Bashir defiant after acquittal

Clearing of cleric over 2002 Bali bombings greeted with anger in Australia.

    Bashir was released in July after serving 
    two-and-a-half years in jail[GALLO/GETTY]
    Bashir said that Thursday’s ruling was evidence that the West could not subjugate Indonesia.
     

    "I hope the West will open their eyes and if they remain adamant, there will be heavier blows. This is a blow and a warning for the West"

    Abu Bakar Bashir

    "This is evidence that even though all this time the West think that they can subjugate Indonesia, there are still some Muslims and Indonesians who have the courage to convey the truth," Bashir told Elshinta radio in a telephone interview.
     
    Bashir, 68, was released in June after completing a 30-month jail sentence for being part of a conspiracy behind the nightclub bombings.
     
    "I hope the West will open their eyes and if they remain adamant, there will be heavier blows. This is a blow and a warning for the West," he said.
     
    Intelligence agencies in Australia and the United States have both said Bashir is a founding member and spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, a violent group linked to al-Qaida and blamed for the Bali bombings as well as a string of other deadly attacks in Indonesia.
     
    Bashir has repeately denied any connections with JI and says the group does not exist.
     
    'Anger'
     
    The decision to acquit Bashir was greeted with dismay in Australia, where John Howard, the Australian prime minister, said he felt for survivors and families of victims of the 2002 attacks.
     

    The 2002 Bali nightclub bombs claimed 
    202 lives, 88 of them Australians [AP]

    Eighty-eight of the 202 people killed in the bombings were Australians.
     
    Speaking to Australian television on Friday morning, Howard said he was powerless to intervene, "but it doesn't stop us feeling upset and I know there will be a feeling of anger on the part on the parents and loved ones".
     
    Mick Keelty, Australian federal police commissioner, said he had no doubt Bashir was guilty and said his Indonesian counterparts shared that view.
     
    "Obviously it will be a filip to some who are committed to committing terrorist attacks in that part of the world," he said.
     
    But, said Keelty, "It’s very hard to get the Mr. Bigs unless you've got direct evidence, and of course the evidence against Bashir was very much circumstantial evidence."
     
    Dave Stewart, whose son Anthony died in Bali  in the Bali said the whole world considered Bashir the spiritual mastermind of Jemaah Islamiah.

    "He's going to kill more people without even thinking about it. I just cannot believe that they've said he's guilty of nothing. It's disgusting," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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