posted on Mar, 14 2004 @ 09:39 PM
The Indonesian Government says there is no evidence to label Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim clerk and alleged spiritual leader of a radical Muslim group,
as a terrorist.
The statement comes after international criticism over a reduction of his prison term that will allow for his release next month. Bashir who is 65,
was arrested shortly after the 2002 Bali bombings in a hospital bed. Bashir was accused him of heading JI, authorising JI church bombings in
Indonesia and plotting to blow up US targets in Singapore. Last September, a district court convicted Bashir of taking part in a JI plot to
overthrow the Government but said there was no proof he had led the network. He was given four years jail time for treason and immigration-related
offences. In November overturned the treason conviction but ruled that Bashir must serve three years for immigration offences and forging documents.
The U.S. Australia and Singapore expressed dissapointment in the reduction of Bashir's sentence. Bashir in the past has praised Osama bin Laden as
"a true Muslim fighter," and said the US is "the real terrorist." The US is "waging war on Islam, not terrorism," he said. Bashir stresses the
glory of "dying an Islamic martyr" so often that it is his personal motto.
Indonesia says Bashir not a terrorist
''We have to be able to distinguish between labelling someone as being involved or not being involved in terrorism and a legal process that needs
hard evidence,'' Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said.
''Labelling makes people expect that someone must be punished, but a legal process requires strong evidence to punish someone,'' he said.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reduced Bashir's sentence to 18 months from three years for immigration offences.
Profile of JI or Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Group
Jemaah Islamiyah (Islamic Group) seeks an Islamist state incorporating Indonesia, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines. The group and its leader,
the radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, have been linked to terrorist plots by an alleged al-Qaeda operative recently captured in Indonesia
and turned over to the CIA. One of Bashir’s disciples, who goes by the name Hambali, has been linked with a bombing plot against Western embassies in
nearby Singapore and with an individual who reportedly hosted two of the September 11 hijackers. However it is reported that although he is the
formal head of JI, Bashir is not considered radical enough by the leadership of JI. It is said that even though he know alot about the operation, he
is not the mastermind.
Sources and for More
No sympathy for the dead, but Bashir denies any guilt
Militant preacher a focus for Asian terror hunt
[Edited on 3-15-2004 by worldwatcher]