Suspected Indonesian extremists face court

More than 20 alleged members of Al Qa'eda in Aceh accused of plotting to kill Westerners including US aid workers and tourists.

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JAKARTA // Alleged Islamist extremists from a group dubbed "Al Qa'eda in Aceh" went on trial today accused of plotting to kill Westerners including US aid workers and tourists. More than 20 suspects were scheduled to answer charges including carrying out acts that caused "terror or fear", possessing illegal firearms, providing money and sanctuary to terrorists, and participating in militant training.

If convicted they could face sentences ranging from three years in jail to death. They are the first suspects to appear in court out of more than 100 people detained after the discovery of a militant training camp in Aceh province, Sumatra, in February. Some 66 remain in custody pending trial. The camp allegedly gathered militants from various regional groups, including some with links to Al Qa'eda, under the leadership of the Indonesian terrorist leader Dulmatin, who was killed by police in March.

They undertook religious indoctrination and military training with the intention of driving Westerners and Christians out of Aceh, prosecutors said. The targets included American civilians and aid workers, churches, tourists and Western non-government organisations, the prosecution said in documents submitted to the court. "If they couldn't go to Palestine they would fight Americans and their allies in Indonesia, especially Americans in Aceh," it said.

One of the suspects allegedly shot and wounded a German aid worker in Aceh last year, threw grenades at a UN office in the provincial capital and shot at the rented house of two US student teachers there. Aceh is a deeply religious province on the northern tip of Sumatra which was hit by a devastating tsunami in 2004 and was rebuilt with international aid. * AFP