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Indonesia cleric pleads not guilty to terror charges

Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir [JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to terrorism charges for allegedly funding a terrorist training camp in the Indonesian province of Aceh to prepare Islamic radicals to carry out attacks in Jakarta. Prosecutors claim Bashir provided more than $62,000 to the group [AFP report], which was allegedly planning attacks modeled after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks [JURIST news archive] and targeting high-profile members of the Indonesian government. Bashir stated in his formal response to the charges that the trial and allegations are part of a conspiracy [Reuters report] to further the interests of the US and those who do not follow Islam. Bashir also denied allegations by prosecutors that the money provided to the group was used to purchase weapons. A verdict is expected to be handed down in June.

Bashir's trial began in February [JURIST report] in the District Court of South Jakarta. He is suspected of links to al Qaeda [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) [CFR backgrounder], a terrorist group with links to al Qaeda that has been implicated in a number of attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing [JURIST news archive] that left more than 200 people dead. In 2006, the Indonesian Supreme Court overturned [JURIST report] Bashir's conviction on conspiracy charges connecting him with the bombings. He was released from prison [JURIST report] earlier in 2006 after spending 26 months in jail on different charges related to the bombings.

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