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Indonesian Hotel Bombings Trial Begins

An alleged Indonesian militant has gone on trial for his role in the suicide attacks on two Jakarta hotels that killed seven and injured more than 50 people.

Prosecutors say 25-year-old Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman tried to raise money to fund the bombings at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta last July.

His went on trial Tuesday on charges of violating the country's Anti-Terror Law. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Jibril has denied any involvement in the bombings.

Terrorism analyst Sidney Jones says while not a significant player in the bombings, Jibril has long ties to the Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiah and al Qaida.

"It is interesting that Jibril himself was in Karachi as part of a JI cell from 1999 till 2000 or 2001, and at that time the cell was being used as a service center for Southeast Asians who wanted to go al Qaida camps inside Afghanistan," said Jones. "So Jibril himself must have had some communication with al Qaida during that period, and the big question is whether he maintained those links, number one, and secondly whether his efforts to or his alleged efforts to obtain funding in late 2008 played on any of those existing contacts."

The indictment says Jibril met with Noordin Top, the alleged mastermind of the attack.

In the past decade Noordin was involved in a string of deadly bombings in Indonesia. He was killed last year in a shootout with police soon after the hotel bombings.

After meeting with Noordin, prosecutors say Jibril sent an e-mail to his brother Ahmad Isrofil Mardhotillah, who was in the Saudi holy city of Mecca. The email said "I have met with N. we talked long in car…. Preacher N needs 100 million."

Rahman and another suspect in the bombings, Syaefudin Zuhrithen, then flew to Mecca to arrange financing, the indictment alleges. Zuhrithen was later killed in a police raid. The indictment did not specify how much money they raised and whether any reached Noordin.

Jones says it is hard to say whether there is enough evidence against Jibril to convict him.

"It will be enough to prosecute him," said Jones. "Whether it will be enough to convict him is anther question and I am not sure it will be but the police have a back up they can use I think, which is document forgery. If indeed he used a passport under a false name to go Saudi Arabia. We'll have to see."

So far police have killed six people and arrested more than a dozen suspects in the hotel bombing investigation.

Indonesia suffered a number of bomb attacks - mainly linked to the militant group Jemaah Islamiah - in the first years of the century. But the country of 240 million people has been praised in recent years for maintaining a pluralist democracy, while punishing Islamists behind the bombings.