Thursday’s ruling was a victory for Indonesia’s law enforcement agencies that had sought for years to tie Abu Bakar Bashir conclusively to terrorist activities.
A radical Indonesian cleric was convicted Thursday of inciting terrorism and sentenced to 15 years in jail as hundreds of his supporters besieged the court in Jakarta.
Abu Bakar Bashir was arrested last year after police raided a terrorist training camp in Aceh, Indonesia. The judges ruled Thursday that he had provided support to set up the camp, though he was acquitted of funding terrorism. Mr. Bashir denied the charges and accused the US and Australia of seeking to persecute him.
Former militants have identified Bashir as the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a militant group founded in the 1990s that carried out the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority democracy. Bashir was arrested after the Bali bombings, in which 202 people died, and convicted on various charges, but was freed in 2006 on appeal, to the frustration of the US and other Western governments.
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Thursday’s ruling was a victory for Indonesia’s law enforcement agencies that had sought for years to tie Bashir conclusively to terrorist activities. He told the court that he couldn’t accept a verdict based on “infidel law” and vowed to appeal the sentence.
The discovery of the training camp last February led to the arrest of over 100 suspects, part of a US-backed effort to thwart the spread of militant groups. Prosecutors told the court the trainees at the camp intended to carry out attacks on Indonesian politicians and foreigners as part of a campaign to create an Islamic state. Bashir denied involvement but defended the camp as a Muslim duty.