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Indonesian Police to Question Bashir - 2004-04-02

A lawyer for Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric alleged to be the leader of a Southeast Asian terrorist group linked to al-Qaida, says Indonesian authorities intend to question his client again next week, shortly before his scheduled release from prison.

Bashir is due to be freed later this month after serving a sentence for immigration violations and forgery. Although he denies any connection with the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, Indonesian authorities say he could face additional charges if he is linked to terrorist attacks.

The national police chief, Da'i Bachtiar, has confirmed that Bashir is the focus of a new investigation. Indonesian authorities say they are studying statements from terrorist suspects in U-S custody, to see if there is evidence to bring new charges against Bashir.

Mohamed Nasir, an Islamic militant jailed in Indonesia, is claiming that he received orders from Bashir to kill Americans. Nasir's accusation came in an interview with a Malaysian television station.

Nasir says Abu Bakar Bashir and another suspected Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Hambali, distributed a religious edict said to have been issued by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, calling on activist Muslims to kill Americans.

Nasir was arrested last year in Indonesia, and has since spoken out against terrorism.