3 Sentenced in Indonesia, 3 Charged in Malaysia, for Terror-Related Offenses

Arie Firdaus and Fahirul N. Ramli
Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur
160608_ID_Convicts_1000.jpg Yuskarman enters a courtroom in East Jakarta for his sentencing hearing, June 8, 2016.
Arie Firdaus/BenarNews

Indonesian judges Wednesday sent three men to prison for involvement with terrorist groups, while three people in neighboring Malaysia were charged with establishing links with the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

Yuskarman, a 32-year-old Indonesian man, was sentenced Wednesday to four years and eight months for being involved in a plot to bomb a Christian church, a Buddhist monastery and a police station in his hometown of Solo, Central Java, using money provided by Bahrun Naim, a senior Indonesian member of IS based in Syria, the East Jakarta District Court heard.

Three other defendants who were convicted for their involvement in the plot – Ibadurrahman, Sugiyanto, and Syarifuddin – will be sentenced on June 15.

“In court testimony, Sugiyanto said the defendant’s house was used as a place to store a bomb” intended for use in a terrorism act,” head judge Sulung Simanjuntak told the court Wednesday.

Yuskarman and the other men were arrested in Solo in August 2015 before they could execute their plan.

Bahrun Naim became known in Indonesia after IS carried out a terrorist attack in downtown Jakarta that killed eight people, including four suspected IS operatives, on Jan. 14. Police initially named him as the mastermind of the first IS plot carried out in Indonesia.

Bahrun Naim provided money the cell that planned a series of attacks in Solo so it could build bombs, according to Adhe Bhakti, a terrorism expert at the Center for the Study of Radicalization and De-radicalization (PAKAR), a Jakarta think-tank.

“The money was sent via their network. Their plan was to use the bomb to blow up the Market Police Station in Kliwon, a church, a Buddhist monastery in Kepunten” Adhe told BenarNews, referring to areas of Solo. “They were going to do it on Aug. 17, 2015, but were arrested a few days before.”

Santoso followers sentenced

Meanwhile, in a separate case heard at the East Jakarta courthouse, two men who were found guilty of links to the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) group were sentenced Wednesday.

Arif Kusnadi (alias Abu Ubait) and Budi Rahmansyah were arrested on suspicion of participating in terrorist training in Poso, Central Sulawesi province, in August 2015. Arif was sentenced to six years in jail and Budi received a seven-year sentence.

The MIT, whose leader Santoso has pledged allegiance to IS, is hiding with about two dozen followers in the jungles of Central Sulawesi. About 2,000 members of the Indonesian army and police have been hunting Santoso and his group in a series of joint operations in the mountains of Central Sulawesi since January 2015.

As many as 18 suspected members of the group, including five ethnic Uyghur men have been killed in battles between militants and security forces since January 2015. Another 31 have been arrested – most of them believed to be sympathizers or couriers for the group.

Arif Kusnadi consults his lawyer at the East Jakarta District Court, June 8, 2016. [Arie Firdaus/BenarNews]

Malaysian suspects charged

In Malaysia on Wednesday, an aircraft mechanic, a car painter and a clerk were charged in three separate courts for terrorism-related offenses, including maintaining links to IS, police said.

The three were among 15 people arrested during a nationwide crackdown on suspected IS members over three days in March.

Aircraft mechanic Nor Hafizy Che Meh, 39, was charged at the Shah Alam Magistrate’s Court with two counts of promoting IS membership at his house in Kampung Melayu Subang, Selangor between Dec 2013 and October last year. Nor Hafizy could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted, police said.

In the state of Selangor, car painter Muhammad Aizam Mat Zin, 39, was charged with  possessing three stickers related to IS, found in his home on March 22. He could face a maximum of seven years in prison if convicted, police said.

In the state of Perak, clerk Rafidah Juma’at, 26, was charged with having books and documents related to terrorism at her house in Taman Bistari, Ayer Tawar.

If convicted, she would face a maximum of seven years in prison, according to police.

Caseload set to increase

With the latest sentences in Indonesia, 15 people have been sent to prison for links to the so-called Islamic State.

That number could increase because Densus 88, Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism police unit, has arrested about 40 people following the Jan. 14 terror attack in Jakarta.

In Malaysia, the Home Ministry, citing intelligence sources, claimed that more than 130 Malaysians have tried to join IS in Iraq or Syria. At least 19 Malaysians have been killed while fighting for IS in the Middle East, according to Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, chief of the Royal Malaysia Police’s counter-terrorist branch.

Since 2013, Malaysian police have arrested 193 suspects linked to IS and 58 have been charged in court, according to police statistics.


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