Newsdeck

Bali bombings

Indonesia jails militant from group blamed for Bali bombings

epa09519980 Relatives of victims of the 2002 Bali bombings mourn in front of the Bali Bombing Memorial on the 19th anniversary of the attack, in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, 12 October 2021. The terrorist bombing attacks in Kuta killed 202 people on 12 October 2002. EPA-EFE/MADE NAGI

JAKARTA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A prominent member of an Indonesian militant group blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings was jailed for 15 years on Wednesday for withholding information about jihadist networks and harbouring an extremist, his lawyer said. Aris Sumarsono, better known as Zulkarnaen, was a former military commander in Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a Southeast Asian jihadist network with ties to al Qaeda.

The 58-year-old had been on the run for almost two decades after being named a suspect in the Bali attacks. The judge, who could not be named for security reasons based on the country’s anti-terrorism law, announced the 15-year jail term after the prosecution had asked for a life sentence.

Zulkarnaen was found guilty of withholding information and sheltering an extremist figure, not of involvement in the Bali attacks, his lawyer Asludin Hatjani said, describing his client’s jail sentence as too long.

Asludin said he would consult with Zulkarnaen about whether to appeal.

JI was blamed for the 2002 bombings of two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia’s worst ever militant attacks, which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, as well as bombings in the capital Jakarta.

Police and prosecutors accused Zulkarnaen of playing a role in making the bombs used in the Bali attacks, and in the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.

During the trial Zulkarnaen said he was the leader of JI’s military wing, but denied any involvement in the nightclub bombings.

Analyst Stanislaus Riyanta warned that despite being sentenced to a jail term Zulkarnaen should be monitored even when behind bars.

“He can spread his radical ideology in prison.”

In the wake of the Bali attacks and with backing from Australia and the United States, Indonesia set up an elite anti-terrorist unit called Densus 88, which helped weaken JI and resulted in the arrest of hundreds of suspected militants.

While it remains unclear how potent the threat from JI remains, other groups such as the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) have increased in prominence and been blamed for new attacks in Indonesia, including the 2018 suicide bombings in Surabaya that killed around 30 people.

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Stanley Widianto.

(Additional reporting by Johan Purnomo; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Ed Davies)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.