About the Author(s)

Yudi Setianto symbol
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Politic Sciences, Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia

Sanggar Kanto symbol
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Politic Sciences, Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia

Darsono Wisadirana symbol
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Politic Sciences, Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia

Anif Chawa Fatma symbol
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Politic Sciences, Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia

M. Chairul Basrun Umanailo Email symbol
Department of Agrotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Iqra Buru, Namlea, Indonesia


Setianto, Y., Kanto, S., Wisadirana, D., Fatma, A.C. & Umanailo, M.C.B., 2022, ‘Transforming preman to radical Islamic Laskar in Solo, Central Java’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 78(4), a7285. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7285

Original Research

Transforming preman to radical Islamic Laskar in Solo, Central Java

Yudi Setianto, Sanggar Kanto, Darsono Wisadirana, Anif Chawa Fatma, M. Chairul Basrun Umanailo

Received: 10 Dec. 2021; Accepted: 14 Apr. 2022; Published: 27 June 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The development of radical Islamic understanding amongst abangan society is a paradox because there is a dichotomy between santri and abangan. This study aims to describe and analyse the transformation of preman or thugs into members of the radical Islamic army in Solo, Central Java. This research reveals why Solo is the base of a radical Islamic Laskar, how premans are predisposed to become members of the Islamic Laskar, and the types of radical Islam of this former preman. This type of research uses qualitative methods and a descriptive phenomenology approach with the social construction theory from Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. The results reveal that the rise of radical Islamic Laskar organisations is because of the local conditions of the community life in Solo. They are the leaders of Islamic troops, as an essential role of agents is to lead the social construction of preman to become members of the Laskar. Meanwhile, the type of Islamic radicalism of the preman was categorised as pseudoradicalism and fake radicalism.

Contribution: This research contributes to the study of radicalism formed by religious organisations. This study describes and analyses in depth the transformation of the preman into members of the radical Islamic army in the city of Solo and the base of the radical Islamic Laskar. The most important finding of this article is the Islamic radicalism of the preman, which is categorised as pseudoradicalism and fake radicalism.

Keywords: preman; Laskar; Islam; radical; Solo.


The trichotomy of Clifford Geertz in the book The Religion of Java divides Javanese society into priyayi, santri and abangan (Geertz 1973). In the modern context, the meaning of abangan has undergone a shift. Assuming that during Clifford Geertz’s research period in the 1960s, abangan was identical to those who upheld the syncretic Javanese tradition. In that case, the abangan means being a Muslim who is less obedient in carrying out Islamic law, especially the obligatory prayers. The more common term for contemporary abangan is Islamic Kartu Tanda Penduduk (KTP) or identity card (Hanik 2016). This Islamic KTP is found in various social strata in society, one of which is preman. Warsito (2018) initially found the religious activities of preman in Semanggi, Solo City.

In general, the people of Solo or Surakarta in Central Java tend to be categorised as contemporary abangan, not santri. However, according to a previous study and journalist investigation, Densus 88 made some assumptions about Solo city, which was thought to be the base of radical Islamic groups (Van Bruinessen 2014; DW 2016; Ricklefs 2012). The development of radical Islamic understanding amongst abangan society is a paradox because there is a dichotomy between santri and abangan. On the other hand, the radical Islamic organisation that stands out is Laskar Islamic radicalism. In this situation, more analyses in scientific studies need to challenge the assumption of how Solo became the centre of the Laskar Islamic radicalism.

On the other hand, it appears that the preman in Solo as an essential part of the radical Islamic army is more than just a paradox. In this context, preman is a subvariant of abangan. The term ‘preman’, according to the Big Indonesian Dictionary, refers to people who commit crimes or thuggee. Meanwhile, thuggery is a lifestyle that promotes violence. Preman are often perceived as individuals with tattoos who hang around whilst disturbing the safety and comfort of the community. Preman is synonymous with ‘free’ and ‘wildlife’, so they are considered far from social norms in society.

In recent years, preman in Solo have become part of a radical Islamic group. In general, the relationship between preman and radical Islamic groups is more than just a dichotomy – it is diametric. The remarkable conversion must first be followed by repentance. Generally, repentance is related to the religious experience of each individual. However, the interesting thing in this research is the discovery of mass conversions of preman, and most of them are members of Laskar Islamic radical organisations. Through the social construction theory approach from Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann (Light, Berger & Luckmann 1967), the existence of radicals from preman is explored through dialectics, externalisation, objectivation and internalisation. How do they adapt to their sociocultural processes and interactions in an intersubjective world and identify themselves in social institutions?

