Fears execution of Bali bombers will encourage militants

 

AL-QAEDA SUPPORTERS in Indonesia may launch attacks against foreigners in retaliation for the firing-squad execution of three of the Bali bombers, the British foreign office has warned.

Protests spread when the prisoners were taken from their death-row cells on the prison island of Nusakambagan shortly before midnight on Saturday.

Amrozi Nurhasyim (47), his brother Ali Ghufron (48), and Imam Samudra (38) were tied to posts and each killed with a single shot to the heart, according to the office of Indonesia's attorney general. They had asked not to be blindfolded.

In total, 202 people died on October 12th, 2002, when nightclubs full of tourists on Bali's Kuta strip were hit by twin blasts.

Susanna Miller, of the Bali Bombing Victims Group, feared the executions would only encourage Islamist militancy. "It . . . provides a state-sponsored route to martyrdom," she said.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who lost his brother in the attacks, said the man accused of masterminding the plot, Hambali, was now sitting in Guantánamo Bay and had