The Indonesian government has indicted extremist Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir on charges of treason and terrorism. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 23rd. Bashir is the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah [jem-ah-ah is-lah-mee-ah], a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida. As Indonesian Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil [mah-TOE-ree ahb-DOOL jah-LEEL] said, “We know how dangerous he and other radical groups are. These radical movements are foes of democracy.”
Jemaah Islamiyah is committed to establishing an extremist Muslim state covering the territory of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the southern Philippines. The overwhelming majority of Muslims in southeast Asia reject Jemaah Islamiyah’s agenda and activities.
Over the years, Jemaah Islamiyah has carried out numerous terrorist attacks. They include the October 2002 attacks on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed about two-hundred people. Nearly three dozen suspects have been arrested in connection with the Bali massacre.
Another major act of terrorism by Jemaah Islamiyah was perpetrated on Christmas eve 2000. Bombs were set off at Christian churches and other buildings in nine cities across Indonesia. Nineteen people were killed and about fifty were wounded. Among the Jemaah Islamiyah leaders still being sought in connection with the Christmas eve bombings is Riduan Isamuddin [RID-wahn is-ah-MOO din], known as Hambali [HAHM-bah-lee]. He has also been linked to terrorist plots in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
As Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri said on April 14th, “Terrorism must be fought, not feared.” By prosecuting Abu Bakar Bashir and other Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists -- and aggressively pursuing those like Hambali who are still at large -- Indonesia shows that it is a serious member of the coalition against terrorism.