Western embassies threatened with attacks ahead of Bali bomber executions
November 4, 2008
Bomb threats to embassies ahead of Bali executions
color-999">(AFP Photo/Adek Berry)
color-666">Militants have descended on the village of two of the bombers threatening revenge for their deathsWestern embassies were threatened with explosions today as Indonesia braced itself for the execution by firing squad of the three men who bombed two Bali nightclubs in 2002, killing hundreds of people, most of them foreign tourists. The US and Australian embassies in the capital, Jakarta, reported finding no bombs after a warning was sent to the Indonesian police. "I have put TNT bombs around the US and Australian embassies," the mobile telephone text message said. "I will pull the trigger if Amrozi and his friends are executed." But security forces were on alert across the country after indications that the three Bali bombers – Amrozi Nurhashyim, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra – could be executed any day now after the failure of their final appeal last month. The execution – by rifles aimed at the heart from close range – could be as early as the early hours of Wednesday. But the authorities may decide to avoid potential embarrassment, and any security scares for a VIP guest, and wait until the departure of the Prince of Wales, who leaves Indonesia tomorrow at the end of a five day trip. Armed police and barbed wire have been put in place at Cilacap, the port of embarkation for the prison island of Kambangan, where the three bombers are being held in a high security prison. Even relatives have been barred from crossing to the island, although they were allowed to pass on gifts of food through prison guards. The head of the prison said that the men appeared to be composed and prepared for death. "They're in good condition, healthy," Bambang Winahyo told Agence France Presse. "It seems they're facing this calmly." The great majority of Indonesia's two hundred million Muslims are practitioners of a moderate and tolerant faith, but the country's vast size and huge population have fostered a small but violent hardcore of violent fundamentalists. It was the Indonesian cell of a south-east Asian militant group known as Jemaah Islamiyah which planned the three explosions in the resort town of Kuta six years ago, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 24 Britons. Today a few dozen Islamic radicals gathered in the village of Tenggulun in East Java where Amrozi and his brother Ali Gufron, also known as Mulkhlas, grew up. They hung out black flags with religious inscriptions in Arabic inscriptions and chanted "Free Amrozi! Destroy America!" "There are hundreds of us waiting to come...If Amrozi is executed a thousand more will come," said one member of the group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) or Partisans of the Oneness of God, a man named Abdulrahim. "We reject the executions, they are murder," said another JAT activist, Mujazzin Marzuki. "They were carrying out jihad (holy war) in the way of Islam. Don't wake the wild, cruel tiger from its sleep!" he said. None of the three bombers, who were sentenced to death in 2003, have ever expressed any regret for the attack, except to say that they are sorry there were Muslim victims. Imam Samudra, known as the "smiling bomber" said earlier this month: "I don't ask for forgiveness from infidels, I only ask for forgiveness from Muslims." They have never asked for clemency and spoken proudly of their wish to die as martyrs. But their lawyers have repeatedly attempted to delay the execution whenever it has appeared imminent. Even today a court in Cilacap received a three page appeal from lawyers for the condemned men, on the grounds that they had not been properly notified of the failure of their last petition. Muhammad Chozin – one of the brothers of Amrozi and Ali Gufron – said that the bombers were looking forward to their execution. "We're mentally prepared because my brothers will experience extraordinary joy as they stand up for their religion and receive the title of mujahid [holy warrior]," he said. The Australian government has advised its citizens to "reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack". The British Foreign Office merely advises caution. "As elsewhere in Indonesia you should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people," its travel advice for Indonesia reads. "If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately."