Abu Bakar Bashir
Here is an example of why Muslims and non-Muslims so often talk past each other: Abu Bakar Bashir, the Indonesian Muslim leader who is or has been the head of the radical Muslim group Jemaah Islamiyah (although he denies it) has said that “the Bali bombers and an Indonesian bomb-maker killed by the Philippine military in October were not ‘terrorists’ but God’s fighters.” This from AFP, with thanks to Nicolei.
A man with this perspective could easily say that Islam condemns terrorism. But he would believe that “terrorism” is a label used by the West to discredit jihad warriors such as the heroic Osama bin Laden. And indeed, this is just the view of Abu Bakar Bashir:
“Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, who recently became a martyr, is a jihad [holy war] fighter, not a terrorist,” Bashir told a gathering of prisoners at Salemba prison in Central Jakarta that journalists and his supporters were allowed to attend.
Convicted Bali bombers “Imam Samudra, Mukhlas, Amrozi and his friends are not terrorists either, they are fighters of the army of God,” Bashir said, who is serving time for immigration offences. Bashir, 65, also praised Osama bin Laden as a Muslim fighter. He has praised bin Laden, head of the Al Qaeda terror network, in the past but his public accolade for Bali bombers was the first.
A court in Bali has sentenced Samudra, Amrozi and Amrozi’s brother Mukhlas to death for their roles in the Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, mostly Westerners, on October 12, 2002. Self-confessed bomb-maker Al-Ghozi, a senior operative of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) extremist network that is linked to al-Qaeda, was killed by Philippine troops in October after escaping from a Manila jail three months earlier. The JI network is blamed for a string of bloody attacks including church bombings which killed 19 people on Christmas Eve 2000, the Bali blasts on October 12, 2002, which killed 202 people and the August Jakarta Marriott hotel blast that claimed 12 lives.
But as far as Bashir is concerned, it’s all — that’s right — America’s fault.
Bashir said Indonesian Muslims had been targets of slander from the United States, which he warned the authorities not to support. “I warn police if they remain supportive of the US, they can laugh now but will later cry for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Bashir even blames his jail time on the U.S.:
Earlier in the day Bashir’s lawyers filed a petition to the Supreme Court against an appeal court ruling that he must serve three years in jail. In September he was convicted of treason through taking part in a JI plot to overthrow the government. But the court said there was no proof that he headed the JI terror network, as prosecutors alleged. The appeal court this month cleared Bashir of treason. It upheld his conviction for immigration offences and forging documents but cut his jail term from four years to three. His lawyers want him cleared of all charges. Bashir has denied any links to terrorism and said he was framed by Washington because he campaigns for Islamic sharia law.