There are also updates on the Ahmadi murders below the fold……
Firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir silent at terror trial
JIHADIST cleric Abu Bakar Bashir will be confronted by evidence from former key members of his movement on Monday, when prosecutors begin trying to prove he masterminded a terrorist plot to undermine the Indonesian state.
The third terrorism trial of the radical preacher, convicted of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings but cleared on appeal, began under massive security yesterday. More than 1500 police, among them heavily armed tactical response officers, surrounded the South Jakarta District Court for Indonesia’s most important terrorism trials in recent years.
The hearing was adjourned almost immediately when the 72-year-old preacher, who has refused to answer anything but his name to police during six months’ detention, complained he had not been given proper notice of the hearing.
“My lawyer said a court summons needed to be received three times 24 hours (three days) before the court hearing,” he told chief judge Herry Swantoro.
“Therefore I reject today’s hearing.”
Bashir is an alleged co-founder of Jemaah Islamiah, the network responsible for the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, but which, like other militant Islamic groups, has been splintered by an increasingly successful counter-terrorism campaign over the past five years.
He faces seven charges arising from the smashing last February of a militant training camp, then barely established under the banner of al-Qa’ida in Aceh.
Since the December arrest of Bashir’s former protege Abu Toluth, every senior and mid-ranking figure in the alleged Aceh conspiracy has been arrested or killed by Densus 88, the Indonesian counter-terrorism unit supported by the US and Australia.
If Bashir is convicted on the most serious charge, “planning or motivating others to commit terrorist acts”, he would face either execution or a mandatory life sentence.
The 32-person prosecution team, huge by local standards, will call more than 130 witnesses in a trial expected to take at least five months, seeking to portray the firebrand preacher as not just the Aceh conspiracy’s fundraiser and inspiration, but its leader.
Bashir, who will deny all charges, smiled broadly when brought to the packed courtroom where more than 50 members of his purportedly non-violent movement, Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, chanted “Allah akbar” (God is great).
“I feel like normal,” he said.
“The Prophet Mohammad also experienced this.”
Mahendradatta, one of Bashir’s three lead lawyers, said outside the court the cleric knew nothing of the Aceh camp nor of any weapons training.
Police will tender as evidence allegedly seized from the camp five semi-automatic rifles, a machine pistol, magazines and 890 rounds of ammunition.
“In my opinion, this is revenge because the first and the second (trials) failed, so they are trying again,” the lawyer said. “I think Ustad (teacher) is the government’s No 1 target — I can smell more political reasons than legal.”
However, the prosecutors will deploy a mass of evidence, including the testimony of several former high-ranking JAT officials, to substantiate alleged trails of money and instructions from Bashir to the Aceh camp.
These witnesses are expected to include Haris Amir Falah, formerly head of JAT’s Jakarta chapter, who is believed to have started co-operating with police even before Bashir’s arrest on August 9. Another expected state witness is Lutfi Haidaroh, alias Ubaid, who allegedly acted as a money courier between Bashir, the “amir”, and the Aceh camp.
Bashir is alleged by prosecutors to have raised 1.039 billion rupiah (about $115,600) from his own group and sympathisers for a jihad intended to destabilise the Indonesian state, making way for Islamic law. “The goal for this terror action is to cause panic toward the society and the government in charge so that they split up to make it easy to take over power,” the prosecution cites from an alleged Bashir speech in 2009. The indictment asserts that the amir’s orders were “an interpretation of the orders and the will of God and his prophet . . . the system of the leadership of JAT is singular, not collective, and it is in the hands of the amir — every direction, rule, mechanism or institutional procedure . . . has to be approved by him
Adherence to the 2008 ban on their promoting their activities is, of course, in the eyes of the Muslim overlord beholder. Thus, the decree does create a climate of perpetual fear and is designed to do so, since simply to remain active in normal, daily life and identify oneself as a non-Muslim (as the Ahmadis are labeled by most mainstream Muslims) is to make a non-Islamic faith visible. This and otherÂ dhimma-type prohibitions on expressions of non-Islamic beliefs only set up excuses for later harassment and abuse.
“Religious Affairs Minister Defends Govt Decree vs Ahmadiyah,” by Dessy Sagita for theJakarta Globe, February 10 (thanks to JW):
That video can be foundÂ here (thanks to Agus). Due to its obviously disturbing nature, YouTube requires viewers to create an account and sign in to go on record that they are of a minimum age.
The man is stripped, and obviously dead, but members of the Muslim crowd continue taking their turns at beating the body to the usual, frenzied shouts of “Allahu akbar!” There are children watching, too, and at 0:46, one hears a crowd of boys shout “Allahu akbar,” with several filming with mobile phones as a policeman arrives on the scene.
“Fears for man who filmed Indonesia mob attack,” fromÂ Agence France-Presse, February 11 (thanks to JW):