Muslim cleric Baashir denies funding al-Qaeda in Aceh cell in Indonesia

JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Baashir on Thursday denied charges accusing him of funding the terrorist cell known as al-Qaeda in Aceh cell operating in Indonesia, the Antara news agency reported.

The comments were made during the proceedings of his case at the South Jakarta District Court in the Indonesian capital. Outside the building, hundreds of Bashir's supporters staged protests against what they labeled as an unfair trial while police forces safeguarded the court building.

Furthermore, Baashir, the suspected spiritual leader of the Indonesian terrorist cell, claimed that the charges were engineered by the antiterrorism police's 88 special detachment (Densus 88).

The cleric read a 90-page defense statement rejecting the accusations of providing one billion rupiahs ($900,000) for purchasing weapons for al-Qaeda in Aceh. Baashir added that he is financially unable to provide such amount of money.

Baashir requested the national police head, prosecutors general and chairman of the Supreme Court to acquit him of all charges. If convicted, the Muslim cleric faces death penalty.

The al-Qaeda in Aceh cell was discovered in the northern most tip of Sumatra Island in February 2010. Baashir was accused of providing financial aid for the purchase of nine assault rifles, four AK-47s, two AK-58s, six revolvers, one handgun and 19,900 bullets.

On Monday, two terror suspects were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment each for their roles in the terrorist cell. Komarudin al-Mustaqim, 37, was convicted for being the leader of a training camp in for terrorists in Aceh Besar.

On the other hand, Luthfi Haidaroh, 32, was the treasurer of Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) and collected funds for the training. Baashir is also the leader of JAT. The camp was training individuals to carry out Mumbai-style attacks involving suicide gunmen targeting foreigners, especially from western countries, in Indonesia.

The al-Qaeda in Aceh group perpetrated the 2002 Bali attacks which resulted in the death of 202 people. The network's alleged operations leader Dulmatin was shot dead by police in March last year. Baashir also denied knowing Dulmatin.


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