Police out in force ahead of Bashir verdict
Thousands of Indonesian police are being deployed in Jakarta as a court prepares to deliver the verdict in Abu Bakar Bashir's terrorism trial.The 72-year-old radical Muslim cleric has been on trial for allegedly raising funds for a terrorist training camp in Aceh.
He is also widely believed to be responsible for inspiring the Bali bombers who claimed the lives of 202 people, including 88 Australians in the tourist district of Kuta in 2002.
The judges in South Jakarta's district court will deliver their verdict today and prosecutors have asked for a life sentence.
Some of the judges have received a text message circulating around Jakarta from an anonymous sender who threatens to detonate dozens of explosives to coincide with the reading of the verdict.
Security forces are braced for a defiant response from Bashir's supporters, with about 3,000 officers, including snipers and riot police, stationed in the region around the court.
Nearly 400 soldiers will also be deployed.
Bashir has been defiant to the end, telling the ABC the jihad in Indonesia will continue regardless of the outcome of his trial.
During the closing stages of his trial, Bashir told the ABC: "Jihad won't stop. You get rid of this one, others will emerge. Because in the end, Islam will win, others will be destroyed. Wait and see. What we have now is a process, and jihad won't end."
To this day Bashir bears a grudge against the Australian Government because he says it pressured Indonesia to keep him in jail the first time he was convicted.
"Australia is very cruel, I should have received remissions but I didn't because of Australia, and Indonesia just obeyed," he said.
The case against Bashir in this trial has been much stronger than in the past, bolstered by evidence from his followers who have also been tried and convicted.
Bashir says he knew they were going to engage in armed training but that he did not incite them and it was not terrorism.
In any case, he says they were simply doing what good Muslims must do - preparing to fight to defend Muslims, be it in Afghanistan, Palestine or Indonesia.
And he says he warned them not to take up arms unless they were prepared to follow through.
"I told them if they dared to do that there are only two things left, to kill or to be killed. You can't get arrested, you can't hide. It's not allowed," he said.
Since the Aceh cell was discovered early last year there has been a string of small-scale terror attacks, some of them linked to the Aceh group, others to Bashir's broader band of followers and still others launched by enthusiastic amateurs.
Ten years after Indonesia was forced to confront its terrorism problem it is still struggling to muster the real force necessary to quash violent extremism.