Key dates in the life of Indonesia’s firebrand Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir

Monday, August 9, 2010

Key dates in life of Indonesian cleric

Important dates in life of Muslim militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who was arrested Monday for alleged links to terrorist activities:

—1972: Bashir co-founds al-Mukmin Islamic school in Ngruki, near the central Indonesian town of Solo, with Islamic firebrand Abdullah Sungkar.

—1982: Flees to neighboring Malaysia to avoid a crackdown by then-dictator Suharto. Helps recruit fellow Indonesians to join the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, makes contact with alleged top al-Qaida operative Riduan Isamuddin Hambali.

—1999: Returns to Indonesia following Suharto’s ouster and begins a campaign for the imposition of Islamic law. Allegedly named head of the militant Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

—2002: On Oct. 12, bombs explode in two nightclubs on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Under international pressure to crack down on Muslim extremists, police arrest Bashir.

—2003: Bashir goes on trial for allegedly authorizing church bombings that killed 19 people and on treason charges. He is sentenced to four years in jail for inciting others to try to overthrow the government, but an appeals court later dismisses the charges. He is eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison for immigration violations.

—2004: On April 30, Bashir is freed from Cipinang prison, but he is immediately re-arrested on charges of heading Jemaah Islamiyah and giving his blessing to the Bali bombings.

—2005: On March 3, Bashir is sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiracy in the Bali bombings but cleared of heading Jemaah Islamiyah.

—2006: On June 14, Bashir is freed from Cipinang prison.

—2008: On July 13, Bashir resigns as head of the hard-line religious group, Majlis Mujaheeden Indonesia, saying the group he founded has become un-Islamic. Ten days later he sets up Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, an ostensibly above-ground organization that embraces individuals with known ties to fugitive extremists.

—2010: On July 9, Bashir is arrested for alleged ties to a group accused of plotting Mumbai-style attacks targeting foreigners and several high-profile assassinations.

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