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Abu Bakar Bashir says he was supporting Palestine, not terrrorism

Cilacap:  Radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has claimed he was wrongly jailed for 15 years on terrorism charges when he was merely donating money to support the Palestinian cause in Gaza.

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Abu Bakar Bashir seeks review on conviction

The founder of Jemaah Islamiah, the group behind the 2002 Bali bombings and other terror attacks in Indonesia, radical muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir appears in court seeking a review of his conviction for terrorism.

The extremist preacher, who inspired the Bali bombers, is seeking a judicial review of his 15-year sentence for supporting a terrorist training camp in Aceh.

He told a court in Cilacap on Tuesday that police and prosecutors were insulting Allah when they called military training to defend Islam an act of terror.

Abu Bakar Bashir outside the court in Cilacap on Tuesday.
Abu Bakar Bashir outside the court in Cilacap on Tuesday. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Security was tight for the elderly cleric's court appearance in the West Javan town, with 1000 police deployed outside the court and other buildings in the town.

Hundreds of supporters attended yelling "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)".

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Some taunted police, claiming they were thugs who cowered before Americans and Malaysians.

Bashir's lawyer, Adnan Wirawan, said after the hearing that Bashir had donated 150 million rupiah (about $15,000) for weapons and military training in Aceh to assist with the liberation of Palestine, not carry out terrorism acts in Indonesia. 

Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in Cilacap court on Tuesday.
Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in Cilacap court on Tuesday. Photo: AAP

"We have five witnesses who will testify in two weeks that donations made by Mr Abu Bakar was for Palestine," he said.

"The witnesses are stating that donations made by our client was legal."

Abu Bakar Bashir outside court in Cilacap on Wednesday.
Abu Bakar Bashir outside court in Cilacap on Wednesday. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Bashir was initially convicted of conspiracy over the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, but his conviction was quashed after he had served 26 months' jail.

However he was arrested again in 2010 and jailed for 15 years for supporting a militant training camp in Aceh.

Abu Bakar Bashir outside court in Cilacap on Wednesday.
Abu Bakar Bashir outside court in Cilacap on Wednesday. Photo: Amilia Rosa

In a statement read to the court, Bashir told the court he was only helping his fellow Muslims by sending money to support the Palestinian struggle.

"I was not imprisoned because of law, but because of a fabricated story," he said. "I was accused of being an ally of terrorism when they (the militants) weren't training to fight against the country (Indonesia).

Inside the court room where Abu Bakar Bashir was seeking a review of his sentence.
Inside the court room where Abu Bakar Bashir was seeking a review of his sentence.  Photo: Amilia Rosa

Bashir said he was obeying Allah, who ordered Muslims to defend themselves in the Koran.

"The police and prosecutor are insulting Allah, [and] the prophet [Muhammad], because they are labelling training to defend Islam as an act of terror," he said.

Bashir said he consulted the Koran after learning on the internet about the military training camp in the mountains of Aceh.

"After I reviewed the Koran, I understood that the physical and weapons training in Aceh was intended to fight for Islam ... that the training is part of an Islamic duty that needs to be carried out by Muslims, because Allah orders it."

Bashir warned prosecutors and judges who caused problems for the mujahideen (those engaged in jihad) that their actions would not be taken lightly.

"Before you die, repent, don't relax and smile while enjoying the small salary you make from the infidel and the assisting dollars given by the American firaun [pharaohs]," he said.

"Be very careful because you will suffer unimaginable pain in Hell."

Indonesia was on the highest possible alert for a terror attack over the holiday period, with 11 alleged terrorists – suspected to be planning an attack in December – arrested in the lead-up to Christmas.

Cilacap police spokesman Raden Bintaro said 1000 officers were securing the court and other vital buildings in the Central Javan town.

"We asked one school near the court to take the day off as a precaution," he said.

The number of media and Bashir supporters allowed inside the court was strictly controlled. Hundreds watched proceedings from a television inside a media tent in the courtyard.

The case was adjourned for two weeks, after which the witnesses will present their evidence.

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