An Indonesian militant charged in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks told interrogators he spent weeks holed up in a rented house, painstakingly building a half-tonne bomb using household items including a rice ladle, a grocer’s scale and plastic bags.
A transcript of Umar Patek’s interrogation offers extraordinary detail of the Bali plot just days before Patek — a radical Islamist once Southeast Asia’s most-wanted bomb-making suspect — goes on trial in Jakarta for his alleged role in the nightclub attack that killed 202 people.
Patek, known as “Demolition Man” for his expertise with explosives, says he and other conspirators stashed the 700kg bomb in four filing cabinets, loaded them in a Mitsubishi L300 van along with a TNT vest bomb. The van was detonated outside two nightclubs on Bali’s famous Kuta beach on Oct. 12, 2002. Most of those killed were foreign tourists.
The suspect told police that a small explosion occurred when they were loading the bomb in a van, nearly derailing the plot, according to the transcript.
Although homemade bombs are easily assembled by militants all over the world, making such powerful devices as those used in Bali — and using such unsophisticated equipment — would have taken an enormous amount of care and expertise.
Patek, 45, goes on trial tomorrow following a nine-year flight from justice that took him from Indonesia to the Philippines to Pakistan, reportedly in pursuit of more terrorism opportunities.
He was finally caught in January last year, in the same Pakistani town where US Navy Seals would kill Osama bin Laden just a few months later. Patek was hiding out in a second-floor room in a house in Abbottabad, a US$1 million bounty on his head, when Pakistani security forces, acting on a tip from the CIA, burst in.
After a firefight that left Patek wounded, he was captured and extradited to Indonesia.
His capture was seen as a yardstick of the successes that Asian security forces, with US help, have achieved against Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the al-Qaeda-linked regional terror group blamed for the Bali bombings and several other attacks in Indonesia. All its other leaders have been executed, killed by security forces, or are on death row.
Patek is charged with premeditated murder, hiding information about terrorism, illegal possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit terrorism, and now faces a possible death sentence as well. The indictment also accuses Patek of providing explosives for a string of Christmas Eve attacks on churches in 2000 that claimed 19 lives.
Interviews with intelligence officials in Indonesia and the Philippines, the interrogation report and other documents reveal the peripatetic life Patek led after the Bali attacks as he ranged widely and freely, often without passing through immigration checks, while allegedly passing along his bomb-making skills to other terrorists.
The interviewed officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss intelligence matters with reporters.
Patek, whose real name is Hisyam bin Alizein, is the son of a goat meat trader. He went to computer school and learned English before being recruited into JI by Dulmatin, a fellow militant who was gunned down by Indonesian police in March 2010.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut