How Al Qaeda lit the Bali fuse: Part three
A bomber tries to realize his vision of a global Muslim uprising
(Page 4 of 4)
Prosecutor Putu Indriati told the court that Mukhlas, also known as Ali Gufron, had arranged $30,500 to finance the attack, organized coordinating meetings, and picked the operatives. "When he heard on the radio about the bomb exploding on Bali, he thanked God," Putu said.Skip to next paragraph
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What she didn't mention were allegations by Indonesia and foreign governments that Mukhlas was the acting director of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist organization at the time of the attack, nor that JI is linked to Al Qaeda.
"We don't really want to use those words 'Jemaah Islamiyah' because then we're trying to prove something much bigger,'' says Lt. Col. Yatim Suyatmo, a spokesman for the Bali police. "Of course, there are indications that some of the suspects were involved with this group, but we want to focus on proving the case before us."
Nevertheless, Mukhlas's trial is part of a steady rain of prosecutions that Indonesia is bringing down upon alleged members and associates of JI. The trials of two other key figures in the Bali bombing, alleged field coordinator Imam Samudra and Mukhlas's younger brother Amrozi, began last month. More than a dozen less-important figures in the attack will be tried soon.
JI's alleged spiritual leader and co-founder, Abu Bakar Bashir, is currently being tried in a Jakarta court on treason charges; and a group of men with ties to JI are on trial in the city of Makassar over charges they killed three people in a bomb attack on a McDonald's restaurant.
Little new information has emerged so far, since most police allegations were obtained by the press prior to the trials. But the evidence, which has included the confessions of men like Amrozi and Samudra has appeared overwhelming.
The prosecutions amount to the only real systematic attempt to go after a branch of Al Qaeda through a court system since September 11. It is a sharp contrast to the pace of the US court process. In the 19 months since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, only one alleged member of that conspiracy, Zacarias Moussaoui, has been charged.
The rest of the 600-odd men captured on suspicion of belonging to Al Qaeda have been held in a sort of legal limbo at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The US approach was never an option for Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who needs an open and credible judicial process for the stability of her government. Indonesia's predominantly Muslim population was skeptical in the immediate aftermath of the attack that it had been carried out by a Muslim group.
Instead, Indonesian newspapers were filled with speculation that the bombings were organized by disgruntled Indonesian generals or perhaps by the CIA.
The prosecutions have undercut that sympathy, with Indonesian polls conducted by the influential news magazine Tempo and others now showing a majority of Indonesians believe the men on trial were involved in the attacks.
Key terror operatives
Charged with being the field commander for the bombing attacks in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002.
Also known as Jabir; was killed in the Christmas Eve bombings in Indonesia in 2000.
Also known as Hambali, the operations head of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.
On trial for Bali bombings; a logistics operative for the Bali bombing.
Also known as Ali Ghufron; chief coordinator of Bali attacks; brother of Amrozi.
Abu Bakar Bashir
Alleged spiritual leader and cofounder of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror group with ties to Al Qaeda.