Here’s what happened when a girl met the terrorist who killed her mom

19 Feb 2020 / 16:16 H.

ON Sept 2004, a man named Iwan Setiawan was on his motorbike going past the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Sitting behind him was his pregnant wife. “Suddenly there was this incredibly loud sound and we were thrown into the air,“ he told BBC recently.

Iwan didn’t know it was a terrorist bombing linked to Jemaah Islamiyah when it happened. He and his wife were rushed into the hospital and his wife went into emergency labour. That night their son Rizqy was born. However, Iwan’s wife who never fully recovered, succumbed to her injuries two years later and died.

“I lost my best friend, my soul mate, the person who completed me. It’s so painful to talk about it,“ Iwan says.

“I wanted the surviving bombers to die, but I didn’t want them to die quickly,“ he also added that he wanted to die slowly so that they can be tortured first.

As of October 2019, 15 years have passed since the bombing and 13 since the death of his wife. Their son Rizqy and their daughter Sarah, now attend high school. They all recently took a trip to the prison where the terrorists responsible for their mother’s death were incarcerated. “My heart is racing, I am feeling very emotional. I don’t have the words to explain what’s going on in my mind,“ Iwan says.

Thanks to Indonesia’s deradicalisation program which allows militants to meet their victims, Iwan has actually met his wife’s murderers — but this will be the first for his children.

When the family met up with militant Rois in prison, he was in a wheelchair due to a stroke he recently suffered. His daughter Sarah asks him why did he do what he did. Rois replies, “I didn’t do what they said I did. Why did I admit to it? The answer comes by looking at my eye.”

“Maybe when you are older you will understand.”

“I don’t agree with attacks where the victims are Muslims. That’s not right. You cannot kill Muslims - just to hurt a Muslim, it’s not right,“ says Rois.

However, Iwan and his daughter are left deeply disturbed by the encounter with Rois.

“He still thinks he did the right thing. I fear that if he had the chance he would do it again,“ Iwan says while holding back tears.

The family then proceeds to another prison to meet another former militant responsible for the bombing, Ahmad Hassan. Hassan tells the kids, “I never wanted to hurt your father, he just happened to be passing by, and my friend who was carrying the bomb blew it up at that time. I hope that you, the children of Iwan, can forgive me.”

Sarah then asks, “Why did you do something like that? What was the reason?”

To which he replies, “My friends and I were given the wrong education and learning. I wish that we hadn’t acted before we had really gained knowledge and understood what we were doing.”

Before the end of the meeting everyone in the room is seen crying. Iwan and his family seem to have forgiven Hassan, with the group even taking a photos together.

“When I saw Hassan crying - that’s when I knew he was a good person. He can feel the suffering and pain of others,“ says Iwan.

“Maybe at that time he was influenced by the wrong people with the wrong ideas, and now he has opened his heart.”

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