Jailed Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in 2016 gesturing during a court appearance in Cilacap, Central Java. Picture: AFP
Jailed Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in 2016 gesturing during a court appearance in Cilacap, Central Java. Picture: AFP

Bali bombing mastermind to walk free from jail

SOMETIME this week, a frail old man with a big toothy grin will shuffle out of a Bali prison in a move that will infuriate and bring joy to thousands of people in equal measure.

The Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the ideological leader of the Bali bombers and an army of Indonesian militants, is being released early from a 15-year prison sentence with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo relenting on his lawyers' appeals.

The President had only one condition for the 81-year-old that he renounce his radical beliefs; this was a watering down of earlier conditions including that he recognise the secular government. He refused this on the grounds he believes the government should be Islamic and that he was answerable to only one man - God.

Exactly what constitutes "radical" for him to renounce is debatable and Bashir's version condemns violence but not other views other would see as extremist. At any rate no concession has been made.

So why now is the spiritual leader of the al-Qaeda-linked terror group Jemaah Islamiyah which committed the 2002 Bali bombings killing 202 people including 88 Australians controversially set to walk free?

Read the full story at The Daily Telegraph



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