden the rollercoaster years earlier than. Alongside the way in which, he gestures towards a fenced-off enclosure on the aspect of the highway.

This, he tells her, is the burial web site of Amrozi and Mukhlas.

Erniati stares on the grassy plot. Sometime, she says, she wish to place flowers on their graves and ship up a prayer.

She’s going to pray for God to forgive the boys who killed her husband.

Not as a result of she accepts what they did. However as a result of if God can forgive them, even when she will be able to’t, then possibly their spirits can assist deliver the world what Fauzi’s friendship helped deliver her: peace.


Related Press author Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.