How Al Qaeda lit the Bali fuse: Part three
A bomber tries to realize his vision of a global Muslim uprising
(Page 3 of 4)
He traveled to Muslim schools and talked about Christian atrocities in Maluku. He showed videos depicting brave fighters protecting Muslim villagers, and urged the young men to take up arms. Samudra also peddled bizarre conspiracy tales: One of his favorites was about a Muslim girl named "Wawa." Samudra would tell listeners that she was raped by a priest as part of a national Christian strategy to impregnate Muslim women with "Christian" babies.Skip to next paragraph
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''This world is in the middle of a crusade,'' Samudra said, explaining his position to police interrogators. "After the attempts at 'Muslim cleansing' in (Maluku), it became clear that the people of the cross (Christians) will wipe out Muslims if the Muslims are too tolerant."
In late 2000, he approached Amrozi, the brother of JI leader Mukhlas, and asked if he could obtain explosives for the jihad in Ambon, according to Amrozi's deposition by police.
As a consequence, Amrozi struck up a relationship with a corrupt chemicals dealer in the East Java town of Surabaya. He would be used again for the Bali blast.
At the end of 2000, Samudra was the field commander for the city of Batam in the simultaneous bombings of nearly 30 Indonesian churches in 11 cities on Christmas Eve. Amazingly, only 19 people were killed in the explosions. Many of the bombs failed to go off, or exploded early. A symbol of the amateurish effort was the death of Jabir: He'd rigged a bomb to be detonated with a cellphone call, but had used his own phone. A friend called before he placed the bomb.
The organizers involved in the attacks avoided arrest - and Samudra and his friends learned from their mistakes.
A greater impact
By the time Samudra, Mukhlas, Amrozi, and a number of other operatives sat down together in Solo, Central Java, to make final preparations for the Bali attack, they were confident of making a greater impact. More than 20 men were involved in the plot, and they used more explosives, and more expertise, than they had before.
Hambali helped arrange $70,000 to be sent from overseas for the attack.
"If they're allowed second chances, groups like this will do more damage,'' says Rohan Gunaratna, an author and expert on terrorism. "They are always evolving."
The JI was evolving in other ways, too, shown by its targets in Indonesia.
Its earliest efforts were against Christian churches whose congregations had ties to the Maluku conflict. Later, Christian churches in general became the target.
The path ended late on Oct. 12, 2002, at the Sari Club and Paddy's Bar in Kuta, Bali haunts favored by young tourists.
The objective, as police spokesman Suyatmo puts it, "was to kill as many Westerners as possible." The conflict in the Maluku provinces had waned, and anger at the US invasion of Afghanistan had replaced anger at Christians in Maluku as their fuel.
Checking the results
Samudra was a mile and a half away from Kuta when the first bomb exploded in Paddy's, and the bigger car bomb ripped through the Sari Club across the street. The next morning, he took a motorbike to survey the wreckage, pleased with his handiwork. Soon the police were closing in, and he was arrested on Nov. 21, as he prepared to flee the country.
His court case is likely to drag on for months, and could end with the death penalty. He's told his lawyers he'll "embrace" death, because he believes his reward is waiting for him in heaven.
Indonesia moves quickly on Bali trials
Earlier this week, the trial began for Mukhlas, the Indonesian cleric accused of coordinating the Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people last year.