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Police re-arrest Bashir, clash with supporters JAKARTA - Indonesian police arrested Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir as a terror suspect on Friday as he walked out of jail after serving time for lesser charges while his supporters hurled rocks and firebombs at police. Bashir, accused head of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah network, was released on Friday after 18 months in prison for immigration offences but was served with an arrest warrant and detained as he left the jail in central Jakarta.
Police had said earlier they would re-arrest him over allegations he had violated various anti-terrorism statutes. Under Indonesian law he could be held for up to six months for questioning and investigation before formal charges are laid. The prison warden walked with Bashir, 65, to the jail exit where police were waiting. An officer tried to give Bashir the arrest warrant but he refused to accept it, witnesses said. Asked for his reaction to being re-arrested, a smiling Bashir said: "There is no problem. There is no problem. I'm fine." Police then helped the cleric into a waiting armored vehicle and drove him to police headquarters.
"What we witnessed just now was an illegal action from the police. We have not seen that warrant. The warden has not seen that warrant," said Munarman, a lawyer for Bashir. "This proves the police are showing off in front of their financial backers," he said, charging that the police were acting after receiving millions of dollars in financial aid for anti-terrorism training from the United States. "This morning, they showed their sponsors that they have done the job," Munarman said.
Police had questioned the frail cleric earlier this week regarding the October 2002 bomb blasts in Bali which killed 202 people, and had said on Thursday they would arrest him on suspicion of violating anti-terror laws. "He has been detained. He was released by the penitentiary and we handed him the arrest warrant and then detained him," Major General Suyitno Landung, head of the police criminal investigation department, told Reuters.
According to a police warrant shown this week to reporters when Bashir was being questioned, allegations against him include terror conspiracy, plotting attacks and the role of Jemaah Islamiah in terror cases. His re-arrest will likely further enrage his militant supporters and anger Muslim leaders and politicians who accuse authorities of bowing to U.S. pressure over Bashir's case. Hundreds of his supporters clashed with police before dawn near the prison in Jakarta before a smiling Bashir was taken.

Running battles

The protesters tore up paving stones to hurl at police and also tossed Molotov cocktails. Police, clad in riot gear and carrying shields, threw the stones back and responded with tear gas, clubs and water cannons in running battles in the early morning hours that left many injured on both sides, witnesses said. Thirty-four police were hurt, a police spokesman said. A number of vehicles, including some of the buses that brought Bashir supporters into the capital during the night from Central Java, were dented and their windows shattered by rocks.
The clashes began when police tried to move the protesters, who want Bashir to go free, from in front of the prison, witnesses said. Some protesters were arrested. Bashir finished on Friday the jail term for immigration offences. He has consistently denied terrorism charges as well as links with Jemaah Islamiah, believed by intelligence officials to be responsible for violence throughout Southeast Asia. Previous charges against Bashir of treason and of leading Jemaah Islamiah were either dismissed or overturned.
Arresting Bashir and the prospect of a fresh trial poses a challenge to the world's most populous Muslim nation ahead of presidential elections in July, especially with sentiment for Washington at an all-time low over the war in Iraq and U.S. policies toward the Muslim world in general. In the past two weeks, Bashir has entertained a stream of visitors at the prison, from Islamist politicians to mainstream Muslim leaders, all accusing the United States of meddling.
Washington has made clear it wants Bashir to remain in jail. "Clearly this is intervention from foreigners, namely the United States," said well-known Muslim leader Din Syamsuddin.



Posted in Terrorism @ 30 April 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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