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Indonesian Cleric Approved Bombings, Militant Says

Prominent Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir approved church bomb attacks and also called a meeting to plan the assassination of President Megawati Sukarnoputri, a Malaysian militant told a court on Thursday. Speaking at Bashir’s treason trial via videoconference from Singapore where he is in detention, Faiz bin Abu Bakar Bafana gave the most damning testimony yet against Bashir, saying the cleric approved a series of Christmas Eve bombings across Indonesia in 2000 that killed 19 people and wounded scores more. Prosecutors have accused Bashir, as alleged head of a Southeast Asian militant network called Jemaah Islamiah, of approving those attacks and also linked him to an aborted plot to kill Megawati when she was vice president. Bashir has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers reiterated that Thursday. Before testifying, 41-year-old Faiz, a senior member of Jemaah Islamiah, wept and said Bashir had been like a father to him. He closed by telling the aging cleric he loved him but that fighting Christians was wrong and had cast Islam in a bad light. Full Story

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