RealNews

Alleged Terror Chief’s Trial Nears Verdict

Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is likely to emerge a winner Thursday, no matter how a court rules on the terrorism-related charges against him: Acquittal or conviction will boost his credentials as a fundamentalist Muslim icon. Indonesian prosecutors and Western governments accuse Bashir of heading the al-Qaida-linked group that was blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings and other terrorist attacks. The cleric says he is innocent and denounces the allegations as a plot by Washington to silence his campaign for Islamic law. Most analysts have predicted that when the court rules Thursday, he will either walk free or receive a prison term far short of the maximum allowed — partly due to the weak case put forward by prosecutors. A verdict of not guilty is likely to anger the United States and other foreign governments, which are eager for a legal victory against terrorism networks in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Full Story

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