Leader of Indonesia attack plot gets 11 years in prison

Indonesian militant Muhammad Nur Solikin looks on after he was sentenced to 11 years jail in a Jakarta court on Wednesday for orchestrating a plot inspired by the Daesh group to stage a suicide bomb attack on the presidential palace. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2017

Leader of Indonesia attack plot gets 11 years in prison

JAKARTA: An Indonesian militant linked to the Daesh group smiled and raised one finger toward the sky after a court on Wednesday sentenced him to 11 years in prison for leading a plot to attack a presidential guard-changing ceremony in Jakarta.
At the same sentencing hearing, a co-conspirator, who received six years in prison, shook his fist in the air and shouted “God is Great.”
Muhammad Nur Solihin, the ring leader, and Agus Supriyadi were arrested along with two other militants including Solihin’s wife in December, just one day before their planned attack on the popular family attraction at the presidential palace.
In its verdict at the East Jakarta District Court, a three-judge panel said there was no justification for either man’s actions and both were guilty of violating Indonesia’s anti-terror law.
The would-be suicide bomber, Solihin’s wife Dian Yulia Novi, was sentenced last month to 7 1/2 years in prison. Another woman, Tutin, received 3 1/2 years for encouraging Novi to become a suicide bomber.
The apparently unrepentant militants are indicative of the challenge facing Indonesian authorities who have imprisoned hundreds of radicals in the past decade for plots and attacks. After serving their sentences, many emerge from the country’s overcrowded prisons with an even greater commitment to violent radicalism and new links to other militants.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, has waged a sustained crackdown on violent jihadis since the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, but efforts to de-radicalize convicted militants have had uneven success. Meanwhile, a new threat of attacks has emerged from Daesh group sympathizers.
In a television interview after December arrests, Solihin said that he married Novi as his second wife to facilitate her desire to become a suicide bomber.
Presiding Judge Syafrudin Ainor Rafiek said the 37-year-old Supriyadi helped transport Solihin and the bomb for the attack from Central Java to Novi’s residence in Bekasi, a Jakarta satellite city.
The 27-year-old Solihin was the alleged leader of a small extremist cell in Central Java’s Solo city, police have said. His 28-year-old wife planned to run close to the presidential guards during the ceremony and blow herself up with a pressure cooker bomb.
Police have described the group as part of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a network of almost two dozen Indonesian extremist groups that formed in 2015 and pledges allegiance to Daesh group leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.


Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi

Updated 28 January 2021

Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi

KABUL: Afghan authorities are planning to rebuild a 13th-century Islamic teaching complex in Balkh province that once was home to one of the world’s most famous mystics and poets, Jalaluddin Rumi.

Rumi was born in the Balkh complex in 1207. The learning site, which comprised a mosque, monastery and madrasa for hundreds of disciples, belonged to his father, the theologian Bahauddin Walad, known by Afghans as Sultan Al-Ulema.

A few years after Rumi’s family left Balkh around 1210, the prosperous town northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, was destroyed by Genghis Khan’s Mongols storming in from the northeast. 

Work to rebuild Balkh took more than a century and the learning site remained in ruins. Centuries later, when billions of dollars of foreign aid began to reach Afghanistan following the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, the Kabul government came under fire for failing to restore Walad’s center.

However, restoration work is now due to begin in spring with the onset of warmer weather.

“It will be rebuilt in a classic and traditional manner,” Shivaye Sharq, Afghan deputy information minister, told Arab News last week.

“With the revival of the monastery, we hope to introduce people to a lost treasure,” he said. “In addition to the monastery, there will be a museum, a studio for sama dance, a cultural salon, garden and library.”

The whirling dance of sama is associated with Rumi, whose followers practice it as a form of prayer and devotion. 

Since Rumi lived most of his life in Anatolia, Turkey, and was buried in Konya, where his shrine became a place of pilgrimage, the Turkish government years ago pledged to help rebuild his father’s center, but the promise has not been fulfilled.

Matiullah Karimi, head of the information and culture center in Balkh province, said the $7 million cost of the restoration project will be covered by the Afghan government.

“A portion of a massive mud-built dome and four smaller ones are the only things left from the monastery,” Karimi told Arab News.

“Restoring this monastery is important for safeguarding our cultural heritage and learning, and it will be good for the tourism industry as well,” he said.

For Afghan scholars, the restoration of the learning center will also help society at large.

“The advancement of a nation is not gauged by the rising buildings, long roads and wealth that do not promote knowledge and science, but by libraries, knowledge and centers like Walad’s, which was a source of hope for many,” Hashmatullah Bawar, a social sciences lecturer at Kabul’s Dunya University, told Arab News.

The appeal of Rumi, who in the 21st century is still considered one of the world’s greatest and also bestselling poets, reinforces the enthusiasm over the reconstruction of his father’s center. 

“Rumi inherited his mystical thinking from his great father,” Saleh Mohammed Khaliq, head of Balkh Writers’ Union, told Arab News.

“Humanist and mystical thought is badly needed in our current world, which has become a victim of violence and wars.”