Extremist Islamic cleric released from prison

June 14, 2006 04:40

Authorities released militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir on Wednesday, more than two years after he was imprisoned for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings. The 68-year-old cleric, an alleged key leader of the al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, had served 26 months for giving his blessing to the nightclub bombings, which killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists. The release raised concerns among Indonesian officials that he could energize the country's small, Islamic radical fringe. Bashir, who has maintained his innocence, plans to return to the Islamic boarding school that he founded and retake his position at the head of his legal hardline Islamic organization, the Council of Mujahedeen for Islamic Law Enforcement.

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