Tag: terrorism in Indonesia

Government to move Abu Bakar Bashir to a Central Java prison

The Indonesian government will move ailing radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to a prison near his hometown in Solo, Central Java for humanitarian reason.

“[The decision] is final. We’ll just need to move him to Central Java,” chief security minister Wiranto told journalists on Wednesday.

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On Tuesday, Wiranto said the government has made the decision by taking into account the firebrand cleric’s old age and poor health without compromising the legal and security aspects. He also said that Bashir will have access to medical treatment and if necessary, the government will take him to the hospital “using a helicopter”.

Bashir will be moved from his isolation cell in Gunung Sindur prison in Bogor, West Java to a prison near Klaten in Central Java where  he can be close to his family.

Earlier in the week, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights said Bashir is ineligible for house arrest. It was one of the options the government said it was considering as leniency to the ailing cleric.

“House arrest is only available for a defendant who is standing trial, while Bashir is no longer a defendant. He is a prisoner, convicted to serve time in prison,” Ade Kusmanto, a spokesman for the ministry’s Directorate General of Correction said.

Last week, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told journalists at the state palace that house arrest for the cleric is very likely, as the government is weighing up which form of clemency it could give to Bashir. The cleric suffers from pooling of blood on his legs, a condition which requires him to undergo regular medical check-ups.

On Mar. 1, Bashir was taken to a hospital in Jakarta for treatment which his lawyer, Achmad Michdan, said had been scheduled for Nov. 2017. He is scheduled for another check up on Thursday.

President Joko Widodo said the government gave permission for Bashir to go to the hospital on humanitarian grounds.

Kusmanto said the cleric can ask the president for clemency, given that he is in poor health and will become an octogenarian this year. Another possibility is to demand parole, for which he will be eligible in June 2019 when he will have served two-thirds of his 15-year prison sentence.

Michdan said his client rules out both the options since applying for either one would mean that Bashir pleads guilty to the charges against him.

Bashir was convicted in 2011 for supporting paramilitary training in Aceh, and the firebrand cleric is described as the ideological icon of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), including those who carried out bomb attacks in Bali in 2003.

“Bashir believes he is innocent because he was merely observing his faith as a Muslim. He was collecting money to fund training and travel for those who wanted to go as mujahideen to Palestine. He wasn’t rebelling against the country,” Michdan said.

Michdan said that it should be possible for the government to “relocate the place” where Bashir serves his sentence from Gunung Sindur prison to his house in Solo, Central Java.

He cited examples of jailed former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is serving his two-year sentence for blasphemy at a special police detention instead of a correctional facility, and East Timor resistance fighter Xanana Gusmao who had been imprisoned in Jakarta when he was fighting for East Timor’s independence from Indonesia. He was then confined to a house in Central Jakarta in 1999.

Terrorism analyst Adhe Bakti said even though house arrest is not regulated in the Criminal Procedures Code, Gusmao’s case was laden with political context at that time when East Timor was going for a referendum in which they voted for independence from Indonesia on Aug. 30, 1999.

“But the government could make a breakthrough by giving Bashir leniency to serve the rest of his sentence on house isolation based on humanitarian grounds. At least it would project a positive image of the government before the Islamists,” Bakti said.

Bakti warned that isolation remains necessary given Bashir’s revered position among militants.

“Even though he is no longer affiliated with ISIS, he still very much identified with radical teaching,” Bakti said.

This story has been updated from its original version in Arab News

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s lawyer mulls second case review, having lost the first

Jailed cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s defence team is considering lodging a second case review request with the Supreme Court.

One of Ba’asyir’s lawyers, Achmad Michdan said there was a change in the composition of panel of judges who reviewed  the case.

“The judges who handed down the ruling are different to those who were appointed to preside the hearings when we lodged the appeal. We weren’t notified that there was a change,” Michdan said.

“This is peculiar and we are going to question this. For us, this is a legal problem,” he said.

Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said the court rejected Ba’asyir’s appeal against his 2011 conviction for funding militant training in Aceh.

“The court handed down the verdict on July 27. It was rejected because it didn’t meet the requirements for an appeal, such as presenting new evidence,” Suhadi said.

Suhadi confirmed that there was a change in the panel of judges. The three justices initally appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali were Artidjo Alkostar, Suhadi, and Sri Murwahyuni with Artidjo as the chair.

“When Artidjo realised it was Ba’asyir’s case, he resigned from the panel on grounds that he has served as a judge in Ba’asyir’s previous case,” Suhadi said.

Artidjo was one of the justices that presided Ba’asyir’s appeal in 2004 after South Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 30 months in prison for his involvement in the 2002 Bali and August 2003 JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta bomb attacks.

