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Radical Indonesian Cleric Stands Trial on Terrorist Charges


Radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, center, arrives for his trial at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 24, 2011.

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, center, arrives for his trial at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 24, 2011.

Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has denied charges that he established an al-Qaida-like group to carry out terrorist attacks and assassinations in Indonesia.

During a court hearing Thursday in Jakarta, Bashir accused the United States and Australia of conspiring with Indonesian authorities to bring the charges against him. Prosecutors accuse Bashir of setting up a training camp for terrorists discovered last year on Aceh province. Once trained, the terrorists would carry out gun attacks styled after the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, with targets including President Suislo Bambang Yudhoyono and foreigners in Jakarta.

During his remarks, Bashir denounced moderate political and Islamic leaders as "infidels."

Dressed in white robes and a skull cap, Bashir was greeted by hundreds of supporters when he arrived at the courthouse under heavy guard and amid shouts of "Allah akbar" (God is Great). The group briefly clashed with armed police guards after they were barred from entering the courthouse.

He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Bashir is alleged to be a co-founder of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terrorist group accused of carrying out a series of deadly suicide bombings in Indonesia, including the 2002 bombing of a nightclub on Bali island that left 202 people dead, many of them Australian tourists.

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