Suicide bombers carried out the attacks on three Bali restaurants that killed at least 26 people, a senior Indonesian anti-terror official has said.
Major General Ansyaad Mbai said the remains of their bodies were found at the scenes in the tourist areas of Jimbaran and Kuta.
He added that the attacks appeared to have been carried out by regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI).
JI was blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings, which left 202 people dead.
More than 100 people were wounded in the latest attacks, 17 of them seriously.
Gen Mbai said the three attackers went into the restaurants - two in Jimbaran beach resort, the third in Kuta - on Saturday evening wearing explosive vests, which they detonated.
"I have seen them. All that is left is their head and feet," he told the Associated Press news agency.
|| Grieving and looking for clues at the scene of the Bali bombings|
The bombs appear to have been packed with ball bearings - a technique commonly used by suicide attackers to maximise casualties.
Vicky Griffiths, an Australian survivor, said X-rays had showed ball bearings were imbedded in her back.
The BBC's Tim Johnston in Bali says the confirmation strengthens the assumption voiced by many Indonesian officials that JI was responsible for these bombings as it was for the attack three years ago.
Gen Mbai said two Malaysian fugitives were suspected of masterminding the strikes - Azahari Bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top, who have been on Indonesia's most wanted lists since the attacks in 2002.
The two are accused of orchestrating those blasts and two others in the Indonesian capital in 2003 and 2004.
"The modus operandi of Saturday's attacks is the same as the earlier ones," said Gen Mbai, adding that the remains of backpacks had also been found at the scene of the blasts.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
However, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Bali - a predominantly Hindu island popular with Western tourists - represents a soft and tempting target for Islamist extremists linked to al-Qaeda.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed that those responsible will be caught.
"We will hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice."
The government on Sunday placed the capital, Jakarta, on maximum alert deploying extra forces at embassies and other strategic locations.
Police say there were three blasts, which happened almost simultaneously just before 2000 local time (1200GMT) on Saturday.
Most of those killed were Indonesian, but casualties are also believed to include people from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the US.
A British tourist who was in a building next door to the restaurant that was hit in Kuta said there was a "thunderous boom" that caused all the shop's windows to blow out.
The blasts come less than two weeks before the third anniversary of massive bomb attacks that killed 202 people - including 88 Australians.
JI, the group blamed for the 12 October 2002 bombings, is also suspected of being behind a suicide bombing at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003, and a suicide bombing at the Australian embassy last September.
The authorities had warned that militants had been planning further attacks on Western targets in Indonesia, although there had been no particular alerts over the past few days.
Bali Bombing Suspects Linked to al-Qaida
Sunday October 2, 2005
AP Photo JAK103
By IRWAN FIRDAUS
Associated Press Writer
BALI, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia said Sunday it suspected two fugitives linked to al-Qaida had masterminded the suicide bombings of crowded restaurants in tourist resorts on the Indonesian island of Bali which killed at least 26 people and injured more than 100.
Maj. Gen. Ansyaad Mbai, a top Indonesian anti-terror official, identified the two suspected masterminds as Malaysians alleged to be key members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group. They are also accused of orchestrating the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, as well as two other attacks in the Indonesian capital in 2003 and 2004. The nightclub bombings, which also struck venues crowded with tourists on a Saturday night, killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.
In the latest attacks, three suicide bombers wearing explosive vests set off near-simultaneous explosions that devastated three restaurants crowded with diners on Saturday night.
"The modus operandi of Saturday's attacks is the same as the earlier ones," said Mbai, who identified the two suspected masterminds as Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top.
He said the two were not believed to be among the three suicide attackers. The assailants' remains were found at the bombing scenes but they have not yet been identified, he said.
"I have seen them. All that is left is their head and feet," he told The Associated Press. "By the evidence we can conclude the bombers were carrying the explosives around their waists."
Video footage of one of the blasts showed groups of tourists, many of them apparently Westerners, seated at candlelit tables talking and sipping drinks in the seconds before the explosion. The footage, obtained by Associated Press Television News, then shows a bright flash accompanied by a loud bang and gusts of black smoke.
