Jakarta. Terrorist convict Abu Bakar Baasyir was freed from the Gunung Sindur Penitentiary in Bogor, West Java; on Friday morning, without a single sympathizer in sight.
The radical Muslim cleric had already completed his 15-year sentence with a reduction of 55 months.
"Baasyir was released after undergoing an administration process and Covid-19 protocols. He took a rapid antigen test and his results came negative," Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman for the corrections directorate general at the Justice Ministry, said in an official statement on Friday.
Family members and a legal team came to take Baasyir home to Sukoharjo, Central Java. For health protocols, they had to provide a negative swab test result before picking up the cleric. Anti-terror police squad Densus 88 and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) also escorted Baasyir's homecoming.
"The release went safely and smoothly," Rika said.
In a video message provided by the directorate, the elderly cleric thanked prison officials who assisted him during his prison term.
"I would like to express gratitude and prayed to Allah to return the kindness of men and women who helped me here,” Baasyir said.
According to reports from local news outlet Antara, the pick-up rides entered the facility, one by one at midnight, and left the premise altogether. No sympathizer in religious attributes were seen, be it around the penitentiary or along the nearby road.
Baasyir, 82, did not even show himself when exiting the penitentiary in a white minibus. The car carrying him was the second in line out of the five cars which left the building. At the front was an ambulance.
The preacher's son Abdul Rahim Basyir said he already urged sympathizers to not pick his father up at the penitentiary. Nor to welcome Basyir at his Sukoharjo, Central Java house.
"There are no sympathizers. From the family's side, the boarding school has announced to the public to avoid crowding especially in a pandemic," he said.
Rika added the release was brought forward at an earlier time at dawn from the usual working hours to prevent crowds from sympathizers.
Baasyir was the spiritual leader of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah. In June 2011, the 82-year-old was sentenced to 15 years in prison for funding a militant training camp in Aceh.
A discourse on conditional release for Baasyir's conditional release once surfaced in January 2019. The government later decided that he was ineligible for the conditional release.
According to Justice Minister Yasonna H Laoly at that time, Baasyir was unable to meet the requirements, which included a loyalty oath to Pancasila and the country. The minister said this oath was a fundamental requirement for a terrorist convict's conditional release.
Prior to this conviction, Baasyir had already served jail time for being tied to the deadly Bali bombings. The blasts killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Baasyir is also the founder of Islamic boarding school, Al Mukmin in Ngruki, Sukoharjo.