Accessibility links

Police to Question Indonesian Cleric Bashir - 2002-10-17


An Indonesian cleric suspected of terrorist links is being called in for questioning by police. Indonesian police appear to be putting pressure on the militant Jemaah Islamiah group.

Indonesian police want Abu Bakar Bashir to appear for questioning Saturday.

Indonesian authorities are under pressure from neighboring countries and the United States to arrest Mr. Bashir as a suspected terrorist. In the past, Jakarta has said it did not have enough evidence against Mr. Bashir, but now the government appears to be aggressively investigating him.

Since Saturday's devastating bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali, several countries around the region have linked Mr. Bashir and Jemaah Islamiah to the al-Qaida terror network.

Earlier, in his latest comments to the media Abu Bakar Bashir warned that more attacks like the deadly blasts in Bali are possible in Indonesia.

More than 180 people were killed Saturday when a bomb tore apart a popular tourist area on Bali. Mr. Bashir denies being involved in that attack or in any other terrorist activity.

Mr. Bashir says that as long as the Indonesian government is not firm about trying to stop, what he calls, "the domination of Indonesia politics by the U.S. and Israeli governments," then he is afraid that this thing can happen again in the future.

Singapore Interior Minister Wong Kan Seng this week told VOA that members of Jemaah Islamiah, known as JI, say Abu Bakar Bashir is their leader. He says the group has plotted terrorism attacks around Southeast Asia. The organization advocates the creation an Islamic state in the region.

"They have called him the emir, which is the chief of their group," he said. "From the information given it is clear that he is their leader and such information has been shared with the Indonesian authorities."

Indonesian officials have not linked Mr. Bashir to the Bali bombing. So far in their investigation, police have said it is possible both Indonesians and foreigners may be involved in the Bali attack.

As a result of Saturday's attack, the Indonesian government is expected Friday to issue an emergency anti-terrorism decree giving the authorities wider anti-terrorism powers. The decree is designed to bypass Parliament, which has been bogged down in discussions over an anti-terrorism law.

Also Thursday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard spoke at a memorial service at the Australian consulate in Bali for victims of the deadly blast. Most of the victims appear to be Australians.

"I can on behalf of all of the people of Australia declare to you that we will do everything in our power to bring to justice those that were responsible for this foul deed," he said. "We will work with our friends in Indonesia to do that and we will work through others to achieve an outcome of justice."

Mr. Howard has come under fire in Australia because of allegations that Canberra did not do enough to warn its citizens of possible terrorist attacks in Indonesia.

XS
SM
MD
LG