Bali bomber proud of his skills, begged for forgiveness

BALI (Indonesia): An Indonesian who admitted building the bombs that killed over 200 people in Bali last year said yesterday he was proud of his group's skills but now felt sorry for the victims and begged for forgiveness. 

Ali Imron, one of the main suspects held by Indonesian police investigating the Oct 12 bombings, told a news conference that while the majority of victims had been Australian tourists, the real target had been the United States. 

“Our target is America and its allies because they are the international terrorists,” Imron told a news conference at which he also showed reporters how one of the bombs was assembled. 

Unlike judicial systems in the West, Indonesian authorities often give media or members of the public considerable access to suspects. 

Police have linked the Bali attack to Southeast Asia's Jemaah Islamiah Muslim militant group, which several countries have in turn tied to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. 

“I vow as a Muslim that what happened in Bali was purely from our group,” he said, without specifying which organisation. 

“Nobody backed us nor sponsored us. Our ability is something to be proud of.” 

Clad in blue prison garb, holding a microphone and walking nonchalantly around the news conference, Imron appeared more like a travelling salesman as he showed off a replica of the car bomb that ripped through the packed Sari Club after 48 boxes of explosives were detonated. 

Imron said 900kg of potassium chlorate, 150kg of sulphur and 75kg of aluminium was used to create the van bomb. He said the jacket bomb was assembled by a Malaysian called Azhari who is being sought by police. 

But Imron said he now regretted the deaths the explosions caused. 

“I am remorseful. I regret this and I beg forgiveness from the families of the victims, from Indonesia and from other countries,” he said. 

The case's chief investigator, I Made Mangku Pastika, said the public visibility of the probe yesterday was meant to dispel doubts that the results of the investigation were being fabricated. 

Imron said he learnt his bomb-making skills while participating in the Mujahideen struggle against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan. 

He also admitted links to militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged leader of the Jemaah Islamia, but said he believed the elderly cleric was not involved in the Bali operation. 

Bashir, in custody as a suspect for other bombings in Indonesia, has denied the existence of the group or any involvement in any terror attacks. 

“I admit structurally I am under (Bashir's) leadership. But in this case I never followed his order,” Imron said. “I think he is not involved but I think he knows.” – Agencies  

  • Another perspective from The Jakarta Post, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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