Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The trial of a Saudi national accused of providing financial support to a terrorist group that carried out twin suicide bomb attacks on luxury hotels in Jakarta last year, resulting in a death toll of seven, is set to resume in the Indonesian capital.
Asharq Al-Awsat learnt that Saudi national Ali Abdullah al-Khelaiw, aged 54, is facing criminal charges due to his relationship with one of the terrorists involved in the suicide attack on Jakarta last year, and that the Indonesian authorities believe he is responsible for financing this attack.
South Jakarta district court prosecutor Iwan Setiawan called for al-Khelaiw to be imprisoned for a period of no less than 9 years, saying that the Saudi defendant had “assisted in providing funds to terrorists and misused immigration documents.” Al-Khelaiw denies the charges laid against him, saying that he travelled to Indonesia in order to set up a computer business, and that the money in question was lent by him to an Indonesian business partner for the purpose of setting up an internet café in Jakarta.
Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulrahman al-Khayat spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone, revealing that the Saudi embassy in Jakarta had provided al-Khelaiw with legal representation, and that an appeal against the charges laid against him is set to be made citing lack of evidence.
Al-Khayat also expressed his hopes that this issue would be resolved before al-Khelaiw’s trail is over, and before the Indonesian authorities can sentence him to a prison sentence.
Al-Khelaiw has been charged with providing ” assistance and facilities to the terrorists by way of giving or lending money, things, or other wealth ” to a terrorist group led by Noordin Mohammed Top who was killed by Indonesian police in a raid on a terrorist hideout in central Java September 2009, two months after the 17 July 2009 Jakarta bombings.
Al-Khelaiw denies having any knowledge of the attacks that were carried out on the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta, although the prosecution claims that he provided 54 million rupiah (equivalent to $5,994) to a person named Iwan Herdiansyah, a friend of Syaifuddin Jaelani, who took part in the Jakarta bombings and was killed by Indonesian police on the day of the attacks. Al-Khelaiw admits to meeting Jaelani, although he said that he did not provide him with any money, or have any prior knowledge about the terrorist plot.
The Indonesia security forces say that Ali al-Khelaiw’s failure to comply with the Indonesian laws of residence, as well as his disregard of the laws surrounding investment in Indonesia, as being weak points in the Saudi national’s case.
Asharq Al-Awsat also learnt that a meeting took place last week between the Indonesian Justice Minister and the Saudi ambassador to Jakarta, and that the Saudi ambassador failed to secure any promises that the charges against al-Khelaiw would be dropped.