It was not immediately clear whether the three suicide bombers were included in the death toll which climbed to 26 on Sunday, according to Sanglah Hospital spokesman Putu Putra Wisada. Six Americans were among the injured.
Long lines formed at checkout counters at Bali's international airport with a steady stream of taxis dropping off passengers.
"We were up all night trying to change our ticket," said Veli-Matti Enqvist, 51, who had been scheduled to leave Bali with his wife on Wednesday. The couple was walking on the beach when they heard the blasts. "We finally found something ... we're going."
After the 2002 bombings, there was an immediate and massive evacuation of foreign visitors which devastated the island's tourist industry.
The latest bombings struck two seafood cafes in the Jimbaran beach resort and a three-story noodle and steakhouse in downtown Kuta. Kuta is the bustling tourist center of Bali where the two nightclubs were bombed three years ago.
The latest attacks came a month after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned of possible terrorist attacks. On Saturday, he blamed terrorists and warned that more attacks were possible. The president was in Bali on Sunday to see the devastation firsthand.
"We will hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice," he said.
Western and Indonesian intelligence agencies have warned repeatedly that Jemaah Islamiyah was plotting more attacks in the world's most populous Muslim country. Last month, Yudhoyono said he was especially worried the extremist network was about to strike.
"I received information at the time that terrorists were planning an action in Jakarta and that explosives were ready," he said Saturday.
Dozens of people, most of them Indonesian, waited in tears outside the morgue in Sanglah Hospital, near the island's capital Denpasar, for news of friends and relatives missing since the attacks.
One Australian and a Japanese citizen were among those killed, along with 12 Indonesians. Hospital officials were trying to identify the other victims.
The 101 wounded included 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Americans, six Koreans, four Japanese, officials said.
The White House condemned the "attack aimed at innocent people taking their evening meal."
"We also express our solidarity with the government of Indonesia and convey our readiness to assist in any way," spokeswoman Erin Healy said.
The bombers struck at about 8 p.m. as thousands of diners flocked to restaurants in tourist areas on the bustling, mostly Hindu island, which was just starting to recover from the 2002 blasts.
The head waiter at the Menega Cafe said the bomb went off at his beachside restaurant between the tables of two large dinner parties, who were sitting in the sand. Most of the 120 diners at the restaurant were Indonesian, he said.
"Everyone started screaming "Allah, Allah, help!" said Wayan Subagia, 23, who escaped with injuries to his leg. "One woman rushed to pick up her child but the little girl was already dead."
Minutes later he heard another blast at the Nyoman seafood restaurant, about 50 yards away.
At almost the same time about 18 miles away in Kuta, a bomb exploded at the three-story Raja restaurant in a bustling outdoor shopping center. The area includes a KFC fast-food restaurant, clothing stores and a tourist information center.
Smoke poured from the badly damaged building.
The bomb apparently went off on the restaurant's second floor, and an Associated Press reporter saw at least three bodies and five wounded people there.
Before the 2002 bombings, Bali enjoyed a reputation for peace and tranquility, an exception in a country wracked for years by ethnic and separatist violence.
Courts on Bali have convicted dozens of militants for the blasts, and three suspects were sentenced to death.
Since the 2002 attacks, Jemaah Islamiyah has been tied to at least two other bombings in Indonesia, both in Jakarta. Those blasts, one outside the Australian Embassy in 2004 and the other at the J.W. Marriott hotel in 2003, killed at least 23.
The group's alleged spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been jailed for conspiracy in the 2002 attacks, through a spokesman denied any personal connection to the weekend explosions. There was no statement from the group, which wants to establish an Islamic state across Southeast Asia.
Tape captures bomber among tourists
South-east Asia's two most-wanted men appear to have masterminded the suicide attacks on three crowded restaurants on the Indonesian island of Bali, officials have said, as a chilling video showed a suspected bomber strolling past diners moments before one of the blasts.
Twenty-six people were killed and another 100 wounded in the Saturday night carnage.
