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Cleric tied to Bali bombings released to heroes welcome in Indonesia - returns to continue Islamist school and Jihad

June 13, 2006

Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir waves to his supporters as he leaves Cipinang prison in Jakarta June 14, 2006. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)

Bashir released from jail

June 14, 2006 - 10:19AM

Militant Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been mobbed by supporters after being released from Jakarta's high security Cipinang prison.

Bashir emerged from the jail a short time ago after serving 25 months for giving blessing to the first Bali bombings, as the spiritual head of the Jemaah Islamiah terror network.

Wearing a gold cap, grey suit and red checked headscarf, he was immediately surrounded by hundreds of supporters.

Earlier the supporters, many from hardline Islamic groups, chanted "Allahu Akbar", or God is Great, as they gathered in a crush outside the prison to await Bashir's release.

Bashir will now begin a publicity road trip through Java to his home city of Solo, where he plans to resume teaching at the Islamic boarding school he founded.

The firebrand cleric was convicted of involvement in the first Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Bashir delivered a speech to his supporters and to the media, speaking for several minutes amid the crush.

He was then herded by bodyguards to a black van to be driven away.

Many of the 68-year-old cleric's supporters are students brought in from the Islamic boarding school he founded.

"Let's welcome him together with gratitude to Allah," close aide Fauzan Al-Ansauri said earlier in a cell phone text message sent to supporters and journalists.

Indonesia's State Intelligence Agency chief, Syamsir Siregar, said before his release that he hoped Bashir would not cause any trouble.

"We hope Bashir, after he has been jailed, will regain his self-awareness and be willing to cooperate with us," Siregar told politicians earlier this week.

Jemaah Islamiah is accused of carrying out church bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the 2002 Bali bombings, attacks in the Indonesian capital in 2003 and 2004, and a triple suicide bombing on Bali last October. The attacks together killed more than 260 people.

Bashir has little active support in Indonesia, where most Muslims follow a moderate form of the faith.

Speaking to his supporters, Bashir said:"I thank Allah.

"To the lawyers who have enthusiastically defended me during the trial we will keep on fighting to uphold sharia (Islamic law).

"Upholding sharia is full of struggle," Bashir added, before being whisked away.

There were reports Bashir planned to visit the Istiqlal mosque in central Jakarta to pray before heading for Solo.

But one of his lawyers, Adnan Wirawan, said he had no idea where Bashir had gone and claimed plans for the journey to Solo had been thrown into disarray by a small band of supporters who bundled him into a van.

"This is not the plan and right now we don't know where he is," Adnan told AAP.

"All the plans that we have set up for him, it has been deviated."

Adnan said an Australian government call for Indonesian authorities to place Bashir under "surveillance" would be a violation of his rights as a newly-freed citizen.

"I expect that there will be a discrimination surveillance of him and that would be unconstitutional, because he is as free as everyone else in the country. He is a free citizen. It is a violation against his privacy."

Adnan said accusations that Bashir had been the leader of Jemaah Islamiah would be proven wrong.


Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has told his son he is happy and plans to return to the Central Java school he founded to teach the Koran, write books and give religious speeches.

The 68-year-old will be released from Jakarta's Cipinang prison today after serving just over two years' jail for giving his blessing to the Bali nightclub bombings - charges he has always denied.

The attack in October 2002 killed 200 innocent people plus two suicide bombers when massive bombs exploded in two Kuta nightclubs. Among the dead were 88 Australians.

Late yesterday Bashir's third son, Abdurrahim, visited him at the jail for several hours.

"Of course he is happy, because tomorrow he will be released," Abdurrahim said after the visit. "He is fine and Insyallah [God willing] tomorrow everything will be OK."

Abdurrahim said his father would return to the school, where he would teach, write and give religious speeches "the same as before".

Bashir's family and supporters plan to drive him the 10 hours from Jakarta to Solo in a convoy of buses.

His first task will be a medical check-up.


Released cleric hits out at US
14/06/2006 - 15:31:26

Militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir lashed out at the US just hours after his release from jail today, as he headed to his home town to resume teaching at an Islamic school notorious for producing several deadly militants.

Bashir was given a hero's welcome by around 150 supporters outside Jakarta's Cipinang prison after serving a 26-month sentence for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, mostly young foreign tourists.

