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    Indonesia Islamist Uses Trial to Blast U.S. Influence


    by NTDTelevision

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    The trial of Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir continues today in Jakarta. He's facing a life sentence for allegedly funding a terrorist training camp in the country's south.

    Islamist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir made his final defense against charges of funding a militant group on Wednesday. From the South Jakarta court, he denounced the United States for trying to stop Islamic preaching in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

    Bashir's speech could inflame hardcore Islamists who have already vowed reprisal attacks following the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

    Prosecutors say Bashir raised at least $41,000 from supporters and funneled some to a militant training camp in a remote mountainous part of Aceh.

    [Abu Bakar Bashir, Islamist Cleric, Defendant]:
    "The prosecutor's accusation that I was behind Aceh and was its biggest financier is an accusation and slander."

    Police say militants at the Aceh camp were hatching several plots including an attack on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and hoped to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state.

    Aceh is a province on the northern tip of Sumatra Island that observes sharia law.

    [Abu Bakar Bashir, Islamist Cleric, Defendant]:
    "The training camp in Aceh is in accordance with Islamic sharia. I could not join them because physically I was not capable."

    One supporter says the accusations against Bashir are baseless.

    [Son Hadi, Bashir Supporter]:
    "The accusation that Jema'ah Ansharut Tauhid or JAT funds terrorism activity is baseless. The truth is, JAT is an organization that upholds the Islamic sharia."

    Bashir's lawyer declared the trial illegitimate.

    [Achmad Michdan, Bashir's Lawyer]:
    "In our opinion, this trial process is illegal, illegitimate, with very little physical evidence. The only witnesses are from teleconference."