Defendants Use Faith to Justify Bashir ‘Donations’

By webadmin on 11:54 am Mar 09, 2011
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Heru Andriyanto

Two men accused of channeling funds to firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to set up a paramilitary camp in Aceh firmly maintained their innocence in two separate hearings at the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

Defendant Abdul Haris, aka Haris Amir Falah, the leader of the Jakarta branch of Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, an Islamic organization founded by Bashir, and Dr. Syarif Usman, who joined JAT last year, said they had simply made donations to a good cause.

Abdul told the court that he found himself faced with a dilemma. “If I move forward and follow the orders of Allah, I will be charged under the Anti-Terror Law. But if I turn back on His orders, then I have to face His wrath.”

He is facing nine years in jail for allegedly collecting money from donors and channeling it to Bashir.

“When we have to choose between the regulations and laws of Allah, and those that are man-made, any good Muslim will choose the laws as written out by Allah,” he said.

At a separate hearing, Syarif, whom prosecutors have accused of providing Rp 200 million ($22,740) for the Aceh camp, also presented his defense, insisting that his donation was based on Shariah law, and therefore, criminal charges should not be laid upon him.

“Who owns the land of Indonesia? We acknowledge that Allah has created the sky, the earth and all its contents,” said Syarif, who is also facing a nine-year sentence.

“As for this trial, it can deliver any verdict it wants, because my donation is meant to seek rewards from Allah.”

In their handwritten defense, containing mainly verses from the Koran, neither of the men mentioned Bashir.

Asludin Hatjani, a lawyer representing both defendants, said the terrorism charges were groundless because the prosecution failed to prove that the money had been channeled to the Aceh camp, which was raided by police in February last year.

In the indictment prepared by prosecutors, the two are accused of collecting the funds after Bashir allegedly told them: “We are launching a program of major jihadi activities. If you have extra money, you can donate to us and the biggest returns will come from God.”

The panel of judges on the case have said they will deliver their verdict on Friday.

A third suspect, Hariadi Usman, is also on trial in South Jakarta on similar charges .