JAKARTA, Indonesia – A cleric who triggered bombings in Bali and other attacks was released from an Indonesian prison on Friday after completing his sentence, free to fund the training of Islamic militants

Police said they would monitor the activities of the 82-year-old and sick Abu Bakar Bashir, his son said Bashir would avoid activities outside his home due to the coronavirus pandemic

Slender, white-bearded Bashir, an Indonesian of Yemeni descent, was the spiritual leader of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah network behind the 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali, in which 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed including 88 Australians who left a deep scar in this country

Bashir was arrested in 2011 for his connections to a militant training camp in the religiously conservative province of Aceh. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for funding the military camp to train Islamic militants

He received a total of 55 months’ imprisonment, which prisoners are often given on major holidays, said Rika Aprianti, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice’s corrections

Bashir, wearing a white robe and mask, was escorted by the National Police’s counterterrorism force known as Densus 88 as he left Gunung Sindur Prison in the city of Bogor in western Java left, Bashir’s son Abdul Rohim told The Associated Press

He said the family, lawyers, and a medical team escorted Bashir to his home at the Islamic boarding school he co-founded in Solo City, about 540 kilometers east of the capital Jakarta

Rohim said the family had agreed with the authorities not to hold ceremonies to welcome Bashir

“I only want to protect my father from the crowds during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rohim. “He will just rest and gather with his family until the outbreak ends. There will certainly be no other activities for him”

Head Boy Endro Sudarsono said it did not hold any welcome events because “we agreed with authorities to keep a large crowd out to curb the spread of the coronavirus”

Police removed five large welcome banners and dozens of smaller posters to attract people, and replaced them with a single banner announcing no celebration would take place

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Bashir’s release a “stomach ache” and said the government has long called for tougher sentences against those behind the bombings

“Conviction decisions, as we know, are matters for the Indonesian judicial system and we must respect the decisions they make,” said Morrison on Friday

He said that while Bashir’s release was in line with the Indonesian judicial system, “That doesn’t make it easier for any Australian to accept that. Ultimately, those responsible for the murder of Australians would be free now. It’s not a fair world sometimes, And.” this is one of the hardest things to deal with “

The Indonesian authorities had gone out of their way to prove Bashir’s involvement in the Bali bombings and fought several fights to uphold convictions on other charges, with prosecutors failing to prove a number of terrorism-related allegations, which became one of treason repealed and a penalty for falsification conviction was considered light

After his release from prison in 2004, he was arrested and again accused of presiding over Jemaah Islamiyah and blessing the Bali bombings. A court has released him from leading the group, however, on charges of conspiracy in the bombings Sentenced to 30 months in prison

After his release in 2006, he resumed teaching at the Al-Mukmin boarding school, which he co-founded in 1972, and toured the country with fiery sermons

The school became a militant production line under Bashir’s influence, radicalizing a generation of students, many later terrorizing Indonesia with bombings and attacks targeting an Islamic caliphate, destroying the country’s reputation for tolerance

In speeches, Bashir said that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and three militants sentenced to death for the bombings in Bali were not terrorists but “soldiers in Allah’s army” “

A court banned Jemaah Islamiyah in 2008 and the group was weakened by continued crackdown on militants by Indonesian anti-terrorism police with US and Australian support

A raid on the camp in 2010, which Bashir helped to fund, dealt a severe blow to radical networks in Indonesia, forcing changes in the mission of Islamic extremists. Instead of targeting Western people and symbols, the militants turned against Indonesians who were viewed as “infidels” such as police, counter-terrorism squads, lawmakers and others who were seen as obstacles to the transformation of the secular country into an Islamic state subject to Sharia law, militants have recently been attacked inspired by Islamic state groups abroad

Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Political Analysis of Conflict, which closely monitors militant Southeast Asian Muslim groups, said the release of Bashir is unlikely to increase the risk of terrorism in Indonesia as there are many potential terrorists today young to remember the Jemaah Islamiyah bombing campaign that took place when Bashir was their leader

“Extremist cells are far more shattered than when Bashir was imprisoned,” she said, adding that Bashir did not write anything that could be used as teaching material for radical groups

“Also, given the government’s crackdown on ‘radicals’, I doubt that Bashir will have much room for radical preaching even if he wanted to,” said Jones

Bashir was relocated to Gunung Sindur Prison in 2016 for reasons of age and health from isolation on a prison island and was hospitalized several times because of his deteriorating health

President Joko Widodo almost applied for early release in 2019 on humanitarian grounds, but withdrew after protests by the Australian government and relatives of the victims of the Bali bombing

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World News – AU – Indonesian clergyman who inspired Bali bombings to be released from prison

Source: https://www.startribune.com/indonesian-cleric-who-inspired-bali-bombings-freed-from-jail/600007962/