BALI– Two bombs ripped through the Kuta area of the Indonesian tourist island of Bali on 12 October 2002, leaving 202 people dead. Among those killed at Paddy’s Irish Bar and the nearby Sari Club were people from 21 countries, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 28 Britons. BBC News looks at the background to the bombings 10 years on.

The seeds of the October 2002 Bali bombing plot were probably sown in a hotel room in southern Thailand 10 months earlier.

At a secret meeting of operatives from South East Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiah (JI), Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, was believed to have ordered a new strategy of hitting soft targets, such as nightclubs and bars rather than high-profile sites like foreign embassies.

But it was not until August 2002 that Bali was chosen as the place to strike.

According to Ali Imron, who was jailed in 2003 for life for his part in the attacks, it was at a meeting in a house in Solo, Central Java, that “field commander” Imam Samudra announced the plan to bomb Bali, and the main agents in the plot first came together.

Bali was chosen “because it was frequented by Americans and their associates”, Ali Imron said. He quoted Imam Samudra as saying it was part of a jihad, or holy war, to “defend the people of Afghanistan from America”.

In fact, more Australians and Indonesians died than Americans, prompting speculation that the plotters were poorly informed or manipulated by other people.

Hambali, who is currently in US custody in Guantanamo Bay, is believed to have been the South East Asian contact for Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.

But he is not thought to have played an active part in the Bali plot.

Terror Attack

Instead, 43-year-old Islamic teacher Mukhlas – also known as Ali Ghufron – was convicted as the overall co-ordinator of the attacks.

Prosecutors said he approved the targets and secured financing for the bombings. Mukhlas himself claimed he just gave the bombers religious guidance.

He also recruited two of his younger brothers, Amrozi and Ali Imron, to play key roles in the attack.

Mukhlas and Imam Samudra are said to have chaired preparatory meetings in western Java during August and September.

Ali Imron said that the Bali attacks were originally planned for 11 September, to mark the first anniversary of the terror attacks on the US.

But the bombs were apparently not ready in time, and the plans had to be postponed.

The details of the attack were finalised in Bali between 6 and 10 October.

Suicide Mission?

The bombers apparently all had separate roles.

A man called Idris, who was later jailed for another bomb attack, was accused of gathering funds and arranging transport and accommodation for the bombers.

Amrozi admitted to buying the chemicals and the minivan used in the Sari Club blast.

He also named Dulmatin as the man who helped assemble the bombs. He also said that a man called Abdul Ghoni mixed the explosives. Another man, Umar Patek, was also convicted in June 2012 of helping make explosives.

Ali Imron said he helped make the main bomb that was used at the Sari Club.

He said a van loaded with explosives had been driven to Sari by a man called Jimi, who died in the blast. A man called Iqbal wore a vest with a bomb in it, which he detonated at Paddy’s Bar.

“Their duty was to explode the bombs,” Ali Imron had said. “They were ready to die.”

Iqbal is known to have died in Paddy’s Bar. But Ali Imron also told police that the two bombs exploded prematurely, which could have caught Iqbal out, so it is unclear if he was on a suicide mission.

Different Reactions

All the individuals detained for playing a major role in the attacks have been sentenced – and Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra were executed in November 2008.

Other key suspects are believed to have been killed by police before facing trial.

Azahari Husin, a Malaysian who was alleged to be JI’s top bomb-making expert and to have helped assemble the Bali bombs, was killed in eastern Indonesian in November 2005.

Another alleged bomb-maker, Noordin Mohammad Top, was killed in a raid in November 2009.

Dulmatin was killed by Indonesian police on March 2010 during a raid at a Jakarta internet cafe.

Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, seen as the spiritual leader of militant Islam in Indonesia, was jailed for conspiracy over the bombings, but his conviction was later quashed. He is currently behind bars on different charges.

While the Bali attacks were a team effort, its aftermath provoked different reactions from those involved.

Police said Imam Samudra stayed in Bali for several days after the bombing to survey the devastation he wrought and observe the reactions of people he affected.

Ali Imron shed tears in court, and repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions.

Amrozi laughed and joked about his case, giving a thumbs-up sign when he was convicted. He said he was happy to die a martyr.

Source: BBC

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