August 19, 2022
JAKARTA – Terror convict and firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who was closely linked to the 2002 Bali bombings, attended a flag-raising Independence Day ceremony on Wednesday at Al-Mukmin Ngruki Islamic boarding school, which he once supervised, in Sukoharjo, Central Java.
A seated Ba’asyir appeared serious following the ceremony. Coordinating Human Development Minister Muhadjir Effendy acted as the inspector for the ceremony.
The 82-year-old preacher, who was once the spiritual leader of one of Indonesia’s most notorious militant extremist movements, was convicted of funding a terrorist training camp in the religiously conservative Aceh province in 2011.
He was in prison for eight years after being sentenced to 15 years by the South Jakarta District Court in 2011, before he was released in January 2021. Ba’asyir was also convicted of being involved in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 people. However, in 2006, the Supreme Court accepted his case review petition and acquitted him of all charges.
In 2019, President Joko Widodo revoked a clemency plan, with the State Palace saying that Ba’asyir was ineligible for release because he had declined to pledge loyalty to the state ideology of Pancasila and the Republic of Indonesia – special requirements for terror convicts seeking parole.
Muhadjir said he appreciated the boarding school for holding the Independence Day ceremony.
“I hope this will continue to nurture nationalism and patriotism for all students [of this school],” the minister said.
Some 600 students of Al-Mukmin Ngruki attended the ceremony, as well as members of the police and Indonesian Military (TNI).
The boarding school’s director, Yahya Abdur Rohman said the ceremony had been initiated by the Sukoharjo police and military chief.
“With their support, we hold this ceremony. We’d like to show to the outside world that [the school] is not against the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia,” Yahya said. (dre)