BANGKOK – One of Indonesia’s most notorious terrorists, Muslim cleric Abu Bakr Bashir, was released from prison on Friday after serving more than 10 years of a 15-year sentence for helping set up a terrorist training camp.
Mr. Bashir, 82, is the co-founder and former spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a secret terrorist group that carried out a series of deadly attacks in the 2000s, including Bali Nightclub Bombing In 2002, in which 202 people died, many of them were Australian tourists.
Prison officials said he had completed his sentence with a 55-month deduction for good behavior, Islamic holidays and other cuts. His release was confirmed by his lawyer Achmad Midan.
In Australia, relatives and friends of the Bali bombing victims expressed disappointment over Mr Bashir’s release. Australian Foreign Minister, Marriage Payne, urges Indonesia Closely monitor his activities.
“Our Embassy in Jakarta Our concerns have been clarified that such individuals can be prevented from inciting others to pursue future attacks against innocent civilians, ”Ms Payne said this week.
Trying to counter the government as Mr. Bashir’s release comes Another radical Islamic group, the Islamic Defenders Front, whose fiery leader, Rijik Shihab, has called for a “moral revolution”. Authorities arrested Mr. Rizik last month on charges of violating the coronovirus protocol and ordered his organization Dislocate.
The country’s antiterrorism police also 23 members arrested Last month in Jemaah Islamiyah, Aris Sumarsano, better known as Zulkarnain, a leader who had been wanted for 18 years.
Despite Mr. Bashir’s long history of terrorist activities, experts said he does not believe he posed a threat given his age and isolation from the extremist movement while in prison.
“I don’t think anything changes with his release in Indonesia,” said Sidney Jones, director of the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta. “Today’s terrorists can find all they need in terms of inspiration and instruction on their smartphones. They may respect him, but the world has moved on. “
Mr. Bashir, whose white hair and grin gave him a kind, imposing appearance, had long sought to establish a Khilafat or Islamic state in Southeast Asia.
In 1972, he co-founded an Islamic school in Central Java, which served as a recruitment ground for Jemaah Islamiyah.
An attack on Islamists by dictator Suharto forced them to flee to Malaysia, where they stayed for many years and helped the group build a formidable international network with cells in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Among his close associates was his cleric from Indonesia, Riduan Isamuddin, Also known as Hambali, was believed to be the Al Qaeda’s Jemaah Islamiyah and mastermind of several bombings. He is imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay Prison for 14 years.
After the fall of Suharto in 1998, the two clerics returned from Indonesia to Malaysia, and Jemaah Islamiyah began his regional campaign of violence, including bombing of churches, the Bali nightclub in Jakarta, and the JW Marriott Hotel.
The United States accused Mr. Bashir of being an important operative for Al Qaeda, but Indonesian authorities had trouble making the stick of the allegations. He was acquitted of seven terrorism charges of the Bali bombings, but was sentenced to 26 months on conspiracy and immigration charges.
Mr. Bashir praised Bali attackers “Islamic heroes” But denied any responsibility.
Mr. Bashir was arrested again in 2010 for helping and funding the militant group that set up an armed training camp in Assi Province. At the time of the trial, his lawyer claimed that the clergy faced charges only because of pressure from Washington.
He was released 10 years and five months after his arrest.
The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, was on the verge of granting early release to Mr. Bashir as a concession to conservative Muslims, seeking a second term in 2019. But he withdrew that plan due to strong opposition at home and in Australia.
“Bashir” is a household name, but he is still not influential, “said Alto Lebetubun, an Indonesian counterterrorism analyst.” He is always likely to be the patron of a violence cycle or new terrorist act. But I believe That their era is over. “
Members of Mr. Bashir’s family said they did not plan a large celebration to welcome him to his home, perhaps having learned a lesson from Mr. Rijik, who was arrested after the gathering of thousands of supporters in defense of the coronovirus protocol, Those who had returned from self-exertion. Exile in Saudi Arabia.