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Police declare Bashir terror suspect JAKARTA - Indonesian police have named Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir a terror suspect and are focusing on possible links to the Bali blasts and his alleged leadership of an Al Qaeda-linked militant group, officials said on Friday. The 65-year-old Bashir is in jail for immigration offences and is due to be freed on April 30, but the latest legal moves would allow police to keep him under detention.
“The Jakarta prosecutor’s office has received a notification letter (from police) of their investigation into the suspect Abu Bakar Bashir,” said Kemas Yahya Rachman, spokesman for the attorney general. Quoting from the letter, he said: “Investigators have conducted a probe into the suspect, who is believed to have carried out terrorist action.” Police chief General Da’i Bachtiar declined to give any details about the fresh charges against Bashir, whose impending release had alarmed the United States and other governments. Asked what cases were linked to the new investigation, one senior officer, who declined to be identified, said: “What else, if it’s not the Bali bombings and the Marriott bombings?”
Authorities have blamed Southeast Asia’s Jemaah Islamiah militant network — seen as the regional arm of Al Qaeda — for the October 2002 Bali attacks that killed 202 people and the bombing of Jakarta’s JW Marriott hotel in August that killed 12. Suyitno Landung, head of Indonesia’s criminal investigation department, told reporters that police were focusing on what he said was Bashir’s leadership of a secretive group blamed for the Bali and Marriott attacks. He did not mention Jemaah Islamiah by name. “That organisation is closed, secretive, and its documents will be evidence to indicate Abu Bakar Bashir is its leader. We will interrogate him soon,” Landung said.
Bashir was arrested just after the Bali bombings, although he has never been named a suspect in that atrocity. He has repeatedly denied links to Jemaah Islamiah and to terrorism. Bashir’s lawyers have said their client would be quizzed under anti-terrorism laws in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Bashir was previously tried under the criminal code, but charges of leading Jemaah Islamiah or committing acts of treason were either dismissed or overturned in lower courts. Meanwhile, one of Bashir’s senior lawyers, Achmad Michdan, said police were making his client too much of a target at the behest of foreign intervention.
“All of these accusations aren’t new . . . The police are just making up things,” he said. “This is clearly an order from foreigners who have been haunting the police. Why can’t they wait until he is released? What, him fleeing? He’s a really old man, where can he go?” Police are building the new case partly on evidence gleaned by investigators who have visited Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, where many Jemaah operatives have been arrested. The police moves have surprised some analysts, coming before Bashir’s scheduled release and at a sensitive time when Indonesia has just held parliamentary elections.
Campaigning for the April 5 parliamentary poll showed little support for radical views such as those espoused by Bashir. A spokesman for Bashir has said the cleric suspected he would face trial in Bali if fresh charges were brought. Judges in Bali who have presided over trials related to the bombings on the Hindu island have handed down tough verdicts.



Posted in Terrorism @ 17 April 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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