Famed for his fiery rhetoric, the 68-year-old Bashir is alleged by the US and Australia to be a founder and top leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaida-linked terror group blamed for the Bali bombings and a host of other bloody attacks and failed plots in Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

"The US is a state terrorist because it is waging war against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan," he told reporters when asked about the US accusations.

"This is the kind of thinking we can expect from infidels."

Bashir made the remarks after he stopped for midday prayers in the town of Tegal, east of Jakarta, en route to his boarding school in the central Javanese city of Solo, where about 1,000 people waited to greet him.

On his arrival in Solo, he went directly for a check-up at a hospital, where hundreds of his followers greeted him with cries of "God is great!"

It was unclear whether he would spend the night there.


Bali bombing cleric released early
(Filed: 14/06/2006)

Abu Bakar Bashir, the Islamic cleric jailed in Jakarta for his part in the 2002 Bali bombings, has been released early for good behaviour, and immediately called on his followers to spread Sharia law.

Abu Bakar Bashir
Bashir: 'let us strengthen Islamic brotherhood'

Surrounded by supporters shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest), Bashir said: "Let us strengthen Islamic brotherhood. We strengthen our unity for one aim - that is Islamic sharia."

He said that Indonesia and other nations that "have been in darkness" could be saved by adherence to Islamist precepts.

Bashir, 68, is thought to lead the al-Qa'eda-linked Jemaah Islamiah organisation, which seeks to establish a caliphate across south-east Asia.

He was convicted last March of conspiring to bring about the blasts at two night clubs on the tourist island of Bali, in which 202 people, including 88 Australians and 28 Britons, were killed.

A court sentenced him to 30 months, but his term was cut by four months for good behaviour.

The cleric has denied any wrongdoing, and said he has no part in Jemaah Islamiah.

But John Howard, Australia's prime minister, today expressed anger and disappointment at the release of the spiritual leader.

"I want [Indonesia's politicians] to understand from me, on behalf of the government, how extremely disappointed, even distressed, millions of Australians will be at the release," he said.

And Susanna Miller, of the UK Bali Bombings Victims Group, said Bashir's release would increase the likelihood of further bombings.

"He has gone back to the Indonesian school that he founded 30 years ago. A number of the Bali bombers went to that school and he is now out preaching again," she said.

"That is very dangerous because his role in incitement is particularly iniquitous. There is still so much of the Bali story to be told and to come to trial.

"A lot of Asian analysts are saying that his release, particularly after having served such a short time, has given a huge morale boost to the Jihadist movement in Asia, increasing the likelihood of further bombings."

5 October 2005: Bali bombings were Allah's warning, says jailed terror leader

Timeline: A look at Ba'asyir's life

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Islamic militant cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was released from prison after serving 26 months behind bars for conspiracy in the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.

Some key events in his life:

Born August 17 in East Java province's Jombang village.

Co-founds Al-Mukmin Islamic school in Ngruki, near the central Indonesian town of Solo, with Islamic firebrand Abdullah Sungkar.

Flees to neighboring Malaysia to avoid a crackdown by then-dictator Suharto, who feared Islamist movements as potential challenges to his rule. Helps recruit fellow Indonesians to join the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, makes contact with alleged top al-Qaeda operative Riduan Isamuddin Hambali.

Returns to Indonesia following Suharto's ouster and begins a campaign for the imposition of Islamic law in the sprawling archipelago. Allegedly named head of Jemaah Islamiyah, replacing Sungkar, who died shortly after returning from Malaysia.

October 12, 2002:
Bombs explode in two nightclubs on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Under international pressure to crack down on Islamic extremists, police arrest Ba'asyir though they make no direct legal link to the blasts.

Ba'asyir goes on trial for allegedly authorizing church bombings that killed 19 people, and on treason charges. He is sentenced to four years in jail for inciting others to try to overthrow the government, but an appeals court later dismisses the charges. He is eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison for immigration violations.

April 30, 2004:
On April 30, Ba'asyir is freed from Cipinang prison, but he is immediately re-arrested on charges of heading Jemaah Islamiyah and giving his blessing to the Bali bombings.

March 3, 2005:
On March 3, Ba'asyir is sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiracy in the Bali bombings, but cleared of heading Jemaah Islamiyah.

Ba'asyir is freed from Cipinang prison in eastern Jakarta on June 14.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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