World

Jakarta attacks sabotaged Abu Bakar Bashir's bid for freedom, lawyer says

Jakarta: Abu Bakar Bashir's lawyer has forcefully denied the radical Indonesian cleric had anything to do with the Jakarta terror attacks, declaring them an attempt to sabotage his client's bid for freedom.

"He has no knowledge of the situation, he has no knowledge of anyone who was involved with the attack," lawyer Adnan Wirawan said outside court.

Mr Wirawan said the January 14 terrorist attacks in Central Jakarta that killed eight people damaged Bashir's struggle for freedom.

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.

"The one who was involved in the attacks, not only does he not have any relationship with Abu Bakar, we believe he is Abu Bakar's opponent, one who hates Abu Bakar," Mr Wirawan said.

"Whoever is doing it, his actions sabotage our purpose."

Advertisement

He said Bashir had responded "like ordinary people" when he learned of the terrorist attacks, asking: 'Why did he do it?'. "It's against his beliefs."

Security, already tight at Bashir's last court appearance in the seaside port town of Cilacap, was further enhanced in the wake of the Jakarta blasts. There were 1500 security personnel, a local school was closed for the day and the roads blocked with barbed wire. Trucks with water cannons blocked the streets near the court..

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

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

He is seeking a judicial review on the grounds he was actually donating money to support the Palestinian cause in Gaza.

"Witnesses will testify that Abu Bakar did not fund the military camp, he does not have anything to do with it," Mr Wirawan said.

The gunman photographed roaming the streets wearing a Nike cap, jeans and sneakers during the deadly assault, Sunakim (alias Afif) also served prison time for his role in the military training camp in Aceh.

Mr Wirawan said Bashir had no memory of Sunakim although he may have been one of his students at one time.

"What we have in Thamrin is just an act of suicide, it has nothing to do with the way Abu Bakar preaches about peace and about Islamic State," he said.

"His idea about Islamic State is without violence – that is what we are trying to argue in this court hearing."

In 2014 Bashir pledged allegiance to Islamic State behind bars on Nusakambangan island, although another of his lawyers said earlier this month he no longer supported the extremist movement.

"He did in the past because he did not know what ISIS was," Achmad Michdan told Fairfax Media.

"Now after he knows what ISIS is he does not support it anymore. He only supports anyone or any organisation who supports the upholding of the Koran and Hadith."

Follow Jewel Topsfield on Facebook

Follow FairfaxForeign on Twitter

Follow FairfaxForeign on Facebook

Advertisement