Indonesia executes, buries Bali bombers

Thousands gathered in support. But overall the group behind the 2002 attacks, Jemaah Islamiyah, poses a diminished threat today.

By , Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Six years after Islamic militants in Indonesia bombed two packed bars on the resort island of Bali, killing 202 people, three of the bombers were executed by firing squad Sunday.

Authorities had warned beforehand of potential reprisal attacks by Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist network blamed for the 2002 attacks and several other deadly bombings in Indonesia. Australia, home to many of the foreigners killed on Bali, claimed to have received reports of possible terrorist attacks in Indonesia. Its embassy and the US mission in Jakarta last week received anonymous threats, prompting tightened security.

But terrorist experts and Indonesian security forces generally concur that Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional Al Qaeda affiliate, poses a diminished risk today compared with the time of the Bali attacks, as many of its leaders are in jail, dead, or on the run elsewhere in Southeast Asia. (Click here for the Monitor's series on the rise of Islamic militancy in Indonesia: How Al Qaeda lit the Bali fuse.)

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Attention turned Sunday to the village in East Java where two of the executed men, brothers Amrozi Nurhasyim and Ali Gufron, were buried. Supporters of radical Islamic groups flocked there, as they did at the separate burial site of Imam Samudra, the third bomber. In rowdy scenes, people cried "God is Great" and called the men heroes, Reuters reported.

Although Indonesia has convicted scores of terrorist suspects since 2002 as part of its crackdown on radical Islamists, only the three Bali bombers received the death penalty. Three Christians were separately sentenced to death over sectarian beheadings on Sulawesi Island.

None of the men executed Sunday had shown remorse for their role. In press interviews, they boasted of killing "infidels" to avenge US foreign policy and said they only regretted that Muslims had died. But they also submitted several appeals for leniency that, along with political sensitivities, delayed the carrying out of the 2003 sentence.

The execution was carried out just after midnight Sunday on a prison island where the men have been held. A helipad was recently built on the island to allow the bodies to be transported by helicopter to their home villages for immediate burial, a Muslim custom.

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