Indonesia executes Bali bombers

November 9, 2008 12:00 am

, INDONESIA, November 9 – Three Indonesian Islamists were executed by firing squad early on Sunday for the Bali bombings which killed 202 people, sparking calls for revenge from their radical supporters.

Indonesia stepped up security at tourist spots and embassies following the executions of Amrozi, 47, his brother Mukhlas, 48, and ringleader Imam Samudra, 38, which sparked brief clashes between police and hundreds of mourners.

The three men were killed with shots to the heart shortly after midnight near their prison on Nusakambangan island off southern Java, said attorney general’s office spokesman Jasman Panjaitan.

They refused an offer of blindfolds and cooperated fully with their executioners, he said.

"All three convicted men were very cooperative and didn’t resist at all. The families have also been cooperative and sincere," Panjaitan said.

A source in the prison told AFP they shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greater) as they were escorted out of their isolation cells shortly before midnight on Saturday.

The 2002 attacks targeted packed nightspots on the holiday island of Bali, killing more than 160 foreigners including 88 Australians, as well as 38 Indonesians.

Until the end, the bombers expressed no remorse for their "infidel" victims and claimed they wanted to die as "martyrs" for their dream of an Islamic caliphate spanning much of Southeast Asia.

Survivors and relatives of the victims expressed a mixture of relief and sadness at the news.

"I guess the overwhelming feeling isn’t joy because they’re dead, but it’s definitely relief that we don’t have to continue with the circus," said Trent Thompson, whose brother Clint was among the Australians killed.

Tumini, who worked at Paddy’s bar which was destroyed by one of the bombs, said: "I’m feeling happy. I don’t have any resentment towards them. I only hope that this problem (of Islamic radicalism) can be solved at its roots."

The bombers, members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network, were sentenced in 2003 but launched at least four failed legal challenges which delayed their executions and kept them in the media spotlight.

Hundreds of supporters briefly clashed with police as the bodies of Mukhlas and Amrozi — the latter dubbed the "smiling assassin" for his courtroom antics — arrived by helicopter at their village of Tenggulun in east Java.

Hardline cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the co-founder of Jemaah Islamiyah who was jailed on a conspiracy charge related to the bombings before being released in 2006, led prayers for the brothers but did not speak to the media.

There were similar scenes in the west Java town of Serang as Samudra’s body was paraded to the graveyard, shrouded in a black cloth bearing a Koranic inscription in Arabic.

"There’ll probably be retaliation. What is clear is that no drop of Muslim blood is free. It has consequences," said Ganna, 26, who travelled 90 kilometres (56 miles) from Jakarta to Serang to show his support.

The vast majority of Indonesian Muslims have little sympathy for militants, and even among the angry mourners in Serang, one man told AFP the bombers’ "jihad" was wrong.

"If there’s a war, fighting jihad is good for the religion but don’t do it here in Indonesia. Bali isn’t a battlefield," he said.

Security has been beefed up around sensitive areas such as embassies, tourist spots, shopping malls and ports. On Hindu-majority Bali, 3,500 police are on the streets providing additional security, officials said.

Australia has urged citizens to reconsider travel to Indonesia, and the United States has warned Americans to "maintain a low profile" and avoid demonstrations.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was a time to remember both the victims and survivors of the bloody attack.

"Their lives remain shattered. They’ve been changed fundamentally by that murder," he told reporters. "So it is their lives that we think about today."

The bombers were sentenced under a new anti-terror law that was applied retroactively, leading to criticism from rights campaigners and fuelling anger among their Islamist supporters.

Amnesty International said the executions should be the last time Indonesia uses the death penalty.

The Bali attack was the bloodiest in a sustained period of Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadist violence in the world’s most populous Muslim country, including a car bombing on the Australian embassy in 2004.

The alleged mastermind, Malaysian extremist Noordin Mohammad Top, is still at large.


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