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Indonesian Militant Sentenced to Eight Years for 2005 Bali Bombings


An Indonesian court has sentenced a man to eight years in prison for his role in triple bomb attacks on the island of Bali in 2005. Abdul Aziz was convicted of helping those directly responsible for the blasts, and for creating a terrorist Web site.

A Bali court found Abdul Aziz guilty of harboring the alleged mastermind of the suicide bomb attacks that killed 20 people and injured nearly 200 on the island in October 2005.

The 30-year-old former high school computer teacher was also convicted of setting up a computer Web site for the organizers of the attacks that called on Muslims to attack Westerners.

Sidney Jones, the Southeast Asia director for the International Crisis Group, says the Aziz trial is important because it shows the court considered online support for militants as serious as sheltering a terrorist.

"Given the way the law works here, it is focused very heavily on hiding and meeting with and failing to report, because that is consistent with a specific provision of the anti-terrorism law here, but in fact his role in the whole operation was to transfer material to the Internet," Jones says.

Aziz is the first to be sentenced in connection with the 2005 attacks. Verdicts are expected this month for three other defendants also charged with harboring the alleged architect of the bombings, Noordin Mohammad Top, or for helping to carry out the attacks.

Top is also wanted in connection with three other attacks, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people. He remains at large. Top and those accused in the attacks have been linked to the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah.

Jones says Top may be on the run, but the investigation into last year's Bali bombings shows he was able to quickly recruit help for that attack and could still be dangerous.

"People who had been part of the J.I. network jumped over with an entire cell to join Noordin. And if that kind of transfer of people can take place so easily, then I would say that Noordin has got to be considered to be a serious problem until he is behind bars," Jones says.

Prosecutors had called for Aziz to serve 10 years in prison, but the judges handed down a lighter sentence on the grounds that he was young and had shown remorse. Aziz said he did not yet know if he would appeal his sentence.

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