This study also reveals and analyses how ex-preman can survive economically. Previously, they made money by engaging in criminal activity. After undergoing a spiritual conversion, they realised that they must abandon their former illegal practices.

The ex-preman in these Laskar Islamic radical organisations often consider themselves ‘sharia police’ when the state police have failed to eradicate immorality. However, whether they are categorised as radical Islamic groups is related to the characteristics of radical Islam. Apart from all, the fact is that many Solo people feel comfortable with the existence of radical Islamic leaders for various reasons. However, some people do not agree with their actions because they are considered to interfere with the privacy of the community’s life, and their actions are considered to violate state regulations.

Research methods

The method used in this research is qualitative research. This study uses a descriptive phenomenological approach based on Husserl’s philosophy and the social construction theory from Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann (Light et al. 1967). Phenomenology views human behaviour, what they say and what they do as a product of how people interpret their world to capture the meaning of a person’s behaviour; researchers try to see everything from the perspective of the person involved in the situation that is the subject of his study (Aspers & Corte 2019). Through dialectics, externalisation, objectivation, and internalisation, the social construction theory of Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann (Light et al. 1967) is explored.

The data analysis process has been carried out since the beginning of the research, along with the initial data collection. Furthermore, the data obtained were compared interactively between data reduction and data presentation to obtain results. This method, known as a braided model or interactive analysis, is done in conjunction with the data collection process. This study’s data analysis techniques included data collection, data condensation, data presentation and conclusion (Corbin & Strauss 2012).

In this study, one of the data collection techniques used was observation, where researchers carried out the data collection in the field by making direct observations of the object under study. Another technique used was in-depth interviews. This is a process of obtaining information for research purposes, in which the interviewer asks relevant questions to the person (informant) being interviewed, either with or without using an interview guide (Maxwell & Reybold 2015; Sugiyono 2017). The reason researchers use in-depth interviews is that the advantage of this method lies in the accuracy of the data obtained from an informant, not influenced by outside parties.

The last technique used is documentation. This method is done by recording or copying existing data in the research location. Usually, this data is in the form of secondary data or existing data, for example, archives or other documents in the field related to this research.


Social construction from preman to Islamic radicalism

The Islamic radicalism movement in Solo is not always synonymous with Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s institutions, such as Jama’ah Islamiyah (Saloom 2019). Paradoxically, the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, or Jama’ah Anshorut Tauhid, is linked to local Laskar in Solo, such as the Surakarta Islamic Youth Front (FPIS), Laskar Jundullah, Laskar Umat Islam Surakarta (LUIS), Hawariyyun to Tim Hisbah in Solo, with preman membership. The Islamic army and preman are at different poles and even hostile. Members of the Laskar are generally santri, whilst preman are abangan. Laskar struggled to enforce religious law, whilst preman were the foremost perpetrators of violating religious law. Their only similarity is that both of them are identical to the perpetrators of violence in society.

The preman started becoming a part of the radical group by means of a process called ‘laskarisation’ (Abdullah, Kamaruddin & Halim 2019; Wildan 2013). According to Khalid, a friend of Sigit and one of our informants when being interviewed, one of the figures is Hermawan Wijayanto (better known as Sigit Qordhawi). Sigit was initially a young abangan figure. He was known as an active person in rock band activities as a vocalist; however, after the fall of the New Order, he underwent a radical change in the orientation of his life. He abandoned the world of young people and became interested in ghiroh Islam by establishing Laskar Bismillah to fight the increasing immorality in Solo.

According to Khalid, Sigit Qordhawi rose to prominence after leading a fight against the perpetrators who sold liquor at the Waru Doyong Restaurant in Langenharjo, Grogol Sukoharjo Regency, in October 2005. The violence at this restaurant made Sigit and his friends Khalid and Award become suspects, and they spent several months in prison. In prison, they preached to fellow inmates, who were generally criminals. Some of these preman eventually changed from abangan to religious people. The relationship between preman and Laskar Islamic radical groups began from this prison.

