Indonesian police have arrested a radical Islamist preacher accused of providing support for extremists linked with the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, officials said. Abu Bakar Bashir is accused of involvement in an Islamic militant training camp uncovered by police in Aceh province in February, said the counter-terrorism chief at the security ministry Ansyaad Mbai. "He had been involved in terror network in Aceh. As we know, that terror group in Aceh is linked with Jemaah Islamiyah and many other extremist groups in our country," Mr Mbai said, confirming the arrest.
"One of the allegations is that he provided funding to the Aceh military training. It's one of many allegations weighed against him," he added. The arrest was made early today in the district of Ciamis, West Java, a police source said, adding that Bashir would be taken to police headquarters in Jakarta. Police are expected to give a press conference later today. Bashir, 71, is known for his hardline rhetoric and has been accused of providing spiritual leadership to Jemaah Islamiyah, a claim he denies.
He served almost 26 months for conspiracy over the 2002 terror attacks on Bali nightspots that killed more than 200 people, before being cleared and released in 2006. The NGO International Crisis Group said last month that Bashir had returned to the police radar in May, when officers raided the headquarters of his Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) group in Jakarta and arrested three of his followers. The trio were charged over the training camp in Aceh, International Crisis Group said. Bashir insisted he had no links with the Aceh group.
Along with close ally Abdullah Sungkar, Bashir was jailed by the Suharto regime from 1978 to 1982 for inciting people to reject the secular national ideology in favour of an Islamic state. *AFP