Abu Bakar Bashir
Abu Bakar Bashir (Arabic: أبو بكر باعشير;Malay pronunciation: [abubakar basir]; pronunciation (help·info) AH-boo BAH-kahr BAH-SHEER;Arabic pronunciation: [əˌbuˈbɛkər ba:ʕaɕir]) also Abubakar Ba'asyir, Abdus Somad, and Ustad Abu ("Teacher Abu"); born 17 August 1938) is an Indonesian Muslim cleric and leader of Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid.
He ran the Al-Mukmin boarding school in Ngruki, Central Java, which he co-founded with Abdullah Sungkar in 1972. He was in exile in Malaysia for 17 years during the secular New Order administration of President Suharto resulting from various activities, including urging the implementation of Sharia law.
Intelligence agencies and the United Nations claim he is the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah (also known as JI) and has links with Al-Qaeda. In August 2014, he publicly pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and his declaration of a caliphate.
Bashir was born in Jombang, East Java, on 17 August 1938, to a family of Hadhrami Arab and Javanese descent. He was a student of Gontor Islamic boarding school in Ponorogo, graduating in 1959, before entering Al-Irsyad University, in Solo, Central Java, and graduating in 1963. After time as an activist for the Islamic Student Association (Indonesian: Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam) in Solo, he was elected secretary of Al-Irsyad Youth Organization, and then president of Indonesian Islamic Youth Movement (GPII) (1961), and Indonesian Student Da'wah Organization (LDMI).
In 1972, Bashir founded Al-Mukmin boarding school with friends Abdullah Sungkar, Yoyo Roswadi, Abdul Qohar H. Daeng Matase and Abdllah Baraja. Al-Mukmin is located in Ngruki, near Solo, Central Java. Initially, Al-Mukmin's activities were limited to religious discussion after dhuhr (mid-day prayer). Following increasing interest, the founders expanded Al-Mukmin into Madrasah (Islamic school) and then to Pesantren (Islamic boarding school).
During Indonesian President Suharto's New Order, Bashir and Sungkar were arrested for a number of reasons, firstly for actively supporting Sharia, the non-recognition of the Indonesian national ideology Pancasila which in part promotes religious pluralism. Secondly, the refusal of their school to salute the Indonesian flag which signified Bashir's continual refusal to recognise the authority of a secular Indonesian state. Bashir appealed but was subsequently imprisoned without trial from 1978 to 1982. Soon after his release, Bashir was convicted on similar charges; he was also linked to the bomb attack on the Buddhist monument Borobudur in 1985 but fled to Malaysia. During his years in exile Bashir undertook religious teachings in both Malaysia and Singapore. The United States government alleged that during this period he became involved with Jamaah Islamiyah, an alleged militant Islamist group. Bashir remained in exile until Indonesian President Suharto's fall in 1998.
Bashir returned to Indonesia in 1999 and became a cleric, renewing his call for Sharia law. Ba'asyir has two sons—Abdul Roshid Ridyo Ba'asyir, born 31 January 1974 in Sukarjo, Java, Indonesia; and Abdul Rahim Ba'asyir, born 16 November 1977 in Surakarta, Java, Indonesia— and a daughter, Zulfur.
Views and controversies
Abu Bakar Bashir has been described as the ideological godfather of Jamaah Islamiyah, even though no evidence has been made public that specifically implicates Bashir in terrorist attacks undertaken by the clandestine group. He has claimed that Jemaah Islamiyah doesn't exist and that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel were behind terror attacks in Indonesia including the 2002 Bali bombings After open confessions from the bombers, Bashir claimed in August 2006 that the Bali bombs were "replaced" by a "micro-nuclear" weapon by the CIA. Bashir has expressed sympathy for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, but that he didn't "agree with all of their actions," in particular "total war." He further stated "...If this occurs in an Islamic country, the fitnah [discord] will be felt by Muslims. But to attack them in their country [America] is fine." He has claimed the 9/11 attacks were a false flag attack by America and Israel as a pretext to attack Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a speech following the Bali attacks Bashir stated, "I support Osama bin Laden's struggle because his is the true struggle to uphold Islam." the Indonesian Islamic cleric is portrayed strongly in Western media as an extremist who inspires deadly actions, however Bashir claims that the "true terrorists" are America and Israel.
He has stated his belief that Indonesia must adhere to Sharia law and has renewed his calls for an Islamic state in Indonesia.
"There is no nobler life than to die as a martyr for jihad. None. The highest deed in Islam is Jihad. If we commit to Jihad, we can neglect other deeds, even fasting and prayer".*
He founded the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council (MMI), a coalition of Islamist groups promoting the implementation of Islamic law in Indonesia. In August 2008, Bashir resigned his position as the Council's supreme leader, charging that the groups internal democratic structure contradicted Islam, and stated that he should have absolute power within the organization.
Controversy surrounding Abu Bakar Bashir heightened in early 2008 after a sermon given by the cleric in late 2007. Bashir allegedly refers to tourists in Bali as 'worms, snakes and maggots' with specific reference to the immorality of Australian infidels. Bashir states,
the young must be first at the front line, don't hide at the back. You must be at the front, dies as martyrs and all your sins will be forgiven. This is how to achieve forgiveness...'
As described by Natasha Robinson, Bashir has returned to his hardline rhetoric. His early release from prison has been described as the catalyst to his revitalised, hardline approach towards non-Muslims. Bashir's view on non-Muslims is highlighted in this statement made in East Java in 2006, 'God willing, there are none here, if there were infidels here, just beat them up. Do not tolerate them.'. Bashir's specific mention of Australian tourists has created uproar among government officials and the Australian media regarding the cleric's intolerant comments. Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith views Bashir's comments in late 2007 as being full of the intolerance that has marked many of Bashir's previous speeches.
