Indonesian Cleric Arrested in Terror Plot

He allegedly co-founded group behind Bali attack
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 9, 2010 6:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – Indonesia's anti-terrorism unit arrested a radical Islamic cleric today for alleged ties to an al-Qaeda-affiliated cell accused of plotting high-profile assassinations and Mumbai-style attacks targeting foreigners in Jakarta. Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been arrested twice before and spent several years in jail, arrived at the national police headquarters under tight security. "The United States is behind this!" shouted the white-bearded cleric. "This arrest is a blessing. I will be rewarded by Allah!"

The fiery 72-year-old co-founded Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaeda-linked network responsible for a string of suicide bombings, including the 2002 Bali attacks that killed 202 people. Today's arrest was the first time Bashir, who has denied links to terrorism, has been directly linked to specific plots, instead of merely inspiring them with his anti-Western rhetoric. But police say he's always been heavily involved with the group. "He routinely received reports from their field coordinator," says one spokesman.

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