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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs         6  July 2011

Terrorist trial would increase Indo risks

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Indonesia fears the trial of an alleged mastermind of the Bali bombings would increase terrorist risks and suggested it was not keen on prosecuting Umar Patek, a report said on Wednesday.

Patek, one of the most wanted Islamic extremists in Southeast Asia, was arrested in March in Abbottabad in Pakistan -- the same town where Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed just weeks later.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, the head of Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency Ansyaad Mbai said Patek would become a new figurehead for violent jihadis if returned to the country of his birth.

“Umar Patek was chased by many countries. There was a [million dollar] prize on his head but now that he’s arrested it’s as if Indonesia must face the problem alone,” Ansyaad told the newspaper.

“This man is very dangerous. His presence here would increase the terror threat, not only to Indonesia but to several countries with a presence here.

“He’ll be like fresh air for remnants of the terrorism network. [The terrorists] are dangerous, they still exist and they’ve been waiting for a figurehead such as Umar Patek.”

Born in 1970, Patek was the alleged field coordinator for the massive explosions that flattened night clubs on the holiday island of Bali in 2002, killing more than 200 people, almost 90 of them Australians.

It placed mainly Muslim Indonesia on the front lines of the global battle against Islamic militancy.

A suspected member of the Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), he was also blamed for a series of deadly bombings targeting Christians and Westerners in Indonesia dating back to 1999.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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