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Mar 25,2008
Australia defiant in face of threats
by UPI

SYDNEY - Australia's foreign minister said, in response to a cleric's call for violence, his government enjoys strong relations on counter-terrorism with Indonesia.

Abu Bakar Bashir, who heads an umbrella organization of several Indonesian mujahedin groups, called on his followers in October to take action against Australian tourists who violate Islamic values. Intelligence officials claim Bashir is the spiritual leader of the group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is on the U.S. State Department list of terror organizations.

Australian media reports highlighted Bashir's call to action Monday, prompting Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to re-emphasize the counter-terrorism work done by the Australian and Indonesian governments, Antara, the official news agency of the Indonesian government, said.

Smith pointed to the successful prosecutions of more than 180 reputed terrorists since 2000 as evidence of the collaborative relationship.

"The reported comments by Abu Bakar Bashir are consistent with his well-known views and nothing more than his familiar bigotry. I condemn these views absolutely," Smith said.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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