Cleric jailed four years for funding terrorist training camp

The Central Jakarta District Court's sentence for Afief Abdul Madjid was half the eight-year sentence that the state prosecution had called for.
The Central Jakarta District Court's sentence for Afief Abdul Madjid was half the eight-year sentence that the state prosecution had called for.ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

RADICAL cleric Afief Abdul Madjid has been sentenced to four years' jail for funding a terrorist paramilitary training camp in Aceh, but was acquitted of joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria  (ISIS) group and spreading its violent ideology for lack of evidence.

The Central Jakarta District Court handed down the jail sentence yesterday, which was half the eight-year sentence that the state prosecution had demanded.

Afief was indicted under the 2003 anti-terrorism law that can punish anyone for creating public fear, conspiring to carry out terror activities or funding terror activities.

In their arguments, the prosecutors pointed out that ISIS carried out killings amid other violent acts and was declared a terrorist group by the Indonesian government in November last year.

Yesterday, the court found 63-year-old Afief guilty of giving 25 million rupiah (S$2,500) to a man named Ubaid that went towards the Aceh paramilitary camp, which was raided in 2010.

In acquitting him of the charge of joining ISIS and spreading its violent ideology back home, the three-judge panel said there was not enough evidence to show that he had joined ISIS or pledged allegiance to it.

"The prosecutors accused the defendant of joining military training, pledging allegiance to ISIS and spreading the  ideology, but this was not convincingly proven during the trial," presiding judge Mas'ud, who goes by one name, said yesterday.

But just minutes after the court acquitted Afief of the ISIS-related charge, one of his supporters shouted "Daulah Islamiyah, Merdeka!" or "Freedom for the Islamic State!".

More than 25 Afief supporters who were in court also shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) while the judge was reading out the verdict.  One of them, Mr Umar Abdul Azis, 50, told The Straits Times: "The verdict is a form of oppression on cleric Afief who is just a  religious teacher."

Afief is the first Indonesian to be have been tried for involvement in ISIS-related activity. He was arrested in August last year in Bekasi, West Java and his trial began in mid-February.

Mr Suroyo, one of the prosecutors, told The Straits Times that they plan to appeal against the jail sentence and the acquittal.

He said the prosecution had produced witnesses, including a humanitarian agency official who helped arrange Afief's trip to Syria and a  jailed cleric who, together with Afief, had been speakers at a forum in Central Java to promote ISIS.

wahyudis@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'Cleric jailed four years for funding terrorist training camp'. Print Edition | Subscribe