Notorious Indonesian Cleric Arrested on Terrorism Charges
August 09, 2010
Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has reportedly been arrested on terrorism charges. (JG Photo/Ali Lutfi)
Jakarta. A lawyer says radical Indonesian Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been arrested on charges of terrorism.
Muhammad Ali says his client was taken in early on Monday for alleged involvement with a new militant network in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.
Bashir is best known as the alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. He spent several years in prison for his involvement with the group, but was released in 2006.
Ali said Monday’s arrest took place in West Java’s Ciamis district.
Wahyudin, director of the Bashir’s controversial Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Central Java, told the Jakarta Globe that his wife, Muslihah, and Bashir’s wife, Aisyah, were also possibly taken into custody.
Abdurrachim, Bashir’s son, confirmed that his father, as well as Muslihah and Aisyah, had been arrested.
He said he was told by his father’s personal assistant, Widodo, who was also taken into custody.
“The police have not contacted us, let alone submit a warrant for the arrest. I have called the Muslim Defenders Team [TPM] to take legal steps” he said.
He said the students at Al Mukmin in Ngruki, Sukoharjo, Central Java, were calm despite the arrest their “role models.”
Sonhadi, secretary of Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), an organization established by Bashir to push for the implementation of Shariah law throughout Indonesia, told the Globe that they were meeting with TPM.
“We want the police to act fairly and uphold justice,” Sonhadi said. “Until now we haven’t received any confirmation from the police on why Bashir was arrested, what charges he have been accused of and why police failed to send a summons.”
He said he suspected there were “people who do not want peace.”
“This is a provocation ahead of Ramadan.”
The police are expected to give a press conference later today.
On Saturday, police arrested five suspects and seized high-explosive materials in separate anti-terror raids in several areas in West Java province.
The target of the alleged terror plots was not immediately clear, but Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday said the police had foiled a terror plot against him as he visited the province.
Bashir, 71, served almost 26 months for conspiracy over the 2002 terror attacks on Bali nightspots that killed more than 200 people, before being cleared and released in 2006.
He is known for his hard-line rhetoric and was accused of providing spiritual leadership to the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror group, a claim he denies.
In an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe in May, the elderly cleric said he was constantly being monitored by the police and military.
“They follow wherever I go and when I give lectures at mosques. They want to narrow down my movements. But they do not interfere with my family.”