India Intelligence Report

   Indonesia frees radical Islamic cleric



  • Abu Bakar Baasyir spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah released

  • Australia and US “disappointed” but accept Indonesian decision

  • Baasyir resumed work in school that spawned most terrorists

Indonesia set free radical imprisoned Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Baasyir convicted for his role in "a sinister conspiracy to cause a fire or explosion resulting in deaths" after he completed his prison term that was reduced to about 26 months from 30. Baasyir is generally accepted as the spiritual mentor of Jemaah Islamiah, which is regarded by several Southeast Asian Governments as the regional affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

Soon after his release, which "disappointed" Australia and the United States in particular, Baasyir pledged to continue strengthening the Islamic fraternity and uphold Shariah laws. Tried but not convicted of sponsoring or committing any terrorist act, he was sentenced for his indirect role in the Bali bombings of 2002, which killed over 200 persons including scores of Australian nationals who were holidaying in the island resort.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his release was "extremely disappointing, even distressing" to the Australians. However, both Howard a US spokesman while emphasizing that Baasyir’s sentence was "light,” conceded Indonesia's right to act as it deemed fit under its laws.

Wearing his trademark white skullcap and checked shawl was cheered by about 150 cheering supporters outside the prison prompting him to say “Let us strengthen Islamic brotherhood. We strengthen our unity for one aim — that is Islamic Sharia (law).”

Baasyir resumed work at the boarding school in central Java province notorious for spawning many of Indonesia's most deadly terrorists. He rejected US accusation of his terror activities and told reporters that “The United States is a state terrorist because it is waging war against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.”