Jakarta: An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced seven men for conspiring with the Islamic State group, the first time the country has sent anyone to prison for IS links, as radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir appealed his conviction.
A three-judge panel at the West Jakarta District Court found four men guilty of violating Indonesia's anti-terrorism law by joining Islamic State jihadists and attending the group's military-style training. Ahmad Junaedi, Ridwan Sungkar, Helmi Muhammad Alamudi and Abdul Hakim Munabari were sentenced to between three and four years imprisonment.
Their recruiters, Aprimul Henry and Koswara Ibnu Abdullah, were sentenced to three and four years in jail for helping them go to Syria.
The seventh, Tuah Febriwansyah, who is also known as Muhammad Fachry, received a five-year sentence for actively spreading IS propaganda through his own radical website and posting violent videos of terrorism activities on the Internet, including one showing militants in Syria giving military-style training to Indonesian children.
At a hearing in another court Tuesday, Bashir filed an appeal to overturn his 2011 conviction for violating the anti-terrorism law by setting up a militant camp in Aceh province. The 77-year-old founder of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network had received a 15-year sentence, but it was later cut to nine years.
Bashir is considered the spiritual leader of al Qaida-linked militants blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. He has expressed his support to the Islamic State and has pledged allegiance to IS.
Bashir's lawyers and state prosecutors signed a conclusion of his appeal before judges in the Cilacap District Court, the closest court to the high-security prison island of Nusa Kambangan where he is serving his sentence. The appeal will be sent to the Supreme Court this week for the final ruling.
"I hope judges understand that my deed of helping training camp in Aceh was my religious obligation," Bashir told the court. "I'm guilty according to the government law, but what I did is correct according to Islam."
Indonesia's government has outlawed the Islamic State group and spoken forcefully against it, as have mainstream religious group in the world's largest Muslim nation. One fear is that militants who travel abroad will return home and conduct terrorist acts in Indonesia.
Indonesian authorities estimate over 600 Indonesians have joined IS in Syria or Iraq.