UPDATE: Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was convicted of funding a terrorist group that planned to kill westerners and political leaders.
While the court returned a favorable verdict for the prosecutors, Bashir was sentenced to 15 years in prison, rather than the life sentence the prosecutors sought.
Report & Analysis: Radical cleric Bashir jailed for terrorism [AFP, 16 Jun 2011]
A verdict is expected in the trial of 72 year old Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir Thursday, in his trial for supporting terrorist activity in Indonesia.
He is accused of providing more than $62,000 in funding to the terrorist group known as “Al-Qaeda in Aceh” and will face a life sentence if convicted. The terrorist training camp was uncovered in Aceh Province last year, and over 120 suspects have been arrested in connection with terrorist activities taking place there.
This is the government’s third attempt to convict Bashir on terrorism charges in the last ten years, with the first two attempts yielding little prison time for the cleric, following successful appeals after convictions. Charges against him include inciting, planning and raising money for terrorist activities.
Security across the country is on high alert, as there have been many threats of terrorist action if Bashir is convicted. More than 3000 officers will be on duty in and around the court precinct, where Bashir’s supporters are expected to gather. Police warn of potential retaliatory attacks if Bashir is convicted.
Report & Analysis: Security high as radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir faces court[Herald Sun, 16 Jun 2011]
Some experts have claimed that the Aceh group was trying to form a militia to directly attack the government and work toward its mission of imposing an Islamic state.
Bashir blames the U.S. and liberal Muslims for trying to frame him. He claims that the charges were engineered by those who wish to silence his rhetoric.
Report & Analysis: Indonesia braces for Bashir verdict [AFP, 15 Jun 2011]
Bashir, who many describe as a radical Islamist, was the co-founder and long-time spiritual leader of Jeemah Islamiah, and is considered to be a figurehead for Indonesian terrorism, despite never having been convicted of any terrorism charges in bombing campaigns across the country. In 2008 he formed Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), which aims to convert Indonesia into an Islamic caliphate. He is also the founder of the Al Mukmin Ngruki Islamic boarding school in Java, where many of the graduates have gone on to become terrorists.
Report & Analysis: Indonesia awaits Abu Bakar Ba’asyir verdict [BBC, 16 Jun 2011]