The al Qaida-linked Malaysian fugitives, who were allegedly behind twin nightclub bombings on Bali in 2002, and two later attacks in the capital Jakarta, appear to have struck again, said Maj Gen Ansyaad Mbai, a top Indonesian anti-terror official.
"The modus operandi of Saturday's attacks is the same," he said, adding that Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top were not among the suspected bombers, whose decapitated remains were found at the scenes. All three were believed to be fitted with explosive belts, police say.
Video footage captures one of the suspected bombers walking determinedly past local and foreign tourists who are eating dinner, sipping drinks and chatting at candlelit tables at a noodle-and-steak restaurant in the bustling tourist centre of Kuta.
He clutches his backpack, adjusts it slightly, and then disappears from the screen. Moments later there is a large blast, followed by smoke and the sound of terrified screams.
Police said the video was part of their investigation.
No-one claimed responsibility for the co-ordinated attacks on two packed seafood cafes in the Jimbaran beach resort and the Raja Cafe - scene of the video footage - in downtown Kuta.
But suspicion immediately fell on the south-east Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, whose members were convicted of the attacks on the Bali nightclubs three years ago that killed 202 people, and attacks on the Marriott hotel and the Australian Embassy, which together killed 22.
Scores of Jemaah Islamiyah suspects have been arrested in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand since 2002, leading some officials to say the group's leadership has been crippled. But analysts say it appears to have taken on a different form, working with recruits from other organisations or groups.
MIM: The problem is not Indonesia's lax anti terrorism laws, it is that Indonesia, one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, (together with Malaysia), is not cracking down on terrorism because Muslims cannot act against fellow Muslims according to shari'a law, and that many in power support the terrorists agenda of establishing an Islamic State across Southeast Asia and share the terrorists opposition to what they see as the Westernisation of Indonesia which is epitomised by the tourist industry on Bali. The recent terrorist attacks on the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheik which targetted clubs and resturants catering to foreigners was another case of Al Qaeda orchestrated 'anti infidel' terrorism directed at soft targets, and to 'punish'fellow Muslims for profiting from and mingling with Westerners.
What the article below fails to mention is that Abu Bakr Bashir, the mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings , was given a 30 month sentence which was later reduced by 4 months and 5 days, and that Ali Imron, an accomplice was seen at a Starbucks in the company of the Jakarta police chief Gorrie Meres, who had taken him for an evening out. The Starbucks visit was immortalised in posters which showed the terrorist with a Starbucks logo in the background.
Tougher Indon terror laws 'needed'
THE Indonesian Government should follow Australia's lead and adopt tougher anti-terror laws, a survivor of the 2002 Bali bombings said today.
The states and territories last week backed Commonwealth anti-terror laws that would hand police unprecedented new powers, including the right to detain suspects as young as 16 for up to 14 days without charge.
Overnight at least 32 people, including one Australian and possibly more, were killed and more than 100 injured in bomb blasts ripped through Jimbaran and Kuta beach area in Bali.
Peter Hughes, who suffered horrific burns to 54 per cent of his body in the 2002 bombings, said he believed "absolutely" that a tougher approach was also required in Indonesia.
"You can have your libertarians and that sort of people saying you can't do this and you can't do that, but let's have a look and see what's going on," Mr Hughes told AAP.
"Innocent people are still dying."
He described terrorism as the third world war.
"I think Indonesia, and I think all countries should have the same sort of laws," he said.
"These people need to be brought to bear and they are getting away with it big time."
Mr Hughes said he felt empty when he learned of the latest terror attack in Bali.
"I felt, when my son rang me, that it was good that I wasn't there but I also felt I wish I was there so I could help out because of what happened to me," he said.
"Hopefully they are all OK.
"If they are OK I am sure there are a lot of people over there looking after them.
"I know I was very, very well looked after in the short time I was there after the bombs and I think that they just need to stay positive."
He said Australians would be wise to stay away from Bali in the short-term at least.
Southeast Asia, Islamists
What is Jemaah Islamiyah?
