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 Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 13:14 GMT
Tracking down the Bali bombers
Bachtiar (L) talks to terror suspect Amrozi (R) at Denpasar Police headquarters, Bali
In the aftermath of the attacks in Mombassa it emerged today that Australia issued a warning two weeks before about the risk of terrorism in Kenya.

Australia has learned the value of such intelligence the hard way - dozens of Australians were killed in the attack on Bali.

So far, two men considered directly responsible for the Bali attack have been arrested.

Phil Rees was given special access to the Indonesian investigation, allowing him to follow the trail of the bombers.

This is Paddy's Bar where the small bombs exploded inside. And then after that, all the people going out. And six seconds after that, the second bomb exploded in front of the Sari Cafe and killed many people. The intention of these perpetrators, of course, was to kill as many as people as possible...

The investigation is led by General Made Pastika.

This is the road here and this is the crater here at the Sari Club.

More than 100 police from abroad joined Pastika's team, from Britain, America and Australia, where most of the victims were from. At first, investigators had little success. Then a breakthrough by a forensic team led to a crucial arrest.

Like many Indonesians here, it's just one name, Amrozi. According to police, after 40 hours of questioning, he admitted his role in the bombing and said he'd been a "naughty person".

This is the story of his confession.

Amrozi went to Solo on Indonesia's main island, Java. It was mid-August. It was in this busy market that the plot began taking shape. Amrozi was sitting at one of these tables when he was joined by three men. One of them was Imam Samudra, the man who had recruited him. Samudra told Amrozi that the target would be somewhere in Bali.

From here in Solo, Amrozi followed a path that would take him a month later to Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club and to the slaughter of nearly 200 people.

For the next two hours, the men drove around the city to avoid detection. Samudra gave Amrozi just over 3,000 and told him to buy a van and explosives. The bombers believed their target would be American rather than Australian tourists.

They agreed they have to attack the American interests in Indonesia.

He actually believed he was going to kill Americans in Bali? Because there are very few American tourists in Bali.

Yeah. But you know, for Indonesians, sometimes, they cannot distinguish between Americans or English or...

Or Australians?

Or Australians. Even me, before they speak.

From Solo, Amrozi returned to his village, Tenggulun, to begin his preparations. Amrozi lived with his wife in a comfortable though modest house. He looked after his elderly parents. His father is disabled. Amrozi worked as a mechanic. This is the garage Amrozi used to use to repair motorcycles in the village. I can just see, just behind there, the red motorcycle that he owned.

In September, he bought the mini-van that would later carry the bomb to the Sari Club. Shortly afterwards, Amrozi drove to Surabaya to buy the explosives.

My translator and I found the shop where he loaded his van with one tonne of the volatile chemical, ammonium chlorate.

That's the shop, the one. It's locked, but I think because they have been closed for two weeks.

The chemical is commonly used as a fertiliser, but when combined with other explosives, it becomes a lethal concoction.

On October 6th, Amrozi, Samudra and the rest of the bombing team boarded the ferry that connects Java with Bali and then drove to the capital, Denpasar. It was here that Amrozi took a sample of the explosive to another member of the team, the bomb maker.

The police are still gathering evidence from the site. It's believed it was here, in apartment number 6, that the decision was made to place one bomb inside Paddy's Bar and park Amrozi's mini-van, which contained the second much larger explosive, outside the Sari Club. The explosion was devastating.

We were going to go here tonight.

But Amrozi knew that, even amid the shattering scale of destruction, the chassis of his van would be recovered, including the identification number that would link him to the vehicle. He had hoped to bewilder the forensic team by first altering the numbers and then grinding them away. Unfortunately, this number has already been changed, the number 0 into 6 and the number 3 into 8.

We were almost frustrated because we couldn't find the right van, the right owner of the van, because they changed all the numbers, so the possibilities are very big.

But a key part of the plan was to fail. Amrozi's Mitsubishi van, similar to this model, had once been used as a bus. That meant that it had another identification number required for public transport. We are very lucky.

On 2nd November, through a re-check through the remnants, we found another number.

Do you think the bombers didn't know about this second number?

Yes, I think so.

That's why they didn't change it?

Yes, they didn't change it.

The police traced the ownership of the van to Amrozi. Soon he provided a detailed confession. Paraded in front of the media, he appeared pleased, even enjoying his notoriety. He is said to share jokes with prison guards. He believes his victims deserved to die.

There is no regret at all for him. He said that he's doing his duty.

Duty to whom?

From what he believes that he must do.

His duty to God?

Yes, that's according to him.

He shows no regret whatsoever?

No regret whatsoever. I think he's a very typical terrorist man, you know. He's very calm, very cool. And even, he feels proud of his experience. He was very happy the explosion is very big and successful.

November 21st.

After a week of surveillance, Imam Samudra was captured. Samudra has apparently confessed his role as organiser of the bombing unit. The police have now arrested five of the 12 suspects they believe bombed Bali.

So you have two of the key culprits, the people who drove the van, who drove the bomb there, and the person who made the bomb?

Who built it and maybe exploded it.

But you still don't know who was masterminding it?

The masterminder, not yet.

American intelligence agencies have pointed a finger of guilt at this man, a 64-year-old cleric who ran an Islamic school near Solo. They claim Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is the leader of a shadowy movement called the Jemaah Islamiah, or Islamic group.

After international pressure on the Indonesian authorities, Ba'asyir was arrested on charges relating to a separate series of attacks on churches two years ago. His message to students is that the United States is an enemy and Muslims, the victims of American aggression. It inspired Amrozi.

Amrozi said Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is one of his idols. All the teachings that he accepted as his beliefs too. That's all for the moment. We cannot so far, because we don't have significant evidence to connect the bombing in Bali that one of the perpetrators was Amrozi, to Abu Bakar Ba'asyir so far, not yet.

More than two weeks after Amrozi's arrest, police returned to examine evidence in his house in the village of Tenggulun. It was discovered that blood ties were central to the plot to bomb Bali. Amrozi's younger brother is one of the 12 suspected of carrying out the bombing. Amrozi is on the right of this family snapshot. In the middle, his elder brother, the person he most admired, Muklas.

Muklas is now suspected of having close ties to Al-Qaeda. Indonesian intelligence believes he has replaced Hambali as the mastermind behind Al-Qaeda's operations in the region.

We have information that Muklas is now acting and replacing Hambali's position, which means that now he has become the co-ordinator for the Al-Qaeda network in South-East Asia.

So Amrozi's brother is essentially now the most important Al-Qaeda operative in South-East Asia?

Yes, we heard that and we share the information from our office in the region.

Other agencies?

Other agency in the region.

Villages like Tenggulun are no longer isolated from the influence of Islam elsewhere in the world. The root to militancy led Amrozi and his brothers to Malaysia, where the cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was then in exile, and on to Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban.

Tenggulun also has an Islamic boarding school. It was founded by another of Amrozi's brothers. It follows an Islamic tradition imported from Saudi Arabia, rather than the more liberal Indonesian interpretation. The head of the school believes Amrozi is no different to many others growing up in the village, sharing a common resentment of the United States.


Yeah, Amrozi is just like any other person. There is nothing special about him. I think Americans should learn and listen more, to understand why Muslims always suffer.

The school has no proven links to the men who bombed Bali, but many who teach and study here are angry about the plight of Muslims around the world.

While the police may succeed in capturing the remaining bombers, the investigation will not explain why a child growing up in Tenggulun became a man proud to kill in the name of his God.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

  Phil Rees
was given special access to the police investigation into the Bali attack, allowing him to trace the trail of the bombers.

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