JEDDAH/JAKARTA – A Saudi national went on trial in Indonesia Wednesday accused of financing twin suicide bombings on luxury hotels in Jakarta last year that killed seven people.
Al-Khelaiw Ali Abdullah, 54, “provided assistance and facilities to the terrorists by way of giving or lending money, things, or other wealth,” according to a draft of the indictment obtained by AFP.
Prosecutor Totok Bambang is expected to argue that the defendant, who was arrested shortly after the July 17 attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, provided the funding that pushed the plot into an operational phase.
The Saudi ambassador in Jakarta said Wednesday that the embassy had assigned a lawyer to defend Ali Abdullah. Ambassador Abdul Rahman Khayyat told Okaz that Saudi diplomats were present at Wednesday’s hearing and that embassy staff had visited him in jail and enabled him to call his family in the Kingdom.
Attack ringleader Noordin Mohammed Top, who was killed by police in September, told one of the suicide bombers to prepare for death after the money arrived from the Middle East, the indictment says.
Ali Abdullah strongly rejected the allegations as he arrived at the South Jakarta courthouse, saying he had wanted to start an Internet business in Indonesia and had no intention of funding terrorism. “I’m not a terrorist and I don’t know any terrorists,” he told AFP outside the court.
“I came to Indonesia to relax, be healthy and to start a computer business.
I don’t know anything about Al-Qaeda. Many of my relatives in Saudi Arabia are police and we fight terrorists.”
Wearing a pink shirt and walking with a cane, he said he had given 54 million rupiah ($5,800) to a man called Iwan Herdiansyah to start an Internet cafe and computer retail shop.
He admitted to meeting Syaifudin Zuhri, the alleged operational commander of the hotel attacks who was killed by police in October, but denied giving him any money or knowing anything about the bomb plot.
The indictment says Iwan gave 2.8 million rupiah of the Saudi’s money to Zuhri in four installments. If found guilty he faces up to 15 years in jail.
Police have said they are investigating whether funding for the attacks came from Al-Qaeda, which has allegedly financed previous attacks linked to Noordin and regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). – Okaz/ SG with Agencies