Indonesia awaits Abu Bakar Ba’asyir verdict

Indonesia is ramping up security in preparation for a verdict in the terrorism trial of radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir.Police chief Sutarman said more than 3,000 security personnel would secure the Jakarta court and surrounding area.Ba’asyir, 72, is accused of helping to organise and fund a jihadi training camp in western Aceh province.He denies involvement with the training camp but has repeatedly defended it as legal under Islam.The cleric has been involved in radical Islamic groups in Indonesia for four decades.Over the years, he has been repeatedly arrested, jailed and then released.Prosecutors have asked for a life sentence for Ba’asyir.His spokesman, Hasyim Abdullah, said he was read to face “the heaviest punishment”.”He believes the verdict is deliberately designed to stop his dakwah [religious teachings],” said Mr Abdullah.He was arrested by anti-terror police last August, months after the Aceh camp was raided by police.The discovery of the camp has led to the arrests of more than 120 suspected terrorists over several months.Experts believe the Aceh group was planning to form a militia to directly attack government targets and eventually impose an Islamic state.Earlier in Ba’asyir’s trial, prosecutor Andi Muhammad Taufik told the court that the cleric had helped raise money that would have been used for terrorism.Ba’asyir has said the allegations against him were “engineered by America”.He was convicted of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bomb attacks, in which more than 200 people died.But he was freed in 2006 after his sentence was cut, and his conviction was eventually quashed on appeal.Most analysts agree that he has been the spiritual leader of the military jihadi network Jemaah Islamiah for a number of years.But he was cleared of involvement with the group after a trial in 2003. – BBC