Indonesian Islamists cheered when Singaporean sentenced for Bali 9 was freed

Written by By Alyssa Echavarria, CNN

Huge cheers broke out at Indonesia’s capital’s Central Jakarta court Friday as several hundred supporters cheered the news that an Indonesian militant sentenced to life in prison for plotting a terrorist attack has been released from prison.

Eight men, including Singaporean national Younis Khalid Darwi, will be deported after completing their sentences. They are part of the so-called Indonesian Bali Nine, who were captured in 2003 for plotting to blow up the crowded tourist hub and bar district of Bali.

Most of the 12th member of the group — Indonesian militant Rantama Bakrie — was given the death penalty, but his execution was delayed in 2016, after it was revealed that three of the groups would be granted reprieves.

They were later left empty-handed when Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled in January 2017 that he would be sentenced to life in prison for terrorism and drug trafficking.

The verdicts finally came down Friday.

Protesters celebrate outside a mosque in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, after it was announced that Younis Harun Kamal, a Singaporean who was jailed in 2004 for explosives and weapons offenses in Indonesia, will be deported on Sunday. Credit: AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim

“I will not appeal this sentence, rather, I will try to deliver help to our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world,” said Kamal, who was nicknamed “Little Frank Underwood” after the adulterer in the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

The group was born out of the 9/11-inspired Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a group still active in Southeast Asia. The group had nurtured in radicalized youth in Indonesia for years, and would later achieve great notoriety for carrying out a number of attacks on Western interests in the country in the 2000s.

The “Bali Nine” were Indonesia’s first major arrests in 2004, and were considered among the world’s most dangerous extremists. They planned a bomb attack on a crowded nightclub at the height of the Christmas and New Year’s period at the famous holiday destination of Kuta Beach, in the southern part of Bali. In the end, all were caught in the act of bombing in 2002.

However, the main focus of the police investigation was Singaporean national Younis Khalid Darwi, who has since been at the forefront of the group’s fundraising and operational activities.

In sentencing Kamal, judge Ghani Nuru said Kamal was mentally unstable and influenced by violent extremists who set him on the path toward joining terrorist organizations.

The prosecution said Kamal had been jailed for seven years for manufacturing explosives and firearms at his home in the province of West Java, and for transferring a large amount of cash to a terrorist group in Aceh, the westernmost of Indonesia’s 29 provinces.

All of the other extremists have been sentenced to prison, with Kamal following the ninth member to the cells. He is expected to be deported and repatriated to Singapore Sunday.

The group has tried to establish a terrorist organization to target tourists, primarily going by the name “Indonesian Sunnah Battalion.”

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