Islamists vow revenge for the death of a ‘warrior’
Tom Allard, Jakarta | May 4, 2011
THE killing of Osama bin Laden will bring ''disaster'' to the US and the al-Qaeda leader secured victory even in death, according to radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.
Bashir, who is in prison as he faces charges of leading and financing a new terrorist organisation, met with his acolytes yesterday for the first time since news of bin Laden's demise.
''Ustad Abu [Bashir] said if the news is true, it means Osama won the battle twice,'' said his spokesman, Sonhadi, who visited Bashir in the Jakarta penitentiary.
''First, he will get the title as martyr in the afterlife and, second, his death is the victory over the hegemony of infidels. Ustad Abu also said Allah will bring disaster upon the US for killing the warrior of Islam … we just don't know what that disaster will be.''
Mr Sonhadi, who himself was imprisoned for four years for hiding terrorist leaders, said Bashir had his doubts that bin Laden had been killed, noting that no pictures of his corpse had been made public.
It was a theme prominent on Indonesian jihadist blogs and comments from militants yesterday, as were predictions of bloody revenge.
''Americans may be partying, celebrating his death. But they will cry later and be blanketed with pain,'' Syawal Yasin told the Jakarta Globe newspaper.
Syawal is the son-in-law of Abdullah Sungkar, who along with Bashir founded Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the terrorist group with direct links to al-Qaeda responsible for multiple attacks in Indonesia, including both Bali bombings.
JI has been badly fractured thanks to successful law enforcement efforts but other extremist groups have come to the fore, including some that are legal and have links to the police and political figures.
The Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI), which has been behind a string of attacks on religious minorities, will hold a commemoration service tonight in honour of bin Laden.
Jakarta's governor and police chief attended FPI's anniversary celebrations last year. The Jakarta police chief, Timur Prabopo, was later appointed national police chief by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. A series of plots have been uncovered in Indonesia in the past two years, including a plan to explode a massive bomb near a church during Good Friday services last month.
Any operational involvement by al-Qaeda in Indonesian militant groups these days remains unclear but great intrigue surrounds the arrest of Umar Patek, Indonesia's most wanted militant, in January in Abbottabad, the same Pakistani city where bin Laden was slain. The arrest followed a firefight in which the JI operative was shot.
Patek was a senior JI member who trained in Afghanistan and acted as deputy field commander in the first Bali bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Pakistani media reports said Patek was liaising with an al-Qaeda operative, a courier who also worked as a clerk at Abbottabad's post office.
According to an anonymous source from Indonesia's intelligence agency quoted in Koran Tempo, Patek was in Abbottabad to meet with al-Qaeda operatives and plan attacks to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Anthony Bubalo, an analyst writing on the Lowy Interpreter blog, said: ''Perhaps most interesting of all is why bin Laden was not spooked into moving location as a result of Patek's arrest.''