Abu Bakar Bashir

Abu Bakar Bashir

Spiritual leader of the Jemaah al Islamiyah group.
Date of Birth: 12.08.1938
Country: Indonesia

  1. Biography of Abu Bakar Bashir
  2. Education and Activism
  3. Radicalization and Return to Indonesia
  4. Further Arrests and Controversies

Biography of Abu Bakar Bashir

Abu Bakar Bashir, also known as Abubakar Ba'asyir, Abdus Somad, and Ustad Abu, is a spiritual leader of Muslims in Indonesia and the leader of the Indonesian Mujahideen Council. He was born on August 17, 1938, in Jombang, East Java, to a family of Javanese and Yemeni descent.

Abu Bakar Bashir

Education and Activism

Bashir attended the Gontor boarding school in Ponorogo until 1959, and then enrolled in Al-Irsyad University in Solo, which he graduated from in 1963. During his studies, he was an activist of the Islamic Student Association in Solo and later became the secretary of the Al-Irsyad Youth Organization. In 1961, he became the president of the Indonesian Islamic Youth Movement.

Abu Bakar Bashir

In 1972, Bashir and his friend Abdullah Sungkar founded the Al-Mukmin boarding school near Solo. The school focused on religious discussions after short daily prayers. During the regime of President Suharto, Bashir and Sungkar were arrested for their support of Sharia law and denial of the Indonesian national ideology, Pancasila. Bashir appealed, but was imprisoned from 1978 to 1982 without trial or investigation. After his release, he faced further charges of anti-state activities and involvement in the bombing of the Borobudur Buddhist temple on September 21, 1985. Bashir managed to escape to Malaysia.

Radicalization and Return to Indonesia

While in exile, Bashir promoted his religious teachings in Malaysia and Singapore. The U.S. intelligence believes that during this period, Bashir organized the radical Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiyah. After the fall of Suharto's regime, Bashir returned to Indonesia in 1999 and became a prominent spiritual leader. He resumed his calls for the establishment of Sharia law in the country.

On April 14, 2003, the Indonesian government accused Bashir of treason, immigration law violations, and document forgery. He was also charged with involvement in the bombings of Christian churches during Christmas in 2000. Bashir was found guilty of the immigration charges and sentenced to three years in prison. Due to good behavior, he was released after 20 months.

Further Arrests and Controversies

On October 14, 2004, Bashir was arrested again and charged with involvement in the bombing of the Marriott hotel in Jakarta on August 5, 2003, which resulted in the death of 14 people. He was also accused of involvement in the Bali bombings in 2002, which claimed the lives of 202 people. In March 2005, he was acquitted of the first charge, but found guilty as one of the organizers of the Bali attacks and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

On August 17, 2005, Bashir's sentence was reduced by four and a half months due to traditional presidential pardons on Indonesia's Independence Day. He was released on June 14, 2006. After his release, Bashir announced a new campaign to introduce Islamic law in Indonesia. He publicly criticized the United Nations for including him on the list of international terrorists.

In October 2008, as the government prepared to execute three terrorists involved in the Bali bombings, Bashir announced his plans to establish a new Islamic group called Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid. He once again claimed that the bombings were carried out under the control of the CIA, and that the attacks were a result of a conspiracy by the intelligence agencies of the United States, Australia, and Israel.