Indonesia to split up jailed terrorist leaders

Indonesia plans to further separate terrorist inmates Abu Bakar Bashir (left) and Aman Abdurrahman by moving them out of the Nusakambangan island prison, where they have already been locked up in isolation cells.
Indonesia plans to further separate terrorist inmates Abu Bakar Bashir (left) and Aman Abdurrahman by moving them out of the Nusakambangan island prison, where they have already been locked up in isolation cells. PHOTOS: REUTERS

Two top terrorists behind bars to be sent to different prisons to curb their influence

Indonesia plans to further separate terrorist inmates Abu Bakar Bashir and Aman Abdurrahman by moving them out of the Nusakambangan island prison, where they have already been locked up in isolation cells.

One of the two leading figures of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militant group may even be moved to a remote prison complex in West Kalimantan, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said yesterday.

He added that the government decided to move the clerics away from Nusakambangan to curb their influence on other inmates as well as their followers outside of prison.

"When we visited Nusakambangan in February, Menkopolhukam (and I) agreed that we should not put too many terrorists in one place," he told The Straits Times after a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace.

Menkopolhukam is the Indonesian designation of Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, who oversees the Indonesian state penitentiary system together with Mr Yasonna.

Responding to questions on when and where Aman and Bashir will be relocated, Mr Yasonna would only say that the government is still deciding whether to use a prison in Bengkayang regency in West Kalimantan for some high-profile terrorists.

"Some of them will be moved... but we will discuss further with BNPT and other parties," he added, referring to the Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme (BNPT), or national counter-terrorism agency.

When pressed to confirm whether both Aman and Bashir would be transferred to Bengkayang, Mr Yasonna said: "No, Bashir is not going there, he is too old. We will leave this to BNPT to decide who are fit to be moved there."

Bashir, the 77-year-old spiritual leader of the now disbanded JI, and Aman, 44, were jailed in 2010 for setting up a JI militant training camp in Aceh.

Bashir is appealing against his conviction, while Aman could be released as early as December 2018.

They were placed in isolation cells after initial police investigations found that they may be involved in the Jan 14 terror attack in Jakarta which killed four bystanders.

The probe has now shifted its focus to Aman, after police discovered that the four militants who mounted the strike on the capital had visited him in prison at least three times before the attack.

Indonesian intelligence had also traced phone calls originating from Nusakambangan, a maximum-security prison complex, to Syria.

Aman is suspected to have made some of those calls to a person in Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group.

A source told The Straits Times previously that calls were uncovered by investigators examining 14 mobile phones found in a jail cell shared by Aman and JI operative Iwan Darmawan Muntho.

The phones were believed to have been smuggled into prison by visitors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesia to split up jailed terrorist leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe