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Bashir calls bombers ‘counter-terrorists’

ICC Note: A convicted terrorist, and Islamic cleric, says the destruction of churches in Indonesia is actually counter-terrorism and applauds the bombers’ motives.

6/27/07 Indonesia (Agence France-Prese) – “There are no terrorists in Indonesia . What there are, are counter-terrorists,” Bashir said.

“The aims and sacrifices of the bombers, in their efforts to defend Islam and Muslims in making war against the real terrorist – that is, the United States of America and its allies – need to be taken as a model,” Bashir said.

The firebrand 68-year-old bearded cleric gained notoriety after the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali , which killed 202 people.

He was jailed for nearly 26 months for a role in the attacks, but his conviction was overturned in December, to the outrage of victims’ families…he called on Indonesian Muslims to refrain from accusing people of terrorism, saying it would be tantamount to assisting the US .

Bashir spoke at a press conference to announce plans, together with 13 lawyers from the “Team for the Defence of Muslims,” to file a suit demanding that Indonesia ‘s counter-terrorism police unit be disbanded.

The team of lawyers has provided defence counsel for several militant suspects…

Bashir has redoubled his efforts to get Sharia law enforced in Indonesia , the world’s most populous Muslim nation, since his release from prison.

He was named as the former amir of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a regional extremist network blamed for a string of bombings including the Bali attacks, by Abu Dujana, the head of JI’s military wing.

Dujana was caught by police earlier this month, but Bashir has denied his claim.

The vast majority of Muslims in Indonesia , a nation of 232 million people, practice a very tolerant form of the religion and are highly critical of Bashir’s position.

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