Noor Huda Ismail


He was born in and currently lives in

When he was 12 years old, Noor Huda Ismail was sent by his parents to pursue further education at the Islamic Boarding School, Al Mukmin Pesantren of Ngruki in Solo, Central Java, where he spent his formative years. While at Ngruki, Noor Huda was inducted into the Darul Islam (DI) movement and was still a member while pursuing his further studies at the Institut Agama Islam Negeri (State Institute of Islamic Studies), Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, where he studied Arab Literature and Communications, and at Gajah Mada University, where he studied Communications and Journalism.

As a journalist, he was assigned to cover the 2002 Bali bombings – which killed 202 people. It was a turning point for him because he found out one of the men behind the bombing was one of the pupils of Al Mukmin Islamic Boarding School. The experience is part of the reason why he has spent the past 10 years studying the reason people get involved in political violence.

In 2005, Ismail won a scholarship to study international security at St Andrew’s University in Scotland. During his time in Europe, he traveled and visited several terrorist hotspots. In 2009, he started a café in Java and has since worked with about 15 convicted terrorists in a program in which they work in the kitchen but also in accounting and marketing, depending on interests and skills.

Noor Huda is developing his work through a trial and error approach with ex-detainees. To further address the issues of radicalization, Noor Huda founded the Institute for International Peace Building in 2008.

Noor Huda Ismail is the author of the memoir “My Friend, the Terrorist?”, published by Mizan in 2010. Together with filmmaker Daniel Rudi, he maked his book as a documentary film entitled “Prison and Paradise” which won the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Award 2011 in Japan.

Besides being a social activist, Huda writes for the Washington Post, the Straits Times, the Australian, Rolling Stone, The Jakarta Post, Kompas, Tempo, etc. Huda is also a frequent speaker at various international and local scientific forums and media.

Since July 2014, Huda lives with his wife, Desy Ery Dani and two sons, Ilmi (6) and Salman (4) in Melbourne, Australia to continue PhD on the Australian Scholarship Award 2013. He is completing a documentary film titled “Jihad selfie: Searching for the Black Swan”. The film is about the life of Maulana Akbar (16), who joined ISIS through social media.1

  1. Pulau Imaji