Indonesian court jails top terrorist for 8 years
JAKARTA—An Indonesian court sentenced Islamist extremist Abu Tholut to eight years in prison Thursday for helping to establish a terror training camp for an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group.
Tholut, 49, who has seven days to appeal, was found guilty of recruiting and raising illegal funds for the terror camp, which discovered last year in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra.
“The court finds that your involvement in the training camp violated the anti-terrorism laws. You also owned and controlled two weapons and explosive materials without permits,” judge Musa Arief Aini said sentencing him.
Aini said that Tholut had conducted a survey to find a place for the camp along with members of Southeast Asia’s Al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), including its alleged spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir, and two prominent Indonesian militants Dulmatin and Ubaid.
Dulmatin — the bomb-maker who allegedly orchestrated the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people — was shot dead last year during anti-terror police raids.
Ubaid was sentenced to 10 years’ in jail for his role as treasurer of the new Aceh cell Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), also known as Al-Qaeda in Aceh.
Bashir, who founded JAT in 2008, was jailed in May along with dozens of other militants allegedly training at the camp for Mumbai-style attacks against Westerners and security forces, as well as assassinations of political leaders.
Tholut’s sentence is more lenient than the 12 years sought by Indonesian prosecutors on Thursday for what they called an “evil conspiracy”.
He received militia training in Afghanistan during the mujahedeen war against the Soviets in the late 1980s and became a leading figure in JI’s terror network when he returned home.
He reportedly sent Islamic militants to fight Christians in Sulawesi from 1998 to 2001 and served around half of a seven-year prison sentence handed down in 2004 for the bombing of a shopping mall in Jakarta three years earlier.
Tholut, from Central Java, also allegedly helped establish training camps for Islamic militants in the Southern Philippines, including the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.
Hundreds of suspected militants have been arrested or killed in connection with the Aceh network.
Indonesia has been rocked by a series of attacks staged by the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people.