A radical Indonesian cleric blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings attacks walked free from prison yesterday, and quickly accused the US of state terrorism.
Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, 68, was given a hero's welcome by around 150 cheering supporters after finishing a 26-month sentence for conspiracy in the Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, mostly young foreign tourists.
The preacher immediately set off for the boarding school he founded in central Java province, which is notorious for spawning many of Indonesia's deadliest terrorists.
"The United States is a state terrorist because it is waging war against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan," he told reporters when asked about US accusations he was a key member of Southeast Asia's Jemaah Islamiyah terror group.
Bashir made the remarks after he stopped for midday prayers in the town of Tegal east of Jakarta. They show he lost none of his trademark anti-US rhetoric during his time in jail.
Earlier, he called for "all Muslims to unite behind one goal" and implement Islamic Sharia law across the world.
The US and Australia, which also believes Bashir is a key member of Jemaah Islamiyah, said they were disappointed at his release, as did Australian victims of the Bali blasts.
"I think the Indonesian government need to have a good look at themselves," said Peter Hughes, 46, by telephone from the western Australian city of Perth. "This guy is going to cause a lot of trouble."
Hughes survived the blasts with burns over 56 percent of his body and shrapnel wounds.
Jemaah Islamiyah is accused of carrying out church bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the 2002 Bali bombings, attacks in the Indonesian capital in 2003 and 2004, and a triple suicide bombing on Bali last October. The attacks together killed more than 260 people.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.