Jemaah Islamiyah (J.I.) is a militant Islamist group active in several Southeast Asian countries that's seeking to establish a pan-Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia. Anti-terror authorities struck a blow against Jemaah Islamiyah ("Islamic Organization" in Arabic) when they arrested its operational chief, Nurjaman Riduan Ismuddin, a.k.a Hambali, in Thailand in August 2003. J.I. is alleged to have attacked or plotted against U.S. and Western targets in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Have authorities pursued Jemaah Islamiyah?
Indonesian officials have jailed several members of the group for allegedly planning an October 12, 2002, bombing that killed 202 people at a Bali nightclub. J.I. is also suspected in the August 5, 2003, car bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 and the September 9, 2004, attack, which apparently targeted the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Before the Bali bombing, Indonesian authorities had not aggressively investigated the group, though Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines had cracked down on it. After the Bali attack, the United States—which suspects the group of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network—designated Jemaah Islamiyah a foreign terrorist organization.
Has Jemaah Islamiyah targeted Americans or American interests?
Yes. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said in January 2003 that "information indicates that Hambali was involved in a 1995 plot to bomb 11 U.S. commercial airliners in Asia and directed the late-2001 foiled plot to attack U.S. and Western interests in Singapore."
Why hadn't the United States designated Jemaah Islamiyah a foreign terrorist organization before the Bali bombing?
Because of reluctance to anger Indonesian public sentiment. While Singapore and Malaysia would have supported adding the group to Washington's list earlier, the United States had been trying to secure Indonesia's cooperation on the war on terror without alienating its Muslim political parties or undermining its moderate president, Megawati Sukarnoputri. The Bali bombing spurred Indonesia to acknowledge the extent of its terrorism problem, and the U.S. designation followed. Listing J.I. as a foreign terrorist organization restricts the group's finances and its members' travel.
Where does Jemaah Islamiyah operate?
Across Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and possibly the Philippines and Thailand. Weak central authority, lax or corrupt law enforcement, and open maritime borders in some of these countries ease J.I.'s ability to operate throughout the region.
How big is Jemaah Islamiyah?
We don't know. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has described it as "an extremist group with cells operating throughout Southeast Asia." The State Department estimated in late 2002 that J.I. has several hundred operatives. It is unclear how crackdowns in several countries since the Bali bombings have affected the group.
When was Jemaah Islamiyah founded?
The name Jemaah Islamiyah dates to the late 1970s, but experts aren't certain if the name referred to a formal organization or an informal gathering of like-minded Muslim radicals—or a government label for Islamist malcontents. The group has its roots in Darul Islam, a violent radical movement that advocated the establishment of Islamic law in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country and also home to Christians, Hindus, and adherents of other faiths. Darul Islam sprang up as the country emerged from Dutch colonial rule in the late 1940s, and its followers continued to resist the postcolonial Indonesian republic, which it saw as too secular.
Who is the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah?
Abu Bakar Bashir, an Indonesian of Yemeni descent, is thought to be the group's spiritual leader—and, some speculate, an operational leader as well. Bashir joined Darul Islam in the 1970s and was imprisoned in Indonesia for Islamist activism. In 1985, after a court ordered him back to prison, Bashir fled to Malaysia. There, he recruited volunteers to fight in the anti-Soviet Muslim brigades in Afghanistan and sought funding from Saudi Arabia while maintaining connections with former colleagues in Indonesia.
After the Indonesian dictator Suharto stepped down in 1998, Bashir returned home to run a pesantren—a Muslim seminary—in Solo, on the Muslim-majority island of Java. He also took up leadership of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council, an Islamist umbrella group. Bashir has denied involvement in terrorism. Following the October 2002 Bali bombing, Indonesian officials demanded Bashir submit to questioning about that and earlier attacks. In 2003, he was convicted of treason, but the charge was soon after overturned by the Jakarta High Court and, in April 2004, Bashir was released from prison. Citing new evidence, Indonesia authorities re-arrested Bashir the same day. He is currently in detention awaiting trial on charges of treason and participation in the Bali and other bombings.
Who are the other leadership figures?
