Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir on Thursday denied leading an Al-Qaeda-style group that was plotting attacks and assassinations in Indonesia, as his trial resumed amid tight security. But he said that Muslims carrying out weapons training did so as a divinely-ordered “act of worship” so as to “defend Islam”.
The preacher, who is revered by Islamists around the region, is accused of leading a militant group that was discovered last year training recruits in Aceh province to wage jihad or holy war.
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Police jostled with about 200 of the 72-year-old’s supporters who tried to enter the court as he arrived under tight guard amid shouts of “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).
Abu Bakar Bashir, had previously served 26 months for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.