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 Cleric of Hate Sent to Die Behind Bars

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BerichtOnderwerp: Cleric of Hate Sent to Die Behind Bars   Cleric of Hate Sent to Die Behind Bars Icon_minitimedo 16 jun 2011 - 23:05

June 17, 2011

It is likely the only common ground they will ever have, but terrorism analysts and supporters of militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir do agree on one thing — the 15-year jail term that he received on Thursday means he will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The conclusion to the four-month trial, the Indonesian government’s third attempt to convict the 72-year-old for terrorism, had always been expected to be divisive.

After the South Jakarta District Court, presided by Judge Herri Swantoro, ruled that Bashir was guilty of inciting people to carry out terrorist activities in relation to last year’s discovery of a paramilitary camp in Aceh, an uproar emerged among his supporters.

Thunderous shouts of “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great” from some 500 of his supporters, mostly members of the radical Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid group Bashir co-founded, resounded around the court.

Bashir’s legal team quickly dismissed the court as a sham. “The judge was too keen to convict Bashir,” said his lawyer, Luthfie Hakim.

Bashir himself rejected the verdict outright. “This verdict is unfair because this is based on laws that are made by infidels, not based on Shariah. It is haram [forbidden] for me to accept the ruling,” he said.

But for some of those who have suffered the pain of losing loved ones to acts of terror, Thursday’s event was long-awaited justice.

“It gives a degree of satisfaction that the courts are treating him more appropriately than they did with respect to the Bali tragedy,” said Brian Deegan, whose 21-year-old son was among the 88 Australians killed in the 2002 bombings.

Bashir served almost 26 months for his role in the bombings before his conviction was overturned in 2006.

That case was just one of three instances since the Suharto regime where the cleric managed to elude law enforcers.

He was convicted of treason in 1978 but managed to flee to Malaysia in 1985. He was again charged with treason and immigration offenses in 2003, but was only convicted of the latter and spent a mere 20 months in jail.This time, both the defense and prosecution camps have again said they would file their respective appeals, which means the legal battle to keep the cleric behind bars may not yet be over. Prosecutors will demand a 25-year jail term.

Terrorism experts, however, say that it is more important to put a lid on the cleric’s teachings.

Ken Conboy, author of “The Second Front: Inside Jemaah Islamiyah, Asia’s Most Dangerous Terrorism Network,” said that Muslim youths were falling increasingly under the sway of Bashir’s radical ideology and were likely to retaliate.

“There is a heightened sense of alertness among authorities now that Bashir is convicted,” Conboy told the Jakarta Globe.

The National Police, who will retain custody of the cleric despite the conviction, acknowledged this on Thursday, and said that they would not be lowering their guard.

In fact, the force deployed more than 3,000 police officers backed by armored vehicles and several snipers to safeguard the district court on Thursday, particularly after rumors that 36 bomb attacks would take place the same day circulated earlier this week.

Back inside the National Police headquarters on Thursday afternoon, a defiant Bashir maintained that anyone who fought to defend
Islam would always be threatened. “I don’t like this because this is tyranny. Understand?” he said, reiterating an already familiar claim that Indonesia was opposing Islam and defending the United States. “Everything is based on an order.”

Lawmakers, for their part, hoped that Bashir’s supporters would accept the verdict.

“The punishment was meant to serve as a deterrent and had to do with Bashir as a person, not as a Muslim,” said Gayus Lumbuun, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

“Let’s keep the peace. We must all contribute to a climate of peace and security, not always looking at our differences or falling apart.”
Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, from the ruling Democratic Party, underscored the idea that the case had nothing to do with religion.

“[Bashir’s crimes] were his own failings for which we hope the punishment will elicit remorse at the end of the day,” Nurhayati said.
“I hope the intelligence community can work optimally to detect threats early, particularly from terrorist actions that must never be connected to any religious teaching.”

( x the JG)
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