The authorities suspect Baasyr of being the head of Al-Qaidah, a terrorist cell based in Aceh, and al-Qaeda’s top man in Southeast Asia. He has also been charged with funding a training camp for terrorists in Aceh to the tune of a million dollars.
Despite Baasyr’s refusal to answer questions, police spokesman Inspector General Edward Aritonang said that the authorities had evidence against the preacher, including video footage and records of financial transactions.
“Our information points to him as Al-Qaidah chief,” Aritonang explained. “This group of terrorists is new and includes various extremists, with members from Jemaah Islamiyah, Indonesian Islamic State, Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) and Kompak”.
Baasyr’s lawyer, Achmad Midan, did confirm that the cleric, who heads JAT, funded paramilitary training for the al-Qaidah group, but denied that it was for terrorist purposes. Instead, he claimed it was designed to prepare men to fight in the Gaza Strip, should Israelis attack Muslims.
In Baasyr’s hometown of Solo, Central Java, Muslims took to the streets waving banners to protest against police and the Densus-88 anti-terror squad. One read, “This arrest will cause natural disaster and draw God’s wrath”.
At the same time in Malaysia, the authorities detained Mustawan Ahbab on charges of helping Baasyr raise funds to sponsor terrorist actions.