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Clashes as Muslim cleric re-arrested on terrorism charges JAKARTA - Supporters of Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir clashed with police outside a Jakarta prison in an effort to prevent his re-arrest as a terrorism suspect at the end of his jail term yesterday.The violence came as police said they had a stronger case against the alleged south-east Asian terrorist leader than 18 months ago, when he was tried for treason but convicted only on immigration violations.
Up to 1,000 brick-throwing supporters of Mr Bashir were driven away from the Salemba prison gates by police with tear gas and water canons. The cleric was bundled into an armoured vehicle and taken to police headquarters. "We will challenge this in court. This is not an arrest, this is kidnapping," said one of Mr Bashir's lawyers, Achmad Khalid, outside the jail, according to AFX news agency.
Authorities say they have re-arrested Mr Bashir because they have fresh evidence showing he led the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah terrorist group. They said there was evidence that Mr Bashir attended a ceremony at the JI-run Hudaibiyah military academy in Mindanao, the Philippines, in April 2000 as the organisation's leader.
"The police believe this time the evidence against Abu Bakar Bashir is stronger than before," said Ansyaad Mbai, head of Indonesia's co-ordinating board for counter-terrorism. Diplomats say the police have more testimony from JI operatives held in neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The move to keep him behind bars will please the US and Australia, which blame JI for the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people and for other attacks in the region.
"We respect the independence of the Indonesian judicial system and we welcome the decision of the Indonesian authorities to pursue the prosecution of Abu Bakar Bashir," the US embassy in Jakarta said. Under Indonesia's new terrorism law, suspects can be detained for up to six months without trial. Police said yesterday 34 officers and 44 Bashir supporters were injured, while 43 protesters were detained.
Islamic activist Abu Hanifah, who brought in 11 busloads of supporters from Mr Bashir's hometown in Solo, central Java, said they had wanted to see "justice" done for the 65-year-old cleric. Standing with other supporters wearing military boots and armed with rattan sticks, he said: "Just give him some time to meet with his family and students. He has already said he is ready to face another legal process."



Posted in Terrorism @ 01 May 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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