Tue, 08 Mar 2005

From: Jawawa

Ba'asyir's guilt is proved

The sentence handed down to Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is much lighter than the eight years sought by prosecutors...However, he was deemed to have encouraged them to launch the strike and had engaged in a 'sinister conspiracy'.

The judgment will not satisfy those who were hoping that the sentence would send a clear message to would-be attackers on Indonesia's implacable opposition to terrorism. However, an important point was made by the court acknowledging that Ba'asyir led the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network.

Thoughtful observers never had such illusions, but these fantasies might have had some lure for ordinary Indonesians caught in the political cross-fire between extremists and moderates. Now, it is clear that JI exists, that it is engaged in terrorism, and that Ba'asyir is its leader. The image of a frail religious teacher hounded by the state is a fantasy that the court's judgment has destroyed.

It is natural for other countries with a stake in Indonesia's stability to take an interest in how events unfold there. Indonesians should not see this interest as unwarranted intervention in their domestic affairs. The primary beneficiaries of security will be Indonesians themselves.

-- The Straits Times, Singapore