Indonesian Court Convicts, Sentences Two IS Supporters

Arie Firdaus
Jakarta
2016-02-23
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160223-ID-basri-1000 Defendant Muhammad Basri is pictured after he was convicted and sentenced on charges related to supporting the Islamic State (IS) at the West Jakarta District Court, Feb. 23, 2016.
Arie Firdaus/BenarNews

A Jakarta court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced two men for supporting the Islamic State extremist group, bringing to 11 the number of IS supporters serving prison sentences in Indonesia.

The convictions of Muhammad Basri and Robby Risa Putra by the West Jakarta Distict Court came as parliament was deliberating a bill that would toughen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

The bill’s provisions include extending initial detention periods of terrorism suspects from 7 to 30 days without charges.

Basri, who headed an Islamic boarding school in Makassar, South Sulawesi, was sentenced to 8 years in prison and fined Rp 90 million (U.S. $6,713) for financing terrorist-related activities and conspiring as the mastermind of a failed plot to assassinate the governor of South Sulawesi province.

Robby was sentenced to three years and six months for directly assisting half a dozen Indonesians in their travel plans to join IS in Syria, by hosting them at his house in West Jakarta, arranging their plane tickets, and driving them to the airport.

Relaxed and smiling

Prosecutors had sought 12 years for Basri and five for Robby.

According to Chief Judge Zahri, there was enough evidence in Basri’s case to prove that he had helped “dispatch Indonesian citizens to Syria in three different batches throughout 2014,” including one of his children and a nephew.

Basri, 53, appeared relaxed and smiling after the verdict and sentence were read out.

But his attorney, Ahid Syahroni, said the punishment was too heavy.

“Because he actually did not ask the two [other conspirators] to kill [South Sulawesi Gov.] Sahrul Yasin Limpo. He only said, ‘do it if you can, if not, don’t,’” Ahid told BenarNews.

Asludin Hatjani, a lawyer representing Robby, said his client would not appeal the ruling.

Earlier this month, the West Jakarta District Court sentenced seven other IS sympathizers to terms ranging from three to five years, lighter punishments than prosecutors had  sought.

Post-attack crackdown

The government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo drafted the anti-terror bill in the wake of last month’s IS-claimed attack in downtown Jakarta that left eight dead, including four alleged assailants.

The government has since launched a crackdown on suspected militants that has yielded around 40 arrests, including of 17 people suspected of links to the Jan. 14 attack.

Included among these numbers are five suspects with alleged ties to IS who were arrested Friday by Densus 88, the Indonesian police’s elite anti-terrorrist unit, in Malang, in East Java province. A sixth alleged IS supporter was arrested in the Malang area earlier last week.

According to police, one of the five suspects taken into custody on Friday included Muhammad Romly. He is the founder of a group called the East Java Ansharul Caliphate, which pledged allegiance to IS supreme leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi in July 2014.

Police load six suspected militants into a van in Malang, East Java, Feb. 21, 2016.

Police load suspected militants into a van in Malang, East Java, Feb. 21, 2016. [Heny Rahayu/BenarNews]

Singapore arrests

Meanwhile, Singaporean officials said Tuesday that they had deported four Indonesians arrested two days earlier in the city-state while on their way to join IS in Syria, according to news reports.

One of the four was a 15-year-old boy, reports quoted Indonesian police as saying.

Though his administration has stepped up efforts to go after IS supporters at home, the number of Indonesians who have joined the extremist group in the Middle East is relatively tiny – 329 – in comparison with Indonesia’s overall population of 252 million, Jokowi told a summit of U.S. and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in California last week.

"The lesson that can be learned is that fighting terrorism and reducing foreign terrorist fighters requires political stability, democratic government and freedom from foreign occupation," Jokowi said while leading a Feb. 16 session on countering radicalism and terrorism.

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata in Jakarta and Heny Rahayu in Malang contributed to this report.

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