The five-justice panel overturned Ba’asyir’s conviction in 2006 and declared he was not involved in both attacks.

Both Michdan and Ba’asyir’s son, Abdurrahim Ba’asyir, declined to comment further on the rejection, saying that they have not received the official copy of the ruling.

Abdurrahim, who is the youngest of the Ba’asyir’s three children, said he believed that the five witnesses testified in his father’s appeal hearings were credible.

“We still don’t know why the appeal was rejected. We want to know why. We believed, God’s willing, the argument in the appeal was solid and we presented credible witnesses,” he said.

One of the five witnesses who testified in court with Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab and three terrorist convicts incarcerated in Nusakambangan prison island was physician and humanitarian worker Joserizal Jurnalis.

joserizal, who is the founder of humanitarian group Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), expressed concerns about the Supreme Court rejection, saying that the panel of judges should have taken Ba’asyir’s ill-health and old age into account.

“I really regret the verdict. As his physician, my main concern is his health and old age. He is now 77 years old and by the time he finishes his sentence, Ba’asyir would be 87 years old,” Joserizal told The Parrot.

Ba’asyir was transferred from a Nusakambangan prison to Gunung Sindur prison in West Java on April 16 so that he could receive better medical treatment and where he remains isolated.

He said that Ba’asyir is in good health for a man his age and that he keeps exercising in his isolation cell with sports equipment and static bike that his medical team provided, with the approval of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.

Ba’asyir’s lawyers argued that the cleric believed the money he donated was to support the establishment of an Indonesian hospital in Palestine, which MER-C constructed and that Ba’asyir was unaware the money he donated was used to fund the extremist training camp in Aceh.

The first hearing took place at the Cilacap District Court in Central Java just two days before the suicide bomb attack in Jakarta on January 14.

Meanwhile, Indonesian police on Friday arrested six suspected Islamist militants, one of whom had allegedly considered launching a rocket at Singapore’s Marina Bay, a spokesman said.

The six were arrested in three separate locations on Batam island, just south of Singapore, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said.

The suspects are linked to Bachrun Naim, a wanted Indonesian militant thought to be fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Syria, Amar said.

Among those arrested was Gigih Rahmat Dewa, who according to Amar had plotted together with Naim to launch a rocket from Batam at Singapore’s Marina Bay.

The alleged plan never materialized.

“[Dewa] also helped facilitate trips by Indonesians to Syria via Turkey,” Amar said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has suffered several deadly attacks blamed on Islamist militants since the early 2000s.

 

 

 

Firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir had his sentence cut

Jailed radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who is serving a 15-year jail term for supporting a militant camp, received a five-month sentence cut earlier this year for good behaviour, his lawyer said.

“He had his sentence cut in February. Those who are granted prison sentence cuts must have met the requirements, including good behavior,” Ba’asyir’s lawyer from the Muslim Defenders Team (TPM) Achmad Michdan told The Parrot on Tuesday.

Penitentiaries directorate general official had said Ba’asyir, who was convicted of supporting militant training in Aceh in 2010, did not have his sentence cut earlier because he had not served at least a third out of his prison term. Sentence cuts are normally granted to convicts on religious holidays and Independence Day.

Ba’asyir was transferred to Gunung Sindur prison in West Java from the Nusakambangan prison island on April 16 so that the ailing 77-year-old cleric could receive better medical treatment.

His lawyers claimed that Ba’asyir was treated inhumanely in Nusakambangan and was kept in an isolation cell,  preventing him from praying with other inmates including the obligatory Friday prayers for men.

“How could a [Muslim] man be banned from performing Friday prayers?” another TPM lawyer Akhmad Kholid said.

“He is just an old man who doesn’t want to engage in violence. He is actually very tolerant when it comes to worldly stuff. He only strongly protested recently because he was not allowed to pray,” Akhmad added.

Chief security and political affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan rejected claims that prison warden had denied Ba’asyir’s right to perform his religious rituals. During a press briefing last week, Luhut showed journalists photos of the cleric’s cell block in Gunung Sindur, which he said was spacious enough for him to pray and “sit for a cup of tea”.

“Don’t report as if we violated his rights to pray. It was not like that at all. We only enforced prison regulation. He was not barred from praying, we just didn’t allow him to give sermons to his fellow inmates and previous experience showed it caused radicalisation,” Luhut said.

Bashir was in the process of court hearings in Cilacap, Central Java to challenge his sentence. The first hearing took place just two days before the suicide bomb attack in Jakarta on January 14. Police said the perpetrators were former jailed militants who were radicalized during their incarceration.

Akhmad denied that the attackers had visited Bashir in Nusakambangan before bombing a Starbucks café and a police station in Central Jakarta.

“He was taken to an isolation cell after attending a court hearing in February and remained there until he was transferred to Gunung Sindur,” Akhmad said.

