Keeping an eye on terrorism overseas

Keeping an eye on terrorism overseas
Bilveer Singh, a Singaporean and security expert, is an expert on terrorism in Indonesia.

SINGAPORE- Bearing boxes of local delicacies from Yogyakarta, security expert Bilveer Singh walked into the sparsely furnished home of radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in Solo, Indonesia.

It was a difficult meeting to arrange as the cleric did not want any visitors from Singapore, considered by Islamic militants as anti-Islam because of its ties with the United States and its allies.

But when the two men met, their meeting lasted for more than three hours.

Bashir told his Singapore visitor: "The next time you want to see me, just call."

They met on three other occasions at Bashir's house. Dr Singh, 57, questioned him on his role in inciting terrorism and suicide bombings in the region.

Speaking softly, Bashir defended his violent ideology, while treating his guest to generous offerings of cake and fruit juice.

He argued that he only preached militant Islam but did not instigate or mastermind terror attacks.

He told his visitor: "God gives everyone a brain. What and how he uses it, is up to him."

Pointing to a knife that was being used to cut an apple for his granddaughter, Bashir purred: "There is a knife. I sharpen the knife. Whether you use it to cut an apple or somebody's throat, it is your decision. Not mine."

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