Monday, May 09, 2005

Freedom for the Bali Bomber?

American Expat in Southeast Asia reports that Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, the spiritual head of the Jemaah Islamiyah, may be released early -- before the end of the year -- as a consequence of increasing domestic pressure to absolve him of culpability.

Back on 3 March 2005 CNN reported that Abu Bakar Ba'asyir would recieved a jail term of 30 months for his involvement in the bombing. What they didn't cover or tell you then were the details of the case and what led to such a lenient sentence including captured members of Jemaah Islamiyah retracting statements and the testimony of an American citizen. ... by the name of Fred Burks who had been working as a translator for the State Department and had attended a meeting together with the CIA and the NSA at the residence of Indonesia's president Megawati Sukarnoputri.

This seems to be the same Fred Burks who authored a glowing review in Al Jazeerah of the BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares. Burks wrote:

This revealing BBC documentary digs deep into the roots of the war on terror, only to find that much of the widespread fear in the post 9/11 world has been fabricated by those in power for their own interests. The intrepid BBC team presents highly informative interviews with top officials and experts in combating terrorism who raise serious questions about who is behind all of the fear-mongering.

This eye-opening documentary shows that, especially after 9/11, fear has been used to manipulate the public into giving up civil liberties and turning over ever more power to elite groups with their own hidden agendas.

In my own experience as an interpreter for US and foreign presidents, I have personally witnessed some of the manipulations mentioned in the above documentary. Having worked as an Indonesian interpreter with the US Department of State for over 18 years, I recently testified to this in the widely publicized trial of Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir. Among other things, Mr. Ba'asyir is accused by US authorities of being the mastermind behind JI (Jemaah Islamiah), which is alleged to be a sister organization of Al Qaeda. Many Indonesians are quite skeptical of these allegations. Like me and the BBC video, they question whether JI was largely fabricated by powerful elite groups with hidden agendas.

At the trial, I testified about a Sept. 2002 secret meeting at which I interpreted for President of Indonesia Megawati Soekarnoputri, US Ambassador Ralph Boyce, National Security Council representative Karen Brooks, and a special assistant sent personally by President Bush (who revealed privately to me that she was a CIA agent). The "special assistant" pressured President Megawati to secretly capture and turn over Abu Bakar Ba'asyir to the United States. Yet US authorities have continually denied ever putting any pressure on Jakarta to act against Ba'asyir.