A Critical Review of Radical Pathways: Understanding Muslim Radicalization in Indonesia

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Vivek Thakkar
Professor Nancy Florida
ASIAN 464 – Islam in SE Asia
4 April 2013

A Critical Review of Radical Pathways: Understanding Muslim Radicalization in Indonesia

As the Associate Professor and Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, Kumar Ramakrishna has been a frequent speaker on counterterrorism for local and international audiences as well as a regular media commentator on the issue. In Radical Pathways, Ramakrishna applies his research in exploration of why certain Indonesian Muslims turn to violent jihad. Specifically, he explores the Bali night club bombings of 2002 executed by Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), a segment of the Darul …show more content…

What is needed is more rigorous and theoretically informed terrorism scholarship in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia (Ramakrishna 13).
Radical Pathways calls for intensified cooperation across the disciples to generate the kind of integrated knowledge that is needed to counter the increasingly complex challenge of violent Muslim radicalization in Indonesia and beyond (Ramakrishna 14).
Ramakrishna continues to highlight the role of terrorism specialists throughout the course of Radical Pathways but specifically takes the opportunity to do so in Chapter 1 within a section titled Moral and Methodological Issues. There, he describes how previous authors attempting to explain the reasoning behind terrorist attacks have been chastised, and reiterates to “understand is not to forgive”. In an almost pompous manner he articulates, “To put it mildly, the role of the Southeast Asian terrorism analyst is particularly challenging.” His argument draws on the idea that primary sources are difficult to find. Most of the time terrorists cannot directly be questioned; even when they are heard from through public speeches and other various outlets, it can be difficult to separate their propaganda from their actual worldview or recognize that they are the same. That said, Ramakrishna does not draw much at all from public testimonials of

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