08/10/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Arrested on terrorism charges, Abu Bakar Baasyr could get the death penalty

by Mathias Hariyadi
The controversial cleric, accused in the past of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings, is accused again under Indonesia’s anti-terrorism legislation. The accused rejects the charges and members of his organisation call the evidence, propaganda by the “United States and Israel”.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian police has formally charged Abu Bakar Baasyr with terrorism offences. The controversial Muslim preacher and Islamic extremist was arrested yesterday in West Java.

Police spokesman General Edward Aritonang said that the Muslim cleric was arrested under the anti-terror law, that the authorities had evidence that he was involved in paramilitary training and attacks and that he had met members of a notorious Aceh-based terrorist group. If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

The cleric has rejected the charges and his family and members of his organisation, the Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), slammed police for his arrest, blaming propaganda by the enemies of Islam, most notably the United States and Israel.

For their part, police said they had been tracking JAT members for some time, and that they had arrested a number of them in connection with terror cells in Aceh, Tangerang and South Jakarta, where they met at many venues, this according to Senior Police Superintendent Marwoto Soeto. “Sometimes they gathered in Jakarta; other times, in Solo, Central Java, or Aceh,” he explained.

Police also seized some recorded video footage in which Baasyr is seen asking for a video about paramilitary training in Aceh. “Young jihadists were paid to take part in these paramilitary exercises,” Superintendent Soeto said. “He [Baasyr] called on training chiefs to show donors what they did.”

In addition to terrorism, Baasyr was also charged with raising funds for terrorist groups.

Before getting personally involved, Baasyr had two of his most loyal lieutenants, Mustakin and Mustofa, supervise the activities in the training camps. Both of them are now fugitives.

Another one of Baasyr’s men, Dulmatin (aka Joko Pitono), who was originally from Mindanao (Philippines), was also in charge of a training camp. Wanted by police for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings, he was killed in March 2010 in a gun battle with police.

According to General Aritonang, Baasyr was equally active in monitoring military preparations in Aceh where he was planning to set up an al-Qaeda base for Southeast Asia. However, last February, the police raided the camp, sending his plans up in smoke. Eight people died in the operation, five terrorists and three police agents.

Across Indonesia, Baasyr’s arrest has become headline news, partly because police said they uncovered fresh evidence of a plan to detonate car bombs at strategic locations in the capital, including near embassies and luxury hotels, and that the big blowout was set for 17 August, Indonesia’s Independence Day.

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