RealNews

Indonesian Cleric's Trial Opens; He's Said to Have Al Qaeda Ties

A radical Islamic cleric who had long been considered untouchable sat impassively today at the beginning of his trial as he listened to prosecutors accuse him of taking part in terrorist acts against Indonesian Christians and of plotting to blow up the American Embassy in Singapore. The 25-page indictment against the cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, read in turn by three prosecutors, linked him to Al Qaeda, although the group was not mentioned by name. The indictment alleged, for instance, that in 2001, Mr. Bashir approved Ali Ghufron, better known as Mukhlas, to replace a man known as Hambali. American and Australian officials have said that Hambali was Al Qaeda’s chief operative in Southeast Asia, and he is now on the run. Mr. Mukhlas was arrested several months ago and was charged in connection with the nightclub bombing in Bali that killed nearly 200 people in October. Mr. Bashir has not been charged in the bombing, but several men identified as his associates in his indictment today have been. Full Story

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