2 leaders of SE Asian terror network jailed for 15 years

Sentencing deals yet another blow to the group blamed for a string of deadly bombings in Indonesia.

Indonesian terrorists  (photo credit: AP)
Indonesian terrorists
(photo credit: AP)
Two leaders of the feared Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah have been sentenced to 15 years in jail, dealing yet another blow to the group blamed for a string of deadly bombings in Indonesia. Abu Dujana, the group's military commander, and Zarkasih, who acted briefly as its caretaker leader, were found guilty Monday of conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks, harboring fugitives and stockpiling illegal arms. The rulings were handed down in separate, lengthy trials at the South Jakarta District Court. Jemaah Islamiyah and its allies are accused of carrying out the 2002 bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, a 2003 attack on the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, a 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and 2005 triple suicide bombings on restaurants in Bali. Many of the more than 240 killed in the attacks were foreign tourists. Neither Dujana nor Zarkasih - both of whom faced possible death sentences - were charged in connection with those blasts. Dujana was convicted for recent attacks on Christians on the eastern island of Sulawesi, which was plagued by religious violence from 1999 to 2001. He has condemned al-Qaida-style bombings, arguing they are counterproductive to Jemaah Islamiyah's reported aim of establishing Islamic law across the region. Presiding Judge Wahjono, who like many Indonesians uses one name, sentenced Dujana to 15 years in prison, saying his recent public condemnations of terrorism had been taken into account. He also said he was convinced Dujana could play a role in helping reform other jailed terrorists. Dujana, 37, said he was thinking about an appeal. Judge Eddy Risdianto said Zarkasih, 45, was given a shorter sentence because he only served as a two-month caretaker leader of Jemaah Islamiyah in 2005, not the emir as had been alleged. The judge also cited his good behavior in prison. The two judges also labeled Jemaah Islamiyah a terrorist group, a move that could pave the way for the government to ban it - something Jakarta has previously said would be difficult because it was not a "formal organization." Even without a ban on the network, the government's crackdown has met with huge success, resulting in hundreds of arrests in recent years, thanks partly to forensic and technical help from foreign governments. Jemaah Islamiyah was formed in the early 1990s as an offshoot of another militant network stretching back decades. Its core leadership fought or trained in Afghanistan and some came under the influence of al-Qaida.