RADICAL Muslim cleric and alleged terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has declared that al-Qa’ida will remain a force despite the death of its leader Osama bin Laden.
In comments which are certain to anger many, and perhaps incite others, the man suspected of being behind the 2002 Bali bombings has spoken of the death of bin Laden from his jail cell in Indonesia, where he is awaiting the outcome of his latest trial on terrorism charges.
In a statement released via his spokesman, Sonhadi, Bashir said that al-Qa’ida would not die despite the demise of bin Laden, killed in an operation by US special forces near the Pakistan capital of Islamabad.
“We’re still waiting for clarification from al-Qa’ida, whether it’s true or not – that news of his death,” Bashir said.
“When it’s true, then it will not put al-Qa’ida to death. Osama’s death will not make al-Qa’ida dead.”
(The) jihad will keep on going because (the) jihad movement it’s not political, but sharia (religious law).”
Bashir has previously been linked to bin Laden through Jemaah Islamiah, the group responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings, of which he was the co-founder and spiritual leader.
He is expected to learn next week if he could face the death penalty in relation to the discovery of a new terrorist cell, known as Takjim al-Qa’ida Serambi Mekah (al-Qa’ida of the Veranda of Mecca), found training last year at a secret camp in Aceh.
It is alleged Bashir funded and organised the training camp and the new terrorist cell, and was planning to carry out attacks with suicide squads targeting Westerners, political leaders and police in Indonesia.
Prosecutors are expected to enter their sentence request at the South Jakarta District Court next Monday.
The 72-year-old served almost 26 months in prison for conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, but was later acquitted on appeal.