Radical Indonesian Islamist group Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) on Monday hailed assassinated Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a “martyr” who championed Islam against America.
“If it’s true Osama bin Laden is dead, then he died a martyr. He fought for Islam and he fought for the lands colonized by America,” JAT spokesman Son Hadi told AFP.
“Al Qaeda didn’t die with him. Jihad will not be dampened just because he’s dead because jihad is a command of the religion, not of individuals,” he added.
JAT was founded in 2008 by firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who is standing trial for leading and financing a militant group that was discovered training recruits in Aceh province last year.
The hardline Muslim cleric on Monday said the killing of Osama bin Laden would create disaster as many would retaliate, because Osama was a great cleric and mujahidin
“Obama said that America was not hostile against Islam, but this a big lie,” Bashir said, as quoted by his personal aide, Hasyim Abdullah.
Bashir, together with Abdullah Sungkar, reportedly met with Osama in Afghanistan in 1980.
The 72-year-old Bashir has long been known as the spiritual leader of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network blamed for multiple attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people, mainly Western tourists.
Bashir denies any involvement in terrorism and claims he is being framed by the United States and its allies including Australia and “the Jews”.
The Islamic teacher, whose former students read like a who’s-who of Indonesian extremism, served almost 26 months behind bars for the Bali bombings but his conviction was overturned after his release in 2006.
Police say JAT was a front for a new campaign of terrorism in Indonesia.