Building U.S.-Indonesia Mutual Understanding Since 1994

Leveraging Terrorist Dropouts to Counter Violent Extremism: Lessons from Southeast Asia

Upcoming Event at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Featuring Ms. Susan Sim

Ms. Susan Sim will discuss her recent work on former extremists as counter-narrative messengers, focusing on the Southeast Asian experience with Jemaah Islamiyah.

Since the discovery of Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bali bombings of 2002, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have sought to influence the narrative of violence related to political Islam through leveraging “terrorist dropouts”. These dropouts have been through rehabilitation programs designed to encourage their continued disengagement from terrorism following release from prison or detention. Indonesia, in particular, has been at the forefront of using terrorist leaders and their bona fides as “mujahidin” to renounce violence, encouraging them to write memoirs, ideological monographs and to speak out publicly. However, these dropouts still see themselves as jihadists obliged to defend their faith, albeit with a conscience and compliant with theological doctrine that forbids the killing of women, children and outside a state of war.

As a Visiting Scholar at the Qatar International Academy for Security Studies, Ms Sim has interviewed terrorist dropouts as well as officials in charge of terrorist rehabilitation programs in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Due to space considerations, please RSVP to Angela Dickey (  and/or Nate Wilson ( this Friday, April 19.

About the Speaker

Ms. Susan Sim is Vice President for Asia at The Soufan Group, an international strategic consultancy with offices in New York, Doha, London and Singapore.

Ms. Sim has held positions in and out of government. She has been Deputy Chief of Mission at the Singapore Embassy in Washington DC, senior intelligence analyst in charge of counter-terrorism and counter-espionage at the Internal Security Department, Indonesia Bureau Chief for the Singapore Straits Times, and Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University. She is currently an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, as well as Adjunct Lecturer at the Home Team Academy and Consulting Editor to the Home Team Journal. She also teaches at the NATO Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism in Ankara, Turkey, and is on the Editorial Board of Police Practice & Research, an international journal that presents current and innovative police research as well as operational and administrative practices from around the world.

A graduate of Oxford University, United Kingdom, Ms. Sim is author of Making Singapore Safe: Thirty Years of the National Crime Prevention Council (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2011). She has also published on suicide bombing and terrorist rehabilitation.