Key player in Jakarta attack gets remission from jail term, but detained again by anti-terror cops

Radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman was given special remission from his 10-year jail sentence, as part of Indonesia's 72nd Independence Day celebrations.
Radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman was given special remission from his 10-year jail sentence, as part of Indonesia's 72nd Independence Day celebrations.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - The radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman, who allegedly ordered his followers to mount the Jan 14 suicide attack in Jakarta last year, was given special remission from his 10-year jail sentence, as part of Indonesia's 72nd Independence Day celebrations on Thursday.

But the leader of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) militant group was picked up after his release from Nusakambangan prison last Sunday by Indonesia's counter-terrorism police, Densus 88, Law and Human Rights Ministry official Ibnu Chuldun told Tempo news on Thursday (Aug 17).

"Aman received remission, or a reduction of five months... but he was taken by Densus 88 on Sunday, before his release letter was handed over," added Mr Ibnu.

More than 92,800 prisoners were given remission of various lengths and released on Thursday as Indonesia marked 72 years of independence from Dutch rule. Aman was among 35 inmates jailed for terrorism-related offences to be released.

The Straits Times understands that the militant leader, who was also a key player in the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terrorist network, is being held for questioning at a Densus 88 camp in Kelapa Dua, Tangerang regency, which is about an hour's drive from Jakarta.

Aman had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while he was in jail.

Apart from the Jan 14 attack in the capital,he is also linked to several other terrorists attacks in Indonesia, including the twin suicide bombings in East Jakarta on May 23, which killed three policemen.

He was jailed in 2010 for funding a JI paramilitary training camp in Aceh and was expected to be released sometime in December, although analysts had said he would be detained further for investigations into the other terror incidents he is said have had a hand in from behind bars.

An offshoot of the JI group that was behind the 2002 Bali bombings, the JAD is known for mounting deadly attacks, especially on the Indonesian police.

In January, the JAD and Aman were placed on a United States counter-terrorism watchlist because of their ties to ISIS.

National police chief Tito Karnavian had said previously that Aman will be charged for the Jan 14 attack, but investigators will need to work fast to compile a case against him, or he may walk free in a matter of days.

This is because the police are only allowed to hold a terrorist suspect for a week due to Indonesia's weak anti-terror laws.

Parliament has been deliberating proposed legislative changes to beef up the country's anti-terrorism Bill, first introduced in 2003 after the Bali attacks, for months.

Among the proposed revisions are laws to allow the police to hold suspects involved in terror attack plots for up to six months, instead of a week, as well as making it an offence for citizens to join foreign militant groups such as ISIS in the Middle East, or the Maute group, currently battling troops in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

tkchan@sph.com.sg