Female suicide bombings have become increasingly rare among jihadist groups in recent years. Among the only groups consistently employing them is Boko Haram, but extremely little is known about its female suicide bombers’ profiles and whether or not they self-detonate or are arrested beforehand, according to scholarly research on the subject by West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center. In contrast, the excerpted 15 January article in Indonesian-language for benarnews.org, which is affiliated with Radio Free Asia and covers sensitive issues, detailed the radicalization of an Indonesian female suicide bomber.
According to the article, this teenage female suicide bomber, Rezky Fantasya Rullie, came from a family of jihadists. Her parents both committed suicide bombings at a church in Jolo, Philippines during Sunday mass in January 2019, which killed 23 people. That bombing was recently discussed in a 27 January article for the Filipino website rappler.com, which covers terrorism in the country. Following the deaths of her parents, Rullie began living with a bomb-maker, whose bomb killed 15 people at another Jolo church in August 2020. That incident was described in the mainstream Indonesian publication, jakartapost.com. However, the excerpted article states that the bomb-maker was also the nephew of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who himself was an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), commander in the Philippines as well as senior Abu Sayyaf leader. Consistent with this, the article noted Rullie herself was captured by the Philippines’ security forces alongside two Filipino women who had groomed her for a suicide bombing operation and were married to Abu Sayyaf members.
The article also discusses how Indonesian Consul General in the Philippines, Dicky Fabrian, was invited by commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, to meet Rullie and confirm she was Indonesian. Rullie explained how she came to live in the mountainous areas near Jolo and how she was forcibly married to a suicide bomber. The article, therefore, indicated Rullie’s radicalization was largely involuntary and the product of the environment into which her parents brought her. It also stated that the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia resolved to conduct patrols in their border regions, especially maritime areas, to prevent terrorists from crossing from one country to another, as occurred with Rullie and her parents.
Local officials said that Rullie herself was groomed by them to become a suicide bomber.
Source: “Terduga Pelaku Bom Asal Indonesia Mengaku Dipaksa Orangtua Bergabung ISIS (Alleged Indonesian Bomber Claims Parents Forced Her to Join ISIS),” benarnews.org (Affiliated with Radio Free Asia), 15 January 2021. https://www.benarnews.org/indonesian/berita/pembom-asal-indonesia-mengaku-dipaksa-ortu-gabung-isis-01152021211708.html#:~:text=Video-,Terduga%20Pelaku%20Bom%20Asal%20Indonesia%20Mengaku%20Dipaksa%20Orangtua%20Bergabung%20ISIS,diri%20untuk%20misi%20bunuh%20diri.&text=Polisi%20memeriksa%20lokasi%20ledakan%20bom,Filipina%20selatan%2C%2027%20Januari%202019
Pearson, Elizabeth. “Wilayat Shahidat: Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and the Question of the Female Suicide Bomber.” In Boko Haram Beyond the Headlines: Analyses of Africa’s Enduring Insurgency, edited by Jacob Zenn. West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2018
Source: “At least 23 dead in Jolo Cathedral bombing,” rappler.com (Indonesian website covering terrorism in the country), 27 January 2021. https://www.rappler.com/nation/jolo-sulu-cathedral-bombing-january-27-2019
Source: “Twin bombings kill 15, wound scores in Philippine south.” jakartapost.com (mainstream Indonesian news), 24 August 2020. https://www.thejakartapost.com/seasia/2020/08/24/twin-bombings-kill-15-wound-scores-in-philippine-south.html
A young Indonesian woman who was arrested in the southern Philippines while preparing a suicide bomb mission claimed that her parents forced her to join ISIS. Rezky Fantasya Rullie, who is thought to be in her teens or in her early 20s, was granted permission to meet Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian, said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, who was also present at the meeting.
Rullie’s parents killed themselves in twin bomb attacks on a church on Jolo Island in the southern Philippines two years ago. Local officials said that Rullie herself was groomed by them to become a suicide bomber. Last October, Philippine troops arrested Rullie with two Filipinos who were suspected of preparing a suicide attack and who were married to members of the Abu Sayyaf, a pro-ISIS militant group based in the southern Philippines.
The conversation between Fabrian and Rullie covered her personal life. Rullie is believed to have been under the guardianship of Mundi Sawadjaan, a bomb maker who was behind another bomb attack near the same church that left 15 people dead in August, local officials said. Mundi is the nephew of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, an ISIS commander in the Philippines and a senior Abu Sayyaf leader.
According to Vinluan, Indonesia’s consul general said that Jakarta had committed to deploying more assets to guard the common borders between neighboring countries that were easily breached in the fight against terrorism. The Philippines and neighboring countries Indonesia and Malaysia have been conducting joint patrols to secure their maritime borders from militants and piracy under a trilateral cooperation agreement.