 

 

Indonesia needs to move beyond security measures to fight terrorism

By Noor Huda Ismail*

Indonesian police have named a convicted terrorist, Afif Sunakim, as one of five perpetrators of Islamic State-linked bombings and shootings in Jakarta that killed eight people, including four attackers, last month.

Indonesia is considering amending its counter-terrorism laws to respond to the phenomenon of returned foreign fighters from Syria.

But fighting terrorism purely through security measures will not be enough. Indonesia should devise policies to rehabilitate and monitor former convicted terrorists to prevent recidivism. The government should also work with civil society to counter the spread of extremism online.

Preventing recidivism by ex-terror convicts

The Indonesian police have arrested more than 1200 people on terrorism charges, according to data from the counter-terrorism unit. Some convicted terrorists seemed to become more radical behind bars. At least 40 convicted terrorists have re-offended after release.

Afif Sunakim was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in a militant training camp in Aceh. In prison, he became the masseuse for Aman Abdurrahman, one of Indonesia’s most influential jihadi ideologues and a vocal promoter of Islamic State (IS).

My series of interviews with terrorist recidivists suggests that the majority of them believe that jihad is a religious obligation. In a purely linguistic sense, the word “jihad” means struggling or striving. It can refer to the internal as well as external struggle to be a good Muslim. However, for terrorists, jihad means to fight against Indonesia’s secular regime.

There is a common understanding among jihadists that if they are imprisoned, they are simply taking leave. Upon release, they will be ready to rejoin the movement. With this kind of belief, no matter the situation former terrorist inmates face, there is a big chance they will return to their terrorist groups and carry out further attacks.

A prominent terrorist, convicted in 2004, is an example of such recidivism. He was released in 2008. He was then involved in weapons training in Aceh in 2010. In his opinion, as long as what he believes in is right, he will have no other option than to act, whether inside or outside prison. He said: A committed mujahideen will not be limited by any condition or situation beyond himself.

Additionally, there is a desire among convicted terrorists to experiment or retry what they failed to achieve. A convicted terrorist now on the run after a prison break in Medan was involved in the Lippo Bank robbery in Medan in 2003 and again in the CIMB Niaga Bank robbery in 2010. He said: If jihad acts fail, it is most likely that improved jihad acts will be tried again later.

The choice for a released convicted terrorist is stark. Do I return to the pathway of jihad or do I re-enter society to follow a normal life? If he lives in a difficult social and economic situation, with a lack of education and a family that does not support him, it is most likely that a former terrorist inmate will return to the jihadist community, where he will be protected and cared for.

A 2013 report by the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict showed that Indonesia’s judicial system has insufficient funds, infrastructure and resources to handle the successful rehabilitation of former terrorists. This lack of post-detention care leaves terrorist inmates at risk of returning to violence, because they are not being properly assessed. They do not receive sufficient re-programming to prepare them to return to mainstream society.

Indonesia needs to set up special placement, supervision, development and rehabilitation programs for former terrorists. The government must train corrections officers to actively engage with former inmates, to support them in finding a new calling in life and to mentor them while doing so.

Countering radical narratives online

The second challenge is to stop IS spreading extremism over the internet.

IS propaganda has created a hype and fad among Muslim youths around the world about a fantasy idea that violent armed struggle against non-Muslims and Muslims identified as “enemies of Islam” is a “jihad” that requires urgent participation.

IS has also created a false hope and a perception that the perfect government system based on the purest Islamic principles has been implemented and is working – but that it still requires Muslims from “impure” Muslim and non-Muslim lands.

Until now the Indonesian government – let alone civil society – has made no systematic effort to challenge the arguments of jihadists on social media. The jhadists are cleverly targeting individuals at risk, mainly young people. These at-risk people tend to spend their time online rather than offline and enjoy being “liked” on Facebook.

If extremists have successfully employed social media to spread their message on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we also need to create a campaign on social media to counter their movement. We can take a closer look at how “creative” extremists use technology to spread their ideology by monitoring their videos and reading their tweets and online posts.

With the help of civil society, the Indonesian government could launch campaigns on social media to challenge the extremist narratives.

Terrorism is rooted in a belief in an extreme ideology. If we want to prevent acts of terror from happening again, we should strive to prevent the young from being won over by extremists’ messages. We should also find a way to change the minds of those convicted of terrorism so they will not return to their old ways.

Noor Huda Ismail is a PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations, Monash University. This article was first published by theconversation.com

Counter-terrorism chief acknowledges death of policeman fighting for IS

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism chief has confirmed the death of a police sergeant who fought alongside the Islamic State group in Syria. Continue reading “Counter-terrorism chief acknowledges death of policeman fighting for IS”