U.S. and Asian intelligence officials say that Hambali played a key leadership role in the organization. He was J.I.'s operational chief, they say, and was closely involved in several terrorist plots. U.S. officials announced August 14, 2003, that he was arrested by Thai authorities in Ayutthaya, about 60 miles north of Bangkok, and handed over to the Central Intelligence Agency. The U.S. State Department says Hambali is the head of Jemaah Islamiyah's regional shura, its policy-making body, and is suspected of being al Qaeda's operations director for East Asia.
The State Department in January 2003 froze Hambali's assets and the assets of another suspected terrorist, Mohamad Iqbal Abdurraham, a.k.a. Abu Jibril. The department said that, until his arrest in Malaysia in June 2001, Abu Jibril was "Jemaah Islamiyah's primary recruiter and second-in-command."
What prior attacks has Jemaah Islamiyah been linked to?
The group—or individuals affiliated with it—is thought to be tied to several terrorist plots. Among them:
- The August 2003 car bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.
- The October 2002 bombing of a nightclub on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists from Australia and elsewhere. Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, a 41-year-old mechanic from East Java, was convicted on August 8, 2003, for buying the vehicle used in the main explosion and buying and transporting most of the chemicals used for the explosives. He was the first of 33 suspects arrested for the bombings to be convicted.
- A December 2000 wave of church bombings in Indonesia that killed 18. Asian and U.S. officials say Hambali had a hand in these attacks, and Indonesian officials arrested J.I. leader Bashir for questioning in connection with this anti-Christian campaign.
- A December 2000 series of bombings in Manila that killed 22. The State Department says Hambali helped plan these attacks. Fathur Rahman al-Ghozi, a Bashir follower, reportedly confessed to a role in the bombings. In April 2002, he was convicted in the Philippines on unrelated charges of possessing explosives.
- A 1995 plot to bomb 11 U.S. commercial airliners in Asia that, the State Department says, Hambali helped plan.
Jemaah Islamiyah has also been linked to aborted plans to attack U.S., British, and Australian embassies in Singapore.
Does Jemaah Islamiyah have links to al Qaeda?
Probably, but experts disagree on the extent of them. Some U.S. officials and terrorism experts suspect that J.I. is a subdivision of al Qaeda capable of opening a second front against U.S. interests in Southeast Asia. Other experts argue that the two are not that closely linked and add that Jemaah Islamiyah's regional goals do not fully match al Qaeda's global aspirations. Bashir denies the group has ties to al Qaeda, but he has expressed support for Osama bin Laden. A Qaeda operative arrested in Indonesia reportedly told U.S. investigators that Bashir was directly involved in Qaeda plots.
At the very least, a few individuals have been linked to both groups. Hambali is the Jemaah Islamiyah leader thought to be most closely linked to al Qaeda. He allegedly has been involved in several terrorist attacks and plots in the region. Some experts say he may have delegated some of his operational responsibilities while he was being pursued by Indonesian and other intelligence services. Other individuals with suspected ties to both al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah have been detained in the region, and some have been turned over to U.S. investigators.
How have Southeast Asian countries dealt with Jemaah Islamiyah?
It varies. Singapore and Malaysia, two countries with strong central governments, have outlawed the group and arrested suspected members. The Philippines, which has struggled to contain Abu Sayyaf, another local Islamist militant group with suspected Qaeda ties, has also pursued Jemaah Islamiyah. These three countries have shared intelligence with the United States and sometimes turned over suspects. By comparison, Indonesia had done little until the Bali bombing.
How has Indonesia dealt with Jemaah Islamiyah?
Following the September 11 attacks, the government spent months resisting pressure from its neighbors and the United States to detain alleged J.I. leaders. Many Indonesian authorities questioned whether the group even existed. Indonesia also resisted U.S. and Asian government requests to arrest Hambali, then J.I.'s suspected operations leader, and he eventually went underground.
Some Indonesian officials said that targeting the extremist group could generate public sympathy for it and help build a following for Bashir and J.I. in the otherwise largely moderate Muslim country. Indonesia watchers said the government was also worried about appearing to cave in to U.S. demands and so antagonize Islamic political parties. Following the Bali bombing, however, Indonesia changed its tune, passing new antiterrorism legislation and ordering Bashir's arrest.