Pakistan extradites Bali bombing suspect Umar Patek to Indonesia
The arrest of Islamist militant Umar Patek is raising questions about how best to prosecute militants suspected of cross-border terrorism.
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Since his arrest, the United States, Australia and the Philippines have all expressed interest in gaining access to the Indonesian national, who allegedly trained militants in Mindanao in the Philippines after fleeing there in 2003 and has suspected Al Qaeda links. Indonesia, however, is the only country that appears to have the evidence to convict him.Skip to next paragraph
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A treasure trove of information?
The US had offered a $1 million bounty for information leading to Patek’s capture, and analysts say his arrest may reveal important details about the links between extremist networks in South and Southeast Asia.
“He knows better than anyone else what the foreign jihadi networks are like in Mindanao,” says Mr. Jones. “He’ll know the transit routes, what the weapons mafia is like and where people get guns.”
Few details have been revealed about the operation that led to Patek’s capture, or what he was doing in Pakistan at the time of his arrest.
Patek, a former Afghan-trained mujahideen (holy warrior), is a senior member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a militant offshoot of Al Qaeda set up in the 1990s.
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He is also the one of the last remaining suspects in the Bali bombing. In 2008, Indonesia executed three of the men convicted of plotting that attack.
The muted response from radical hardliners here following the conviction in June of radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who a Jakarta court sentenced to 15 years in jail for helping set up a jihadist training camp in Aceh, has ebbed concerns that Patek’s return could become a flashpoint for radical Islamists.
That trial may also have reassured critics of Indonesia’s ability to inflict fair sentences.
“This is not the first time for Indonesia to try alleged terrorists,” said Tene. “We’ve shown our seriousness but also the capacity of our judicial system to bring these heinous acts to justice.”
Of more concern, perhaps, is how Patek will be treated in prison in a country where convicted terrorists have been granted access to cellphones and computers, allowing them to seek funds and continue preaching their message of jihad from behind bars.