News / Asia

Indonesian Police Charge Cleric in Suspected Terror Plots

Police have formally charged radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakr Bashir under Indonesia's anti-terrorism law. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death or life in prison, but experts say Bashir is more likely to get a sentence of about 10 years.

Senior police official Lt.-Gen. Ito Sumardi said Wednesday that authorities have bank records and taped telephone conversations to back evidence provided by other suspects. He said the cleric has refused to answer questions.

Bashir was arrested Monday after a months-long investigation into a terrorist group calling itself al-Qaida in Aceh.  Officials charge he was deeply involved in funding and helping to train terrorists who were plotting a series of attacks on hotels and embassies.

The group also allegedly planned to assassinate Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during next week's Indonesia independence day celebrations.

Bashir has denied any involvement in terrorism.  He is the founder of the group Jamaah Anshrut Tauhid, which is one of several groups that police say operate under the al-Qaida in Aceh umbrella.

Bashir spent more than two years in prison for his involvement in the 2002 terrorist bombings on Bali that killed 202 people.  The Indonesian Supreme Court threw out his conviction in 2006.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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