Sigit shifted the orientation of the sweeping area from places of immorality to villages after he was released from prison, according to Khalid, so that he could face the general public. Because of this radical shift in orientation, Islamic paramilitary groups have clashed with community members. When Khalid started to oppose them, their friendship was severed because of different strategies concerning nahi munkar. Since then, Sigit’s new group has often experienced conflicts with groups of preman who live in society.

The most phenomenal conflict between members of the Islamic army and a group of preman occurred in the case of the murder of a well-known preman in Solo, Heru Yulianto, known as Kipling. In March 2008, the preman led by Kipli held a liquor party on the street in the Kusumodilagan area, Kalurahan Joyosuran, Pasar Kliwon District, Solo City. The preman were reprimanded by the congregation members of the Muslimin Mosque, Kusumodilagan, because they seemed to be disturbing the community’s peace. Kipling and his friends were angry with the reprimand, so they took violent action against their adversaries. Kipling’s action sparked anger from the Islamic paramilitary organisation in Solo because Kipli’s action was interpreted as a declaration of war. As a result of his actions, Kipli was attacked by members of the Laskar so that he died tragically, whilst seven members of the Laskar became suspects.

The Kipling murder case further strengthened the Laskar’s reputation as a force reckoned with by the preman. The membership of the Laskar group increased in number. In contrast, the preman group became traumatised by this situation. According to Mr Irm, since the Kipli murder case, he has felt the difference in treatment of the preman. The preman seemed very polite and respectful when they met him and other mosque activists. His village area is well-known as a preman base, and some immoral activity cases have decreased dramatically.

The reputation of the Laskar was more dominant after a significant conflict between the Islamic army and the preman group led by Iwan Wallet in May 2012. Iwan was accused of assaulting members of the Laskar in the Gandekan area, Jebres District, Solo. A few days later, hundreds of Laskar from various groups in Solo Raya came to Iwan Walet’s power base in Gandekan (Sarna & Bhatia 2020). Even though the problem of the conflict began with simple things, this conflict seemed to be gaining prominence, so the Mayor of Solo at that time, Joko Widodo or Jokowi, had to step in to handle the problem. The Mayor of Solo (now the president of Indonesia) succeeded in reducing the conflict through dialogue. In January 2019, the conflict between Iwan Walet and members of the Laskar recurred in prison in Solo. This conflict did not escalate because the two groups were separated in different prisons.

After the series of events mentioned earlier, the reputation of the Islamic Laskar group was becoming more dominant. On the contrary, preman from throughout Solo appeared to be calming down. On the contrary, preman from throughout Solo appeared to be calming down. There has also been a massive ‘conquest’ of Laskar members to the preman over the past few years. As part of the activity Amar ma’ruf, Laskar warriors approached the preman in a nonviolent manner, but if the preman fought back, they would use force to eradicate the evil. The preman were given four options: firstly, to repent, stop thuggery activities and to join the army; secondly, to repent, stop thuggery activities and become ordinary people; and fourthly, if they were unable to stop thuggery activities, they were encouraged to move away from the Solo area.

If the preman rejected the available options, it was considered a statement of ‘war’ against the Laskar. In general, preman chose one of the options offered. The first option was chosen quite a lot so that there was a process of ‘laskarisation’ of the preman. Some preman chose the other options, and if they chose the fourth option, they carried out thuggery activities outside the Solo area.

This process of laskarisation was preceded by religious and spiritual conversion. According to Max Heirich, religious conversion consists of two types: firstly, a conversion to another religion or belief system; secondly, the action of a person or group that makes a profound change in religion or repentance. In this context, preman experience the second type of religious conversion, repentance, because generally, preman are included in the abangan or Islamic KTP. The religious conversions of preman also consist of two types, namely, genuine and nongenuine. Genuine repentance comes from one’s awareness, whilst nongenuine repentance starts from compulsion. In general, the transformation of preman into radical Islamic warriors through dialectics, externalisation, objectivation and internalisation is explained in the following section.

Firstly, externalisation is the initial process of social construction as a moment of adaptation to the sociocultural world. At this moment, the means used are language and action. This moment begins when members of the Islamic army come to the preman to be given information regarding the meaning and essence of life. The goal is for preman to leave the world of thuggery. Gradually, the preman were made aware of carrying out the principal obligation, namely the obligatory prayers. Meanwhile, religious understanding is provided through religious studies, which are held regularly. Conceptually, the moment of adjustment to the sociocultural world in the form of expressions in holy texts (the Qur’an and hadith) is used to provide legitimacy for the thoughts and actions of members of the Laskar.

