News Analysis

Baffling decision to release radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir

Radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, 80, who has been serving his 15-year prison term since 2011, will be freed next week on humanitarian grounds.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - The radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has long refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Indonesian government, and was renowned for his scathing criticisms of world Muslim leaders.

Yet, the ideological godfather of the disbanded Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the terrorist group behind the 2002 Bali bombings, as well as a string of other atrocities and terror plots across South-east Asia at the turn of the millennium, will in days owe his freedom to one such leader.

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