Indonesian Court Indicts Cleric on Terror Charges

Arie Firdaus
180515-ID-suspect-620.jpg Indonesian police escort Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman (in orange shirt) as he enters the South Jakarta District Court, Feb. 15, 2018.
Arie Firdaus/BenarNews

A jailed Indonesian cleric could face the death penalty after a court indicted him Thursday over allegations that he masterminded a deadly Islamic State-linked terror strike in Jakarta in January 2016 and other attacks from his prison cell.

Aman Abdurrahman, 46, had instructed others to use violence to create terror among the general public and cause mass casualties including the attack in Jakarta two years ago, prosecutor Anita Dewayani told the South Jakarta District Court.

Indictment documents presented Thursday said Aman had inspired terrorist acts from 2016 to 2017. These also included two bomb blasts that killed five people at a bus terminal in East Jakarta on May 24, 2017, and a November 2016 bomb attack on a church in East Kalimantan province that killed a small girl and injured three other children.

“He is the intellectual actor behind all the terror attacks,” Anita told the court, referring to Aman.

On Jan. 14, 2016, two of four militants blew themselves up just before the lunch hour in central Jakarta’s popular Sarinah shopping mall. The attack left eight people dead, including the four militants, and 23 other people injured. The attack was the first terrorist act claimed by Islamic State (IS) in Southeast Asia.

Anita later told reporters that Abdurrahman, who had pledged allegiance to IS, faced a life sentence or the death penalty, if convicted of the charges.

The handcuffed cleric, who has been described in Indonesian media as the country’s most-dangerous extremist, arrived at the courthouse under tight security with counterterrorism officers carrying rifles standing guard outside the building. Aman wore a head scarf and an orange vest commonly used by criminal suspects.

Anita told the five-judge court panel that Aman founded the IS-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a militant group that the United States had designated as a terrorist organization.

The judges appointed a lawyer for Aman, who told the court that he understood the charges and did not object to the trial.

“I object to some of the charges. But just continue with the trial,” the defendant told the court.

Aman’s indictment comes more than a week after another Indonesian court sentenced Suryadi Mas’ud (alias Abu Ridho), 45, an IS-linked militant, to 10 years in prison for smuggling handguns from the Philippines and being involved in funding terrorism and plotting attacks in Indonesia.

Since 2010, Aman has been serving a nine-year prison sentence for funding terrorist training camps in Indonesia’s Aceh province. His jail term was supposed to end in August 2017 as part of the government’s Independence Day sentence-reduction scheme, but he was re-arrested a few days before his release after officials charged him of involvement in other terror attacks.


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