Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Indonesia cleric arrested over ties to Bali bombing group

Ahmad Zain An-Najah and two associates were charged with setting up a charity organisation that diverted money to Jemaah Islamiyah.

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A senior Indonesian cleric has been arrested over allegations he raised funds for the Al-Qaeda-linked terror network behind the Bali nightclub bombings and other attacks, police said Wednesday.

Ahmad Zain An-Najah, a member of top Islamic organisation the Indonesian Ulama Council, and two associates were charged with setting up a charity organisation that diverted money to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

“This institution was created to obtain funding under the cover of social and educational purposes, and part of the funds collected was used to mobilise JI,” national police spokesman Rusdi Hartono told reporters Wednesday.

The cleric worked in the council’s fatwa division, which is in charge of issuing religious edicts, police said.

Terror groups in Indonesia, which has suffered a string of attacks since the 2002 Bali attacks, have used charities as a cover to raise funds to finance their operations, authorities have said previously.

In August, police arrested dozens of suspected extremists linked to JI and said the group had been planning a fresh attack during Indonesia’s independence day celebrations.

JI was nearly dismantled by authorities after bombs ripped through nightclubs on the holiday island of Bali, killing more than 200 people including scores of tourists in what remains Indonesia’s deadliest terror attack.

But the organisation has been rebuilding and its spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir was released from prison this year after serving time on terror-related charges.

The outlawed JI has ties with Al-Qaeda and has been implicated in other attacks over the past two decades.

It has also sent jihadists to fight in conflict-wracked Syria and Iraq, authorities have said.

Muslim-majority Indonesia is home to dozens of extremist organisations, including some loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group.

In March, an IS-inspired Indonesian couple blew themselves up at a church in Makassar on Sulawesi island, killing themselves and injuring dozens.

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