Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Radical Indonesia Preacher Could Face Death Penalty
Indonesian police said Tuesday top radical Islamist preacher Abu Bakar Bashir could face the death penalty over his alleged role in terror plots with Al-Qaeda-linked militants. Bashir, who was arrested on Monday, is accused of funding and training extremists who were planning a wave of attacks in Jakarta.
Police have arrested 102 terror suspects, of whom 66 were detained, in a series of raids nationwide since discovering the training facility in Aceh, northern Sumatra island. Police said they found that several Islamic groups from regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) had also chosen Bashir as the leader for a new terror cell dubbed "Al-Qaeda in Aceh". The cell had planned a series of attacks, including using car bombs, on at least two embassies, several international hotels and the police headquarters in the capital.
The police discovered "Al-Qaeda in Aceh" in February and killed its leader Dulmatin, a JI militant, in March. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the police and military to increase security over an apparent plot against the president and officials at the August 17 independence day ceremony. In raids in West Java on Saturday, police arrested five
suspects, seized explosive materials at a bomb factory as well as a vehicle belonging to a French national which they suspected could be used as a car bomb.
Bashir, who is known for his hardline rhetoric, founded JAT in 2008 as a legitimate -- although radical -- group with which to continue agitating for Islamic law and militant jihad. He served almost 26 months for conspiracy over the 2002 attacks by JI on Bali nightspots that killed 202 people, before being cleared and released in 2006. The cleric was jailed by the Suharto regime from 1978 to 1982 for inciting people to reject the secular national ideology in favour of an Islamic state.