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Indonesia Reduces Sentence for US Sanctioned Terrorist

Accused Indonesian Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman waves before his trial at a court in Jakarta (File)
Accused Indonesian Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman waves before his trial at a court in Jakarta (File)

The Indonesian government has reduced the prison sentence for one of several individuals the United States has sanctioned for links to international terrorist organizations. The government's action is part of an annual prison sentence reduction program for inmates with good behavior.

More than 50,000 inmates, including 84 convicted terrorists, had their sentences reduced as part of the government's sentence remission process for Independence Day.

Among them was Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman, who had two months taken from his five-year prison sentence. Abdurahman was convicted of crimes in connection with trying to raise funds in Saudi Arabia for the terrorist group involved in the 2009 bombing of two hotels in Jakarta that killed seven people.

Sidney Jones, a security analyst with the International Crisis Group, says Abdurahman's sentence reduction is not surprising.

“The Indonesian prison system automatically gives remission to people even terrorists with less than five years sentences and people serving more than five years get remission, or sometimes get remissions for good behavior once two thirds of their sentence has been served,” Jones said.

The reduction of Abdurahman's prison term was announced the same week the U.S. Treasury Department placed financial sanctions on Abdurahman for his links to international terrorist organizations. Sanctions were also placed on Abdul Rahim Ba'asyir, the son of convicted terrorist leader Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, and Umar Patek, who was arrested in Pakistan in the same town where Osama Bin Laden was hiding.

Jones says the sanctions are not tied directly to crimes committed in Indonesia. “The three people whose names where announced by the United States are men who have known international connections. So it is not directly related to the nature of any crimes committed. It has to do with evidence about connections to Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” she stated.

Ba-asyir has not been charged with any crimes in Indonesia. Jones says Patek, who is believed to be involved in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people, and has links to terrorist groups in the Philippines and Pakistan, will face serious jail time. But she says Patek will probably avoid the death sentence.

“In his case he played a role in constructing the first Bali bomb. He wasn't the mastermind and he wasn't the head field operative. So if you are going by analogy to other people who played a similar role, he could get a heavy sentence 20 years maybe but I would not expect him to get a death sentence,” Jones noted.

Some Indonesian law enforcement officials have criticized the justice system for being too lenient towards terrorists, but Jones says the adherence to the rule of law has also helped turn public sentiment against extremist groups.