The near release of Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged Bali bombing mastermind, was an unwanted reminder of the dangers the old and ailing cleric could pose when he eventually emerges from prison.
Bashir, 81, has served more than half a 15-year jail term for terrorism-related charges.
He is eligible for parole which was approved by President Joko Widodo last week on humanitarian grounds but rejected after Bashir failed to renounce violence and demands for an Islamic caliphate, and concerns expressed "at the highest level" by Australia.
But time off for good behaviour and sentence reductions, a characteristic of the Indonesian judicial system, means he could be released within the next few years or earlier.
"The families of his victims must be distraught by this development," said Mohan Malik from the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies (APCSS) in Hawaii.
Analysts stressed Bashir's influence has waned since his days as spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), blamed for a string of attacks across Indonesia, most notably the twin Bali bombings that left 202 people dead, including 88 Australians, and injured another 209.
However, his ability to press Islamic militants into action should not be underestimated.
Malik, a veteran in counter terrorism and defence strategy at Deakin University and Australian National University, said Bashir's release would provide a fillip among fundamentalists at the clerical level.
"It's a bad sign," he added. "It will send the wrong signal to these fundamentalists not just inside Indonesia but around the region for decades to come."
At the height of JI's terror campaign Indonesian intelligence put the number of Islamic militants at about 5,000. A paltry figure in a country of 264 million but still enough to cause enormous trouble.
That figure included militants with family ties to terrorists making up core cells, who were prepared to step-up if called upon. That network, including JI's offshoot Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), has been dismantled, its leaders jailed, executed or killed by Indonesian security forces.
But its former followers still linger.
Bradley Allan, ex-Australian military and Director of Hong Kong-based A2 Global Risk, said Indonesia was sensitive to international concerns regarding Bashir's release but Widodo could not be seen as bowing to pressure from Australia.
"This would play into the hands of both his political opposition and the radical Islamic groups."
It's a delicate issue already aggravated by Prime Minister Scott Morrison when he raised the prospect of shifting the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem late last year, which angered Indonesia and put a free trade deal, yet to be signed byJakarta and Canberra, at risk.
Allan said Widodo had to tread carefully for fear of upsetting conservative Muslims when considering Bashir's release and his own need to bolster his Islamic credentials in the eyes of those same Muslims ahead of elections in April.
"Inside or out of jail he will continue to be a vocal supporter of sharia law and call for an Islamic state in Indonesia, even if this requires a Jihad involving groups we would consider to be terrorists and who most Indonesians would consider to be orang gila (crazy people)."
Todd Elliot, a senior analyst with Concord Consulting in Jakarta, said it was feared that Bashir could regain some relevance in terrorist circles when freed.
"Once released from prison, Bashir is expected to enjoy a significant amount of media attention and history shows that the cleric is not shy to publicise his hardline views," he said.
And that could also backfire on Widodo. Instead of winning votes from right-wing Islamic radicals in April he also risked fuelling the electoral chances of hardline fringe elements.
"Although much of the public brushes aside Bashir's views, there are many Islamists - militant and non-violent - who take his word at face value and are easily influenced by the cleric or statements issued on his behalf," Elliott said.
"If Bashir is given a soapbox to express his jihadist opinions, it could bolster the hardline and extremist movements during campaigning for the upcoming presidential and legislative elections."
It was view supported by Malik at APCSS who added political expedience in Bashir's release would not only anger Australians but also upset the moderates, police, judiciary and a network of Indonesians who worked to end JI's reign of terror.
"By connecting the dots Bashir's release can work to Widodo's advantage," he said.
"It's related to the election. The president is being held hostage by radicals, I see it in that context."
Australian Associated Press