Indonesian court sentences terror mastermind to death

Aman Abdurrahman found guilty of plotting deadly 2016 Jakarta attacks among others, church criticizes death sentence
Indonesian court sentences terror mastermind to death

Indonesian anti-terror police officers escort Aman Abdurrahman, center, who masterminded a 2016 gun and suicide attack in the capital Jakarta that left four attackers and four civilians dead, after sentencing at a court in Jakarta on June 22. The Muslim cleric has been sentenced to death. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

An Indonesian court has sentenced to death a terrorist kingpin for masterminding a series of deadly attacks across the predominately Muslim country.

Aman Abdurrahman, a Muslim cleric, was the founder of a local terror group called Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.

He was charged and convicted of masterminding a series of attacks in Indonesia, including a bomb attack and shootout in Jakarta in January 2016 that killed eight people and an attack against the Batak Society Christian Church of Oikumene in Samarinda, East Kalimantan in November 2017 that killed four people.

He was also accused — but not charged — of masterminding the suicide bombings that rocked three churches in East Java last month that killed 18 people.  

Although Abdurrahman has been in jail since 2010, authorities say the attacks were planned from within his cell.

"Aman Abdurrahman … is proven guilty of carrying out acts of terrorism … and deserves the death penalty," head judge Akhmad Jaini said while reading out the sentence on June 22 at the South Jakarta District Court.

"There is nothing that can mitigate his punishment," he added.

Police also believed Abdurahman's group was behind a 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, and also responsible for a series of deadly attacks on police officers.

However, a senior official at the Indonesian Bishops Conference, although welcoming the fact that justice was being served, criticized the sentence saying a life term would be more appropriate.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan of the Indonesian bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People said the death penalty was unacceptable since the punishment was inhumane.

"This will not cut the chain of terrorism and radicalism. Instead, they [Islamists] will become more militant."

The death sentence does not give room for people like Abdurrahman to repent and change their life, he said.

To overcome terrorism the government must both give justice and overcome poverty because terrorism is caused by poverty and injustice, he added.  

However, Denny Mahieu, a policeman injured in the January 2016 Jakarta attack said Abdurrahman deserved death.

He masterminded attacks that ended and destroyed the lives of many people, he said.    

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Faisal Sartono, 36, a Muslim who spoke to outside the court, said the judges really had no alternative but to hand down the death sentence death to Abdurrahman.

"He is a very dangerous man and many people, including Muslims fell victim [to his schemes]," he said.

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