Monday, March 03, 2008

Bali Bombers Will Soon Be Shot Dead

The morning after the Bali bombings in Kuta

Three of the key terrorists responsible for the Bali bombings are now waiting to die on an Indonesian prison island. Their executioners are camping outside the prison, and have been there for two months, waiting to do their jobs. There will be no clemency given by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and their current appeals will fail. All three should be dead by the day, October 12, of the sixth anniversary of the bombings.

An extraordinary encounter with the three key Bali bombers :

Imam Samudra, 38, was the planner who chose the targets in Bali and organised two suicide bombers to carry out the attacks.

Ali Ghufron, 48, better known as Mukhlas, was the financier who once met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan while making his own pilgrimage from theologian to jihadist.

Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, 46, dubbed "the Smiling Bomber", was the village mechanic who bought the explosives and the Mitsubishi van used as a car bomb.

The first suicide bomber walked into Paddy's Bar and set off a bomb in the middle of a crowd of customers. The second bomber waited for people to flee into the street, then detonated the Mitsubishi, packed with more than a tonne of explosives, outside the Sari Club. The victims were incinerated or flayed, died of shock or perished later from their burns and injuries.

The three men in the room with us were caught, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. They said they had been stripped naked, beaten, given electric shocks and plunged into baths of water to make them talk.

"People called me the mastermind of the Bali bombing," (Samudra) said. "Maybe right, maybe wrong. My only mission was to help the Muslims."

And then he said something extraordinary. He claimed the bombers never meant to kill so many people. What happened at Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club was "unacceptable", he said.

Had he made the bomb? "No, no, no," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't help to make it, and who made the bomb and when I don't know."

The second explosion was much bigger than they had expected, he said.

The only explanation, he suggested, was that "the CIA or KGB or Mossad" - those familiar bogeymen of the conspiracy theorist - somehow tampered with the bomb. "It is very possible," he claimed. "I learned about explosives in Afghanistan. As you know, I may be an expert."

The truth may never be known.

Two months before the bombing, he said, he had studied tourist literature to narrow down the list of targets.

Once on the scene, he said, "I observed Zionists. I knew they were using it (the bar) and then also I know I could spread this, with Australia, with Aussies."

Samudra denied bin Laden paid for the bombing, saying: "The money came from other people.

"Some try to make a link between al-Qa'ida and us. Now I don't know about this. We are not linked. The only link is faith and teachings."

Mukhlas, who prosecutors say raised the funds, also denied receiving money from bin Laden, saying: "I collected it from supporters in Malaysia and Indonesia."

It was almost a relief when Amrozi came over, sat down and squeezed my leg in a friendly manner. "My smile is my weapon," he said. "It makes my enemies upset. This is a special weapon for jihad."

What a different world it would be if terrorists attacked with smiles instead of bombs and guns.

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