- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Jailed cleric refuses release for hostages
JAKARTA, Indonesia — A jailed Indonesian cleric refused to be freed in exchange for two hostages held in Iraq, claiming that kidnapping and holding fellow Muslims is not permitted in Islam.
Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who Washington says is a terror mastermind in Southeast Asia, has been in prison since 2002, accused of heading an al Qaeda-linked group. He was arrested three weeks after the Bali bombings killed 202 persons that year.
In Iraq, an Islamic militant group claiming to have kidnapped two Indonesian women in Iraq had demanded Bashir’s release in exchange for the hostages.
But yesterday, the slender, white-bearded preacher — an admirer of Osama bin Laden — castigated the captors as un-Islamic and said he would not be part of any exchange.
“I cannot justify this kidnapping. I demand that they be freed as Islam does not condone taking hostages of Muslim sisters and brothers,” Bashir said in response to questions by the Associated Press. “If the captors are Muslim, they truly do not understand Islam.”
Bashir’s voice was recorded and a copy of the recording was smuggled out of prison.
The kidnapping report could not be immediately confirmed.
Arab TV station Al Jazeera showed footage Thursday of 10 hostages seized by a militant group calling itself The Islamic Army in Iraq. The hostages included Indonesians Rosidah binti Anan and Rafikan binti Aming. It is unclear when the two Indonesian women were seized. Of the other hostages shown, two were Lebanese, and six Iraqi.
Earlier yesterday, Al Jazeera said it had received a written statement from the group demanding that Bashir be released. The Islamic Army in Iraq has also claimed responsibility for kidnapping two French journalists who disappeared with their Syrian driver on Aug. 20.
Bashir’s attorney, Muhammad Assegaf, also said the cleric rejected the kidnapping. Bashir wants to fight the charges against him in court and refuses to be released in such circumstances, Mr. Assegaf said.
“Even if he is released because of this, he will walk right back into prison,” he said.
Bashir has little active support in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but some fellow clerics and ordinary Indonesians are sympathetic to the aging cleric’s plight amid allegations that he is a victim of American pressure on Indonesia to crack down on terror.
U.S. Embassy officials could not be reached for comment.
Indonesian police have dropped plans to charge Bashir in the Bali bombings. Prosecutors say they now plan to charge him with heading Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terror network, and for the bombing last year of the Jakarta JW Marriott hotel, in which 12 persons were killed.
Bashir has repeatedly denied involvement in terrorism and being linked to Jemaah Islamiyah.
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- EDITORIAL: Senate rejects Adegbile for Justice post
- 'Blarney Blowout' near UMass results in 73 arrests; 4 officers injured
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Gates: Obama strategy won't stop Putin
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again