The cleric has also previously warned of severe retribution if the Bali bombers, who killed 202 people in 2002, be executed by firing squad. On 24 March 2008 the bombers, who were on death row, lost almost any hope of escaping the death penalty as their lawyer, Fahmi Bachmid, withdrew from their last appeal. The Bali bombers were executed by firing squad at 12:15 am on 9 November 2008.
Arrest and trial
In June 2002, the USA government asked Indonesia to turn over Omar Al-Faruq. Megawati's administration captured Al-Faruq and transferred him to American custody, and he was subsequently held in Bagram prison in Afghanistan.
Similarly, US State Department translator Fred Burks revealed during Bashir's trial in Indonesia that the USA government had asked President Megawati secretly to hand-over Bashir in a meeting at Megawati's home in September 2002. Present at that meeting was US ambassador to Indonesia Ralph L. Boyce, National Security Council official Karen Brooks, and an unnamed CIA official.
Megawati refused to transfer Bashir saying, "I can't render somebody like him. People will find out".
On 14 April 2003, he was formally charged by the Indonesian government with treason, immigration violations, and providing false documents and statements to the Indonesian police. The charges are mainly related to the 2000 Christmas Eve bombings against Christian churches, which killed 18 people. In the Indonesian court, he was found not guilty of treason because the state failed to prove its case, but was found guilty on the immigration violations. In a local TV news interview, Metro TV, when asked, 'Are you truly a terrorist?'; He simply answered, 'No, I've never killed anyone.' He was sentenced to three years in prison, but the sentence was subsequently reduced to 20 months due to his good behavior in the prison.
On 15 October 2004, he was arrested by the Indonesian authorities and charged with involvement in the bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on 5 August 2003, which killed 14 people. Secondary charges in the same indictment charge him of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing, the first time he has faced charges in relation to that attack which killed 202 people. On March 3, 2005, Bashir was found guilty of conspiracy over the 2002 attacks, but was found not guilty of the charges surrounding the 2003 bombing. He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.
Remission and release
On 17 August 2005, as part of the tradition of remissions for Indonesia's Independence Day, Bashir's jail term was cut by 4 months and 15 days. On 14 June 2006, to cheers from his supporters waiting outside, Abu Bakar Bashir was released, having served 25+ months in Jakarta's Cipinang prison, where he held court and coordinated the publication of a commemorative book with his release. About forty bodyguards in uniform black jackets linked arms to escort Bashir through chanting crowds.
After returning to the boarding school for which he is the spiritual leader, he pledged a renewed campaign to impose Islamic sharia law on Indonesia. He also called Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to convert to Islam in order to save him from hell and receive God's forgiveness. Howard said that Australians would be "extremely disappointed, even distressed" at the news of the release. In August 2006, Bashir claimed that the 2002 Bali bombs were replaced by the American CIA with a "micro-nuclear" weapon. He also claimed the original bombs were only intended to injure people, not kill them - despite the bombers' own admissions and public testimony. In answer to one reporter's question as to what the West and the United States can do to make the world safer, Bashir replied, "They have to stop fighting Islam. That's impossible because it is sunnatullah [destiny, a law of nature], as Allah has said in the Koran. If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam."
On December 21, 2006, Bashir's conviction was overturned by Indonesia's Supreme Court. He publicly criticised the United Nations because he remained on the body's list of international terrorists, saying "I am terrorist number 35 on the list."
In October 2008, Bashir announced he intends to start a new Islamic group in Indonesia, JAT or Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid ("partisans of the oneness of God"), at the time the Indonesian government was preparing to execute the three Bali bombers. Bashir repeated his claim that a nuclear device was released by the CIA, saying the attack was conspiracy between "America, Australia and the Jews"  In February 2012, the US Department of State website stated that JAT was responsible for multiple coordinated attacks against innocent civilians, police and military personnel in Indonesia. "JAT has robbed banks and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, pistols and bomb-making materials", so JAT is put on US terror list.
On 13 December 2010, Indonesian police charged Bashir with involvement in plans of terror and military training in Aceh. The charge against him of inciting others to commit terrorism, carries the death penalty.
In February 2011, Bashir denied the charges of terrorism against him.
On 16 June 2011, Bashir was convicted of supporting a jihadi training camp following a four-month trial. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was acquitted of the charge of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings. However, after an appeal the Jakarta High Court reduced his sentence to nine years. Finally, the Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of Abu Bakar Bashir and annulled the Jakarta High Court sentence then reinstated the South Jakarta District Court's original 15-year sentence.
- U.S. Dept of State, Terrorist Designations of Jemmah Anshorut Tauhid, February 23, 2012, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/02/184509.htm
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Abu Bakar Bashir|
- "We should not fear being called radical" at the Wayback Machine (archived June 29, 2007) (Archive), Interview by Farish A. Noor for Al Jazeera International, August 21, 2006
- "Profile: Abu Bakar Ba'asyir", BBC
- "Bashir to face Bali charges", ABC
- "A chilling message for the infidels", The First Post
- "Bali bomb cleric freed from jail", BBC
- "Bashir's release a cause of great pain: Howard", The Age
- Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, A biography by tempointeraktif.com (Indonesian)
- Robinson, Natasha."Bashir urges attacks on 'infidel' Australians", The Australian, March 24, 2008. Accessed March 24, 2008.
- Teslik, Lee Hudson. , June 14, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2008.