Daesh-linked militant in Indonesia gets 7 years in prison

Daesh-affiliated militant Zainal Anshori during his sentencing hearing at East Jakarta District Court in Jakarta on Monday, February 12. A court sentenced Anshori to seven years in prison for his involvement in smuggling guns from the southern Philippines. (AP)
Updated 12 February 2018
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Daesh-linked militant in Indonesia gets 7 years in prison

JAKARTA: A court sentenced the leader of an Daesh group-affiliated militant network in Indonesia to seven years in prison on Monday for involvement in smuggling guns from the southern Philippines.
Presiding Judge Siti Jamzanah said it was proven that Zainal Anshori “committed a criminal act of terrorism.” She said the 43-year-old, his brother Zainal Hasan, who on Monday was sentenced to five years prison, and another militant traveled to a town in northern Sulawesi closest to the Indonesian border with the southern Philippines to collect a cache of weapons including automatic rifles.
Court documents said Anshori also attempted to set up a jihadist training camp in eastern Indonesia.
Anshori was arrested in April, sparking a failed reprisal attack against police in East Java province which ended with six militants killed in a gunbattle.
The network Anshori led, Jamaah Anshorut Daulah, is believed responsible for a 2016 attack in Jakarta that killed eight people including the four attackers. The US last year designated it as a global terrorist organization.
Indonesia still faces a significant risk of terror attacks despite a sustained crackdown on militants following the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people. The crackdown reduced the Jemaah Islamiyah network behind the Bali bombings to remnants but a new generation of would-be jihadists has coalesced behind the Daesh banner. Though their capacity to launch large-scale attacks is limited, experts say it could be enhanced if Indonesians who fought with Daesh in Syria and Iraq return home.
Anshori, after a brief discussion with his lawyers, accepted the verdict and will not appeal, the lawyers said. He refused to comment to reporters.
Jamaah Anshorut Daulah is made up of about two dozen extremist groups and was conceived in prison by radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman, his cell mate Iwan Darmawan, also known as Rois, who is on death row for his role in a 2004 Australian Embassy car bombing in Jakarta, and four regular visitors including Anshori.
Anshori became leader in 2015 after two other founders joined Daesh in Syria.
Court documents said Anshori received $20,000 in cash to collect the rifles and pistols purchased by Mas’ud, a militant who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week.
Anshori told the court that he failed to collect the weapons after his two followers changed their mind and returned home to Lamongan, an area in Java known as the hometown of several of the Bali bombers.


Nearly 6,000 Filipino Muslims to perform Hajj this year

Updated 57 min 18 sec ago
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Nearly 6,000 Filipino Muslims to perform Hajj this year

  • Each year, two to three million people who are able to undertake the journey descend on Islam’s holiest city to deepen their faith and cleanse themselves of their sins.
  • This year, 5,800 Muslims from the Philippines will make the trip, according to Omar Mandia, chief administrative officer at the Office of the Hajj Attache, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

MANILA: On Sunday, Filipino Muslims will start their pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj — a pinnacle in every Muslim’s life.
Each year, two to three million people who are able to undertake the journey descend on Islam’s holiest city to deepen their faith and cleanse themselves of their sins.
This year, 5,800 Muslims from the Philippines will make the trip, according to Omar Mandia, chief administrative officer at the Office of the Hajj Attache, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Aside from the Filipino Muslims, some foreign diplomats will be among the delegates from the Philippines.
“There are diplomats who want to join us. They are requesting to be included. These are from the Libyan Embassy, UAE and Iran. They want to join us,” Mandia told Arab News.
“They can just arrange for their Hajj visa but they need to be accommodated in our housing and space in Mina and Arafat,” Mandia continued, as he explained that housing accommodation for pilgrims is done country-to-country, which means that the NCMF has to write a request to the Ministry of Hajj for additional slots to accommodate the diplomats.
In 2017, a total of 6,032 Filipino Muslims performed Hajj, but the number has fallen slightly this year.
“Last year, we had a bigger number of pilgrims from the Philippines, but we’ve reduced it... because of stringent visa requirements,” said Mandia.
An incident in 2016 when dozens of Indonesians were intercepted using Filipino Hajj passports en route to Makkah, prompted the authorities to introduce tight measures to ensure that no other nationalities join the Philippine contingent’s pilgrimage.
“That’s one reason why they’ve been very strict on securing the passports. They don’t want a repeat of that controversy. We are still bearing the consequence of that anomaly,” said Mandia. “We have assured them (Saudi authorities) that we have taken steps in order to prevent that from happening again,” he added.
Of the 5,800 Filipino Muslim pilgrims, the majority are from Cotabato and Lanao provinces, and include pilgrims from war-torn Marawi City.
Mandia, who will also be performing Hajj this year, added: “I’m from Marawi. Our house was destroyed during the siege. We are still not allowed to go back as it is a restricted site even today. They said there are still live bombs there you could step on and get killed.”
When he performs the pilgrimage he said that it would be “a sigh of relief after all those problematic days,” referring to the five-month battle in Marawi.
On average, a Filipino Muslim spends up to 200,000 pesos on Hajj. Some lawmakers sponsor Hajj for those who would not otherwise be able to afford to make the trip, especially those from Marawi City who suffered major devastation during the siege.
The first two batches of pilgrims are scheduled to leave on July 22 on a Saudi Airlines flight. The country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), also has direct flights to take pilgrims from the Philippines to Madinah.
“Last year they (PAL) were not able to get landing permit, so we had to land in Kuwait and an airline in Kuwait flew them to Madinah. Now they have been able to secure a landing permit so they will be transporting pilgrims directly from Philippines to Madinah,” said Mandia.