A foremost exponent of the tiny minority of extremists is appealing to the vast majority of moderate, peaceful Muslims for support. From Straits Times, with thanks to Nicolei:
JAKARTA – Lawyers for jailed cleric Abu Bakar Bashir plan to lobby Indonesia’s largest Islamic groups to support a battle against fresh terror charges, attorneys said yesterday.
Bashir’s supporters insist police are acting against him because of the US.
Bashir’s attorney will meet the Indonesian Ulamas Council – the country’s most influential Islamic body – today, said lawyer Wirawan Adnan.
Meetings with leaders of the large Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah Islamic organisations will take place next week, he added.
‘We hope these people will support our efforts,’ he said.
The United States has reiterated its allegations that Bashir is a terror leader.
The militant cleric’s supporters maintain that police are acting against him because of US pressure.
Last week, police officially named Bashir a terror suspect and said he was likely to be charged over alleged links with the Jemaah Islamiah terror group and 2002 nightclub bombings on Bali.
Bashir, 65, is now in jail for minor immigration offences after the Supreme Court cleared him of earlier treason and terror charges. He is due to be freed on April 30, but the fresh accusations against him make this unlikely.
‘We have long believed there is extensive evidence of Abu Bakar Bashir’s leadership role and personal involvement in terror activities,’ said a US Embassy spokesman.
Bashir’s lawyers said they hoped to generate public support and sympathy for their client, forcing the government to drop any new charges against him for fear of being seen as anti-Muslim.
Mr Adnan said the US wanted Bashir imprisoned because of his vocal support for Islamic causes worldwide.
The developments come at a politically sensitive time in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, as candidates seek Muslim support ahead of presidential polls on July 5.
Asked about the evidence US officials said existed to back its claims, Mr Adnan pointed to accusations made about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.
‘They lied once, they are lying again,’ he said.
Bashir has denied involvement in terror activities, but has sharply criticised US policies in the Muslim world.
Yesterday, he endorsed the bombing of US interests in Iraq and called the Bali bombers misguided but praiseworthy fighters. He also indicated that attacking the US government on American soil was acceptable.
‘If you want to oppose American interests with a bomb in Iraq, it can be done, in Afghanistan, it can be done, because they are conflict areas. Or, let’s say, in America itself,’ Bashir told reporters at a Jakarta jail.