Indonesia Deploys Security Forces Ahead of Bashir Verdict

Posted June 15th, 2011 at 7:40 am (UTC-5)
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Authorities in Indonesia say more than 3,000 security forces will be in place Thursday for the conclusion of the terrorism trial of radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Officials said Wednesday that 335 soldiers will join police around the court in Jakarta for the verdict. Forces have already been deployed at shopping malls following a wave of bomb threats circulated by Twitter and text messages.

Bashir faces a sentence up to life in prison if convicted on charges of organizing and financing a terrorist training camp discovered last year in remote Aceh province. Documents found at the camp suggest the group was plotting to assassinate President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and attack Western targets in the capital.

The cleric denies that he financed terrorist activity but he remains a popular figure with radical Islamists. He is considered the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for terrorist attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Bashir spent more than two years in prison on charges related to the Bali attacks before his conviction was overturned.

On Tuesday, Indonesian authorities said they had arrested another suspect in the Bali bombings who also was linked to a terrorist organization in the Philippines.

A national police spokesman said suspect Heru Kuncoro was captured last week, during raids in central Java, Borneo and Sulawesi linked to a plot to kill police with cyanide.