Indonesian Catholics want mercy for terrorist kingpin

Prosecutors have demanded that Aman Abdurahman die for planning deadly bombings
Indonesian Catholics want mercy for terrorist kingpin

Armed police escort Aman Abdurahman, alleged leader of the Islamic State group-linked militant outfit Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, to a court hearing for the prosecutors' sentence recommendation, in Jakarta on May 18. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

Leading Catholics in terrorism-plagued Indonesia have criticized prosecutors who demanded the death sentence for the alleged mastermind behind a deadly spate of suicide bombings and attacks against police that have left many dead.

From a moral perspective and the view of the church, the death penalty is wrong no matter what the crime is, said Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, an adviser to a presidential unit that promotes communal tolerance and understanding.

"The death penalty does not provide an effective deterrent against perpetrators of these sort of crimes," he said.

He was responding to calls on May 18 from prosecutors demanding that judges impose the death sentence on Aman Abdurahman, alleged leader of an Islamic State-linked terror group, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), who is standing trial on terrorism charges in a Jakarta court.

Abdurahman, 46, is standing trial for allegedly masterminding a series of attacks that included a January 2016 bombing in Jakarta that killed eight people and an attack in November 2017 against the Batak Society Christian Church of Oikumene in Samarinda, East Kalimantan that killed four people.

The demand that he be put to death came days after at least 30 people died in a string of suicide bombings targeting churches and a police station in Indonesia's second city Surabaya.

The perpetrators were allegedly members of his group. Police also believe Abdurahman's group was behind the riot at a police detention center on the outskirts of Jakarta on May 9 which resulted in the death of five guards and a detainee.

However, like Father Susetyo, Franciscan Father Peter Aman, a moral theologian, said from a Christian moral perspective, capital punishment should be rejected, and not used as an act of revenge.

"Terrorists who are willing to die are victims of ideological propaganda, clothed in religious motivation," he said, adding that victims of political indoctrination with religious bandages should be helped, not killed.

Abdurahman's lawyer, Asludin Hatjani, said the more recent attacks should not be allowed to sway the judges in the current trial.

"He was in prison when other attacks took place," he said.

Judges are expected to reach a verdict next week.

Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert, said the prosecutors had taken a bold step by taking a tough stance in this case on terrorism.

"Terrorism is extraordinary crime and its punishment must be extraordinary," he told

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