Indonesia jails leaders of group behind Bali bombings

The figureheads of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to Al Qaeda, were charged with sending militants to Syria

Boys play with their bicycles during sunset on Kuta beach in Bali, Indonesia, Friday, July 10, 2020. Indonesia's resort island of Bali reopened after a three-month virus lockdown Thursday, allowing local people and stranded foreign tourists to resume public activities before foreign arrivals resume in September. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
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Indonesia jailed two leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda-linked group behind the 2002 Bali bombings, for terrorism offences linked to sending militants to fight in Syria.

On Monday, the group's leader, Para Wijayanto, and deputy Budi Trikaryanto were sentenced to seven years and six-and-a-half years in jail, respectively, at a Jakarta court hearing conducted over video because of coronavirus concerns.

"The defendants prepared cadres to go to Syria as well as supported them financially while on the mission," presiding judge Alex Adam Faisal told the East Jakarta District Court.

The court said Wijayanto, 56, who took over as the group's figurehead in 2009, recruited Indonesians to fight and train with groups, including an Al Qaeda-linked organisation, opposed to Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad between 2012 and 2018.

Wijayanto and Trikaryanto also faced charges of belonging to a banned organisation.

Indonesia outlawed Jemaah Islamiyah in 2008, making it illegal to belong to the group.

Authorities also cracked down on the group's network as Indonesia grappled with a string of extremist attacks.

The group has been overshadowed in recent years by militants loyal to ISIS.

But Jemaah Islamiyah was once synonymous with terrorism in Indonesia and is beginning to rebuild its membership, according to security experts.

The 2002 bombings in a popular Bali entertainment district, which killed more than 200 people, remains Indonesia's deadliest terrorist attack.

Most victims were tourists from more than 20 countries but Australia suffered the biggest loss, with 88 of its citizens killed in the attack.

The group carried out a string of deadly attacks in subsequent years, including a 2003 car bombing at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed a dozen people and a suicide car bombing outside the Australian embassy a year later.

Monday's ruling comes weeks after a married couple with links to ISIS were jailed over a failed attempt to assassinate Indonesia's former chief security minister Wiranto last year.

The South-East Asian country's most recent major militant attack was in 2018, when a family of suicide bombers attacked several churches in Surabaya, killing dozens of people.