Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bombers, meet firing squad

Warnings issued ahead of Bali bombers' execution

The Indonesian men who were convicted of killing 202 nightclubgoers have called for revenge attacks against Westerners.

By Jonathan Adams
Christian Science Monitor
Terrorism and Security Update

November 3, 2008

With the execution of three of the Bali bombers imminent, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and the US have issued warnings to their citizens against travel to Indonesia.

The execution by firing squad of the three men convicted of bombing two Bali nightclubs in 2002 had been expected as early as Monday, but it was unclear whether Indonesia's Supreme Court had formally rejected an 11th-hour appeal from the bombers' lawyers.

Regardless, some Western governments worry revenge attacks may follow the terrorists' execution. All three were condemned to death for their involvement in the bombing of a popular resort area of Bali that killed 202 civilians – mostly Australian tourists.

Far from showing remorse, the three members of the militant Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah have in their final days called for more attacks on Westerners.

TheDailyTelegraph (London) reports that several countries have issued travel warnings.

Amid fears of revenge attacks, Australia has advised its citizens against all travel to the south-east Asian country. In London, the Foreign Office said that British citizens should exercise caution and be vigilant for political protests or any sign of violence. The United States warned its citizens to "maintain a low profile".

But The Jakarta Post reports that the alerts haven't fazed foreign beachgoers at some of Indonesia's most popular vacation spots. And the BBC quoted an expert on Indonesia and terrorism as saying a bomb attack after the executions was unlikely.

The Australian reported Monday that an Indonesian district court granted a request for another appeal to the Supreme Court, as the bombers' family members waited to make a final visit to the condemned.

But the paper said "the reprieve could be short lived, with the higher court already adamant it has no further interest in the matter."

The report noted that the Indonesian authorities might be reluctant to execute the men Tuesday or Wednesday, indicating a possible delay of several days if they were not put to death later Monday.

The Associated Press later Monday quoted a Supreme Court judge saying the last-minute legal challenge from the bombers' lawyers "will not change or delay the execution."

In a report partially credited to Agence France-Presse, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday that the three men – Imam Samudra, Mukhlas, and Amrozi – have written letters posted on the Islamic website Amrozi, calling for revenge attacks.

Samudra directed his letter to people in the West, suggesting they should not be surprised "if America, the so-called superpower, is beaten, almost dying," and it would lose "the war against the mujahideen." "You, the little people, will be easy to 'smack down' by the mujahideen."

The same report quoted the mother of two of the bombers as saying her sons were right to "kill infidels."

Seventy-year-old Tariem was speaking in Tenggulun, East Java.

"I don't cry. I leave it all to God," she said as Amrozi and Mukhlas, two of her 13 children, waited for the firing squad. "I feel that killing infidels isn't a mistake because they don't pray."

The Herald Sun of Australia traveled to the home village of two of the bombers, Mukhlas and his younger brother Amrozi. The report described how the two came "under the spell" of a radical cleric while at an Islamic boarding school in central Java.

The village chief, Abu Sholeh, said he doubted whether Amrozi's mechanical skills were good enough to build the massive bomb used in the Bali attack. He said he believed a "bigger power" was the mastermind.

The village chief becomes angry when he reflects on the shame the two brothers have brought on his humble community. "Do not get the wrong impression that the whole village is like them, they are just two men," he said.

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