Bali bomber Bashir back behind bars

August 12, 2010
Jemaah Islamiya head honcho arrested

Abu Bakar Bashir being “escorted” by police

Abu Bakar Bashir, the so-called “spiritual leader” of the jihadi terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiya and probable mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombing, has been arrested for what will hopefully be the final time.  An excerpt from the Associated Press yesterday:

Indonesia has been hit by a string of suicide bombings blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked network, since 2002 when militants attacked two packed nightclubs on the resort island of Bali, killing 202 people.

Bashir, best known as a co-founder and spiritual head of JI, has been arrested twice before and spent several years in jail. But this is the first time officials say they can link him directly to terrorist activities.

They say he helped set up al-Qaida in Aceh, providing funding, helping choose its leaders — including Dulmatin, one of the alleged masterminds of the Bali bombings — and keeping in regular contact with its field commanders.

Though Bashir faces a maximum penalty of death, few analysts believe he will get that.

“I think the strongest evidence the police are going to have against him is financing the camp in Aceh,” said Sidney Jones, an expert on Southeast Asian terror groups.

And where did Bashir get the funding for the Acehnese terrorist camp in the first place?  Let’s look at the history. 

  • In the 1980s, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, Bashir “recruited volunteers to fight in the anti-Soviet Muslim brigades in Afghanistan and sought funding from Saudi Arabia while maintaining connections with former colleagues in Indonesia.”
  • Writing for the National Bureau of Asian Research, Dr. Zachary Abuza found that the Bali bombing “required less than $50,000 to plan and execute,” and that Jemaah Islamiyah has used Islamic charities (with Saudi links), front companies, mosque donations, hawalas, cash couriers, and criminal activities to raise funds.
  • The Times reported in 2002 that Bashir may have received $74,000 from one of Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.  Indonesian jihadists also received funding from Al Haramain, a Saudi charity whose U.S. branch was shut down by Treasury years ago.

Since the death penalty appears to have been ruled out, the two words I fear the most are compassionate release


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