Indonesia’s infamous firebrand cleric and convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has been transferred to the high-security prison island of Nusa Kambangan, for a reason not yet disclosed by police.
Bashir’s assistant Hasyim Abdullah, who visited the 74-year-old every day at the National Police headquarters’ detention center in Jakarta to take care of his needs, said the transfer was sudden.
“He was moved at 10:45 p.m. on Friday but only got told of it at 9 p.m. I had already gone home, so I returned [to the detention center] to take care of Ustad [Bashir’s] belongings after he called me using a cell phone owned by a member of the Densus 88 anti-terrorism unit,” Hasyim said on Saturday morning.
He said Bashir, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison last year, would be incarcerated at Batu Penitentiary on Nusa Kambangan, dubbed the “Alcatraz of Indonesia” due to its high security. Convicted murderers, terrorists, drug dealers and those found guilty in high-profile corruption cases are commonly shipped to the island, off the southern coast of the Central Java town of Cilacap.
Batu Penitentiary hosted the infamous Bali bomber trio — Amrozi, Imam Samudera and Mukhlas — who were executed in 2008 for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings.
Hasyim said the Muslim Lawyers Team (TPM), which often represents defendants charged with terrorism at trial, would consider Bashir’s sudden relocation a problem.
“The transfer was carried out without any letter; there was only a spoken notice. The Muslim Lawyers Team will question this,” he said.
“I still don’t know the reason for the transfer.”
Meanwhile, Indonesian news portal detik.com reported that Bashir arrived at Wijayapura Port in Cilacap at about 9 a.m. on Saturday, with a heavy security presence in tow.
An entourage of five vehicles carrying heavily armed members of the National Police’s anti-terror detachment, Densus 88, and a Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit escorted Bashir to the port, where they immediately boarded a boat for Nusa Kambangan.
The head of Batu Penitentiary, Hermawan Yunianto, said Bashir would be placed in a cell already inhabited by three aging inmates.
“This is so that doctors can continually monitor his health, because he’s already old,” Hermawan said.
He added that along with Bashir, Nusa Kambangan received five other inmates transferred from Jakarta on Saturday.
The transfer was carried out just a few days after Bashir slammed Indonesian law enforcers’ “lenient” action against members of the Papuan pro-independence group West Papua National Committee (KNPB), who allegedly planned a series of bombings in the restive province of West Papua last week.
Quoting Bashir, Hasyim said on Tuesday that Bashir was outraged at the “unfairness” of his treatment by authorities when compared with the handling of the KNPB members.
“If it was Muslims arrested plotting that kind of thing, they would be branded terrorists and charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law. But because they’re not Muslims, they aren’t called terrorists and they don’t face terrorism charges,” Bashir was quoted as saying.
BeritaSatu & JG