This file photo taken on December 16, 2020, shows police escorting Zulkarnaen, a senior leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), who had been on the run for his alleged role in the 2002 Bali bombings, upon arrival at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang.
FAJRIN RAHARJO / AFP
An Indonesian court sentenced an Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for his role in the 2002 bombings that killed more than 200 people on the resort island of Bali.
The blasts, which came just over a year after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, ripped through two bars packed with foreign tourists, and remain the deadliest militant assault in Indonesia’s history.
Zulkarnaen, a high-ranking member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group, was arrested in December 2020 after spending nearly 18 years at large. He was on trial for the Bali bombings, as well as several other attacks carried out by the special unit under his command.
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He “is guilty of committing terrorism and is sentenced to 15 years behind bars”, said the presiding judge at East Jakarta District Court.
Indonesian prosecutors had said Zulkarnaen set up the special JI cell and described him as a “key asset” for the group because of his experience as a trainer at militant camps in Afghanistan and the Philippines.
During the trial, Zulkarnaen denied involvement in the Bali bombings but admitted that they were carried out by his team.
He told the court that JI operatives did not tell him about the attack in advance and that he was not involved in specific planning.
But the judges were not convinced.
“The fact that he was the head of the team and agreed on a plan in Bali… it could be considered agreeing to the plan,” the presiding judge said.