Trial of 2016 Jakarta terror attack ideologue hears how his sermons, blog radicalised others

Indonesian Zainal Anshori (left) enters a court room prior to his trial in Jakarta on Feb 12, 2018.
Indonesian Zainal Anshori (left) enters a court room prior to his trial in Jakarta on Feb 12, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - A militant who headed a terror organisation founded by influential radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman told a court on Friday (March 9) that he had read a book written by the cleric, looked up to him and considered him a religious teacher.

Zainal Anshori, 43, former head of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was testifying in the trial of Aman, who is facing the death penalty for inciting others to commit various terror acts in Indonesia.

JAD is an underground organisation which has been responsible for several terror incidents in Indonesia, including an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left four bystanders dead and the Samarinda church attack in Kalimantan that killed a toddler in the same year.

The book written by Aman entitled "Seri Materi Tauhid", which espouses an extremist interpretation of Islam, is a reference book for members of JAD, said Zainal, who admitted that Aman had appointed him as the organisation's head.

"Aman is not in the organisation structure of JAD but he is often consulted. He is above me," Zainal said.

He claimed Aman never told his followers to launch a terror attack.

Aman's book, among other things, denounces democracy as "syirik", or idolatry, and argues that Muslims have a duty to free themselves from such a system.

The court on Thursday also heard from two other witnesses whom prosecutors grilled to build a stronger case against the radical cleric.

Former terrorist bombmaker turned preacher, Kiki Muhammad Iqbal, 38, admitted that he attended sermons given by Aman, and supported his teachings. Kiki also said that Aman never incited others to commit terror acts.

Kiki has been accused of delivering a sermon in Bandung on May 19, 2017, that allegedly incited Ahmad Sukri and Ikhwan Nur Salam, the two men who were killed while mounting a suicide attack near a bus station in Jakarta on May 24, 2017. The attack left three police officers dead.

The third witness was Dodi Suridi, 23, who helped make the bomb used in the Jan 14, 2016 twin attacks on a police post and a Starbucks outlet in Jakarta that killed four innocent bystanders.

Dodi admitted that he had an enormous hatred for the Indonesian government because it had curbed people from leaving the country for Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Dodi also told he court he considered ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be his president.

He also disclosed that his hatred against the government grew stronger after reading a blog written by Aman.

Dodi had earlier told police investigators that the blog discussed how apostates and those who insulted God had to be killed.

Aman's trial was adjourned until Tuesday (March 13).