JAKARTA, Indonesia ( Associated Press) – Indonesian prosecutors on Wednesday postponed seeking their sentencing for a top terrorist suspect who survived 18 years of captivity and deadly attacks and sectarian conflict in the world’s most Muslim nation. was the mastermind of
Aris Sumarsono, 58, better known as Zulkarnen, is a former military commander of Jemaah Islamiyyah, a Southeast Asian terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda, which the US designated a terrorist group. The group is widely blamed for attacks, including the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, as well as attacks in the Philippines.
Prosecutors were due to issue their sentencing demands on Wednesday, but said they had not finished preparing for it.
“We need time to study the matter before issuing our demand,” prosecutor Teguh Suhendro told the East Jakarta District Court in a hearing held remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The demand was initially scheduled for November 24, but has been postponed several times. Presiding Judge Alex Adam Faisal ordered prosecutors to present their demands on January 5.
Zulkarnan had been on the run since being named a suspect in the October 2002 suicide bombings at Paddy’s Pub and Sari Club in Bali. He was arrested last year in the southern city of Lampung on the island of Sumatra, where Gemma Islamiah bomb maker Upik Lavanga was arrested a week earlier. Both were tried separately in the same court. Lavanga, who was on the wanted list of the police for 16 years, was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 8.
The police came to know about his whereabouts after questioning several suspected militants arrested earlier.
Since May 2005, Zulkarnen has been listed on the Al-Qaeda Sanctions List by the United Nations Security Council for being linked to Osama bin Laden or the Taliban.
He became the head of operations for Jemaah Islamia in 2003 following the arrest of his predecessor, Ansep Nurjaman, also known as Hambali, in Thailand.
The United States “Rewards for Justice” program offered a reward of up to $5 million for his capture. He was the only Indonesian on the list.
Zulkarnen argued that he was the leader of the network’s military wing, but was not involved in all levels of operations in the Bali bombings as he was focused on organizing followers into sectarian conflicts in Ambon and Poso and the southern Philippines.
During his trial that began in September, other convicted militants in the 2002 Bali bombings, including Omar Patek and Ali Imron, who were sentenced to 20 years and prison terms, respectively, supported Zulkarnen’s argument that they were plotted. was aware of but did not play a role in its operation.
An Indonesian court banned Jemaah Islamia in 2008, and continued crackdown by security forces with the support of the US and Australia helped to weaken the terrorist network.
Terrorist attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less lethal attacks targeting the government, mainly police and security forces, inspired by the Islamic State group’s strategy abroad. Huh.
Indonesia’s police counter-terrorism unit, known as Densus 88, has arrested more than 500 suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members over the past two years, including a member of the Indonesia Ulema Council, the country’s highest Islamic body. who was arrested last month.
Officials estimate that the group has more than 6,000 members.