This preman listened to the religious ideologies of the radical Ustaz, who had been brought in to deliver an exclusive sermon. This material provision is exclusive and limited, only to be participated in by certain groups. However, they are also provided with Islamic studies on various occasions, and it is open to anyone. However, for an open study, the material is moderate with moderate Ustaz speakers (Barabash & Zhukov 2019; Kafid 2018). In addition, physical training is also provided in the form of self-defence training. This physical exercise aims to maintain their performance and stamina as a provision when on the field facing other groups that attack them. The ex-preman still have the character of ‘fighters’ as original radical Islamic groups in general. Of course, these characters are influenced by the previous thuggery culture.

Secondly, objectivation is a social reality that seems to be outside human beings so that it becomes an objective reality. Thus, there are two realities: the subjective reality of the self and the reality outside itself, the objective. Between subjective and objective reality forms a network of personal interactions through institutionalisation (Busher & Bjørgo 2020). The objectivation process can be described as follows. Firstly, the Laskar and preman are two different entities. Islamic Laskar figures are considered individuals with integrity, charisma and a profound understanding of religious rules. Secondly, institutionalisation or institutionalisation, building awareness into action. Process of institutionalisation, the arguments and values of religious guidelines uses to strengthen the legitimacy of their thoughts and actions. They carry out actions in society in the name of amar ma’r ū f nah ī munkar [commanding good and forbidding evil] as justified actions based on religion. Thirdly, habitualisation or habituation is the process by which rational actions have become part of everyday life. There is no need for multiple interpretations of his thoughts and actions. His thoughts and actions have become part of his cognitive and evaluation systems because his consciousness has accepted them, and the evaluation system has also maintained them. Laskar members will take action if things are found around them that deviate from religious norms. Actions range from the gentlest to the most violent. In this objectivation process, the most important thing is the existence of an agent who plays the role of an individual or a group of individuals for the process of awareness, institutionalisation and habitualisation.

Fourthly, internalisation is a process for individuals to identify themselves in their sociocultural world. Internalisation is a moment of drawing social reality into oneself. Social reality is in humans, and in that way, humans will be identified in their sociocultural world. Humans tend to group based on a sense of identity by nature. The interaction barrier cannot reveal on humans with the same identity (Rubiyanto & Abdul Chalim 2018). Likewise, fellow members of the radical Islamic Laskar, especially those from the same background, A preman. Amongst them can freely interact intensively, and with this interaction, self-confidence grows and feels a sense of solidarity as a ‘new santri’ group. Through Amar ma’rūf nahī, munkar is marked with short trouser (isbal pants) and bearded (lihyah) even though there are still tattoo marks on his body. His new life tends to be more exclusive than before by remaining committed to being a ‘sharia police’ in enforcing Amar ma’rūf nahī munkar. They receive religious study material instantly and minimally. Their limited understanding of religion still makes them ‘fanatical’ with their groups and the teachings of their leaders in their groups.

The radical Islamic type of ex-preman Laskar

Change in status from preman to becoming a member of the Islamic Laskar would have consequences related to their livelihoods. Preman survive and worke from the intersection of the world of streets and the world of violence. When they become members of the army, the old jobs have to be left behind. The Laskar leaders are aware of this, so they try to find jobs that do not require special skills. Interviews from various sources and observations made by researchers showed that many preman Laskar became parking attendants throughout the Solo area. Various malls, markets, shops, strategic roads, important buildings and other places where the Islamic army manages parking lots, whilst former pre man uses as parking attendants. Therefore, contrasting found views, The parking attendant with full-body tattoos but wearing trousers above the ankle (isbal) and bearded (lihyah). Cingkrang pants and beard are part of the collective identity of members of the Laskar. The fact shows that there has been a shift in control of parking lots from organised preman to ex-preman members of Islamic Laskar-Laskar organisations (Bindaniji 2020).

According to FX Rudiyatmo, the Mayor of Surakarta for the 2012–2021 period, Islamic troops’ controlling of parking lots by employing ex-preman is procedural and done according to the rules. The paramilitary group participated in the auction or appointment according to the existing rules. According to the current system, expansive and strategic parking spaces are divided among competing bidders. The goal is that certain groups do not monopolise parking lots so as not to cause conflict. Regarding the ex-preman, who are many parking attendants in the Surakarta area, Rudiyatmo agrees with this. According to him, with a steady job and income, former preman will organise their lives more regularly and not be easily influenced by other parties (Muhammad 2017).

