Indonesian police stoned as cleric is taken for questioninggreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
By Lely T. Djuhari, AP 28 October 2002
Hundreds of supporters of a radical Muslim cleric threw stones at police today as he was taken from a hospital for questioning in Indonesia over his alleged links to a terrorist network blamed for the Bali bombings.
Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been hospitalized for the last two weeks with respiratory problems, was escorted in a wheelchair to a waiting police motorcade. Angry protesters threw stones at the vehicles as they drove away to a nearby airport for the trip to Jakarta.
About 300 armed officers took up positions around the hospital in Bashir's hometown of Solo, about 250 miles from Jakarta.
One policeman was slightly injured, but the violence was contained quickly.
Bashir was later taken to a police hospital in the Jakarta's eastern suburbs.
"The police promised that Bashir's family could go with him to Jakarta, but then just took him away," his brother Umar Baradja said in Solo. "The police are traitors."
Baradja said police forced their way into Bashir's hospital room — breaking down the door with their rifle butts. He said they dragged Bashir from his bed, placed him in a wheelchair and pushed him past a crowd of angry students.
Bashir was formally arrested on 18 October after he had checked into the Muhammadiyah Hospital. He is charged with ordering a string of church bombings in 2000 that killed 19 people and plotting the assassination of President Megawati Sukarnoputri. However, he is not a suspect in the 12 October nightclub bombings in Bali that killed nearly 200 people.
Indonesia has been under intense international pressure since then to crack down on Islamic militants. Bashir, who denies any links to terrorists, claims he is being made a scapegoat for their actions.
Police want to question Bashir about Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional Islamic group believed to be seeking a Muslim super-state in Southeast Asia and allied to the al-Qa'ida terror network.
The group is suspected of involvement in the Bali attacks.
Radical Muslim leaders and students as young as 12 — many from Bashir's religious boarding school in Solo — had gathered outside the hospital in Solo.
Members of the crowd pumped their fists as they chanted, "We are ready to die." They banners that read, "We are not terrorists" and "Our teacher will not flee."
In Jakarta, Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sought to defuse tensions by saying Bashir had been detained in order to be "investigated, not convicted."
"A court will determine whether he is guilty or not," he said. "We do not want to punish the innocent while the real terrorists remain free looking for new opportunities."
Police had been at the hospital since midnight preparing to take Bashir into custody.
Bashir's arrest occurred after Indonesian investigators returned from questioning Omar al-Faruq, an al-Qa'ida operative whom they quietly took into custody earlier this year, then turned over to the United States.
Al-Faruq claims to have known Bashir well and implicated him in the church bombings and the assassination plot.
-- Anonymous, October 28, 2002