Call for Indonesian charged with joining ISIS to be jailed

Call for Indonesian charged with joining ISIS to be jailed
Afief Abdul Madjid being escorted to the court room for his hearing. The 63-year-old radical cleric is the first Indonesian to have stood trial for joining ISIS. He was arrested in August last year in Bekasi, West Java.

Indonesian state prosecutors have demanded that the Central Jakarta court slap Afief Abdul Madjid with an eight-year jail term for creating fear by taking part in military training given by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and spreading the militant group's violent ideology back home.

The 63-year-old radical cleric has also been accused of donating 25 million rupiah (S$2,500) to a terrorist paramilitary training camp in Aceh.

He donated the money through Luthfi Haidaroh alias Ubaid, an assistant to Abu Bakar Bashir, the jailed spiritual leader of South-east Asia's terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Afief is the first Indonesian to have stood trial for joining ISIS. He was arrested in August last year in Bekasi, West Java and his trial began in mid-February this year.

He was indicted under the 2003 anti-terrorism law that can punish anyone creating public fear, conspiring to do terror activity or funding a terror activity.

According to the prosecutors in their final submission yesterday, Afief had travelled to Ladzikiyah in Syria in December 2013 to join in ISIS military training there.

Upon his return in January last year, he visited Bashir at the Nusakamangan island prison to make a report about his month-long sojourn in Syria and then attended a July 2014 forum in Solo to spread ISIS ideology, according to prosecutor Juwita.

"What Afief did would cause public fear and widespread worries, considering ISIS is waging a war, killing people indiscriminately, civilians (and) children, attacking schools (and) hospitals," Ms Juwita said, adding that such acts breached the anti-terrorism law. She declined to give her last name to reporters.

Afief's lawyer Ahmad Michdan yesterday told The Straits Times that Afief could not be accused of funding a terror activity because he had told Ubaid to use 20 million rupiah of his donated money to help Palestine and the remaining 5 million rupiah to help the poor.

"If anyone were to be held accountable, it should be the one who received the money, not the one who donated the money," Mr Ahmad said after the hearing. He will make a formal response to the prosecutor's final argument at the next court hearing slated for June 22.

Under the Indonesian legal system, judges allow prosecutors to present their final argument based on all the hearings of the trial. After the prosecutors' final argument, the defendant's lawyer is given time to prepare a rebuttal. Judges will then pass a verdict.

"The prosecutors are so insistent on punishing me. They are forcing the case. I would like to say a prayer and convey a message to the prosecutor now," Afief angrily told the court room after Ms Juwita had finished making her final argument.

President judge Mas'ud rejected his request, telling him he could include his prayer and message in the rebuttal that his lawyer would prepare.

Afief answered: "I would also like to make a condemnation to the prosecutor. Can a rebuttal accommodate that?"

The judge replied: "Include that in your rebuttal as well."

Commenting on Afief's request, Mr Adhe Bhakti, a researcher at the Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Study, told The Straits Times: "That was an attempt to intimidate and to apply pressure on the prosecutor. The judge made a good call by not allowing it to happen."


This article was first published on June 09, 2015.
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