In general, ex-preman are in the abangan category. In order to understand religion, the management of the Laskar organisation often invited them to learn to read the Qur’an and study the basics of Islamic insight. In its development, several problems emerged related to the consequences of the transformation of the ex-preman. According to Ustaz Ming, many ex-preman were consistent with their repentance by carrying out their religious obligations and leaving behind their former illegal jobs. They remained active in enforcing nahi munkar whilst matters of amar ma’ruf were left to those who understand religion. However, some amongst them are looking for opportunities and benefits from their new status. The Laskar organisation is used as a place of refuge from their problems. Moreover, there is a principle of ‘right or wrong, he is my friend’ amongst members of the Laskar organisation. Such a principle creates a spirit of blind solidarity that violates religious rules (Yunanto & Damayanti 2017).

In addition, some preman who were members of the Islamic army aimed at taking revenge against their old enemies. Some amongst them are still found to be drug users, drunkards and others who act as they did before joining the Laskar organisation (Kistanto 2008). Money, mobile phones, and other valuables are sometimes taken from sweeping victims. They have recently been acting as guardians for people who are struggling with debt, including the debts of the leasing party taken by the individual. If the debtor has requested protection from paramilitary members, the debt collector will not attempt to collect the debt (Gregg 2014; Post, Ruby & Shaw 2002). In addition, some camp members are buying and selling motorcycles and cars from the debtors who are unable to continue instalments. According to Khalid, a former activist in the early era of the emergence of paramilitary irregulars, the organisation aims to fortify Muslims and preserve the dignity of Islam. The Muslim fortress is maintained by strengthening faith, increasing worship and enforcing amar ma’ruf nahi munkar. It seems that now this spirit has begun to shift. Not infrequently, former preman take advantage of paramilitary organisations for pragmatic interests (Syeikh 2019). Currently, the original values of the Laskar, which has become a stronghold for Muslims, still resides in its members.

The Laskar members who use their status for pragmatic gain will be gradually and naturally eliminated. However, the change from preman to former preman and eventually to members of the Islamic army must be appreciated and respected. In fact, in Solo, immorality is rarely found in public places and must be recognised as a significant contribution from the existence of these Islamic armies (Heirich 1964).

Meanwhile, the results of interviews with the community and observations in the field show that most of the people the researchers met supported the existence of many Laskar for various reasons. A housewife argued that currently, she could build her family’s savings as her husband did not dare to gamble because he was afraid of the presence of the Laskar (Light et al. 1967). Another housewife felt that her current environment felt safer because there were no drunkards and gamblers (Joebagio 2013). The existence of Laskar has also become a behavioural revolution for the younger generation in a region. Previously, the younger generation in their village became gamblers, drunkards and drug users. It has changed towards a new generation leaving the world of immorality, a generation that is more religiously observant and a generation that is more active in work. Thus, the members of the Laskar have become heroes in their communities (Aspers & Corte 2019).

However, some members of the public feel that the existence of Laskar Islam disturbs privacy and public order. Hobbies like gambling and drinking are life choices that must be respected, and not every person can be forced to obey his or her religion (Romadlan 2019). In addition, the spirit of amar ma’ruf nahi munkar cannot be motivated by personal interests for economic gain. Moreover, some of the former preman involved in Laskar membership are still active as drug users (Amin 2020). Sometimes, the actions of unscrupulous members of the Laskar demean the image of Islam. Some unscrupulous soldiers, for instance, stole valuable items from sweeping victims under the pretext of taking ghanimah [war booty]. Likewise, they have become protectors of other people involved in debt because debt collectors support the practice of usury. Thus, the selfish activities of debt collectors need to be curbed. The actions and thoughts of these kinds of Laskar members need to be enhanced so that they are not considered hypocritical. Religious interpretation should not be used for pragmatic interest and personal advantage. Moreover, ex-preman, including abangan groups, instantly transformed into santri, and consequently they did not understand science and law in Islam (Warkum Sumitro 2015).

