Documentary maker went to school with Bali bombers

Mr Ismail’s interest in counter-terrorism is personal.

In 2002, when the Bali bombings rocked Indonesia, Mr Ismail realised that he had lived and grown up with one of the suspects.

“My dad sent me to an Islamic boarding school when I was 12,” he said.

“And the school was founded by the head of Jemaah Islamiyah. So, literally, I shared a room with those Bali bombers when I was 12 for six years.”

Mr Ismail realised if things had gone differently, he too could have continued on a path to terrorism.

“Because of different trajectories, I missed the chance to get a scholarship to study in Pakistan back then Afghanistan,” he said.

“Because I was tainted, and I took a date with the daughter of the founder of the school, I was considered as not devoted enough to pass that test.”

He said the need for deradicalisation in Indonesia was urgent and hopes his documentary will go some way towards meeting that need and making Indonesians think twice about joining IS.

“If we see more Indonesians travelling there, they will eventually come back and then it will create problems in Indonesia,” he said.

“It’s very simple — I don’t want to see more young people to travel to Syria.” (

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