In various works of literature, the Islamic radicalism group is generally associated with literal religious understanding and radical actions. This group desires to change the condition of society and even the state entirely. Radical religious organisations are committed to the ultimate goal of building an Islamic system. Meanwhile, through the National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), Indonesia identified the criteria for radicalism: intolerance, the concept of takfiri rejecting the Republic of Indonesia and rejecting Pancasila as the state ideology.

When analysing the criteria for radicalism above, preman who are members of the Islamic Laskar organisation in Solo need to identify whether they are part of a radical group. Radicalism is synonymous with a literal understanding of religion, whilst ex-preman do not understand or understand little about the teachings of Islam. Radicalism tries to completely change the condition of society by building an Islamic system, whilst they only carry out eradication of immoral places in the name of amar ma’ruf nahi munkar.

If it is related to the criteria for radicalism according to the BNPT, only the criteria for intolerance are suitable. Intolerance here means narrow-mindedness, that is, intolerance to the actions they had previously committed, such as gambling, drunkenness, drug abuse, prostitution and the like. Meanwhile, other criteria such as the concept of takfiri, rejecting the Republic of Indonesia and rejecting Pancasila do not exist because most of them are uneducated and do not have sufficient religious knowledge, in order to prevent them from thinking about it. The appropriate criteria for radicalism from them are only acts of violence and intolerant behaviour in a narrow sense.

Based on this, the researchers analysed if the members of the army of the former preman consisted of two types of radicalism, pseudoradicalism and fake radicalism. Pseudoradicalism here means if they belong to the type of radical Islam but without sufficient knowledge and understanding of the ideology of radicalism. They have complete faith in Ustaz, who has influenced him to be attracted to and follow the activities of radical groups. They believe that this interpretation will give them more privilege as members of Islamic radical groups. Becoming a member of a radical group brings more honour and prestige than being preman, who are known for violence and thuggery.

Meanwhile, the meaning of fake radicalism here is similar to that of pseudoradicalism, but their activity in Islamic troops is linked to their pragmatic goals, especially the goal of gaining social status and financial gain (Wahid et al. 2020). This situation perpetuates the stereotype amongst members of radical Islamic groups. This was especially evident in the case of some participants who chose this religious interpretation and joined radical Islamic groups for the sake of pragmatic interest and personal advantage. Their spiritual conversion was based on an interest in gaining the honour of their social status and financial condition.

This analysis does not mean that all preman members of radical Islamic organisations can be undoubtedly classified as pseudoradicals or fake radicals. A thug can become a proper radical in a specific process and even become a terrorist. Researchers found that a thug later became a member of a radical army and later became a terrorist. The person has two similar but contrasting life experiences: firstly, the experience of going to prison for a criminal case; secondly, the experience of going to prison because of a terrorism case (Djelantik 2019). Members of the Islamic Laskar organisation, when asked for a response to this terrorist figure, generally respect his reputation as well as his life journey.


Based on the research results in the field related to the transformation from preman to becoming members of the radical Islamic Laskar, it started with a conflict between a group of preman and members of the Laskar so that the two groups knew each other. During its development, the Laskar group became more dominant and even carried out a mass conversion of preman. For the Laskar group, this conquest is part of the mission to amar ma’ruf nahi munkar.

The social construction from preman to Laskar Islam begins with a religious conversion in the form of repentance. The process of social construction is the process of transforming preman into radical Islamic army groups through dialectics, externalisation, objectivation and internalisation. Externalisation through a moment of self-adaptation to the sociocultural world begins when members of the Islamic Laskar come to the preman to be enlightened regarding the meaning and essence of life. The objectivation process is carry the presence of agents who play the role of individuals or groups of individuals for the process of awareness, institutionalisation and habitualization. Internalisation through intensive and open interactions amongst former pr eman. In membership in the Islamic Laskar, self-confidence grows along with feelings of solidarity as a new santri group.

From various analyses, the researchers concluded that the members of the Laskar Islamic group who came from preman are generally categorised as pseudoradicals and fake radicals. However, the conclusion should not be generalised because a preman was also found who became a member of a radical Islamic group and subsequently transformed into a terrorist.


Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

Y.S. planned and developed the methodology of the research Transforming preman to radical Islamic Laskar in Solo, Central. S.K. collected the data and conducted interviews. D.W. wrote the original draft. A.C.F. helped analyse the findings and assisted in drafting the article. M.C. provided input and participated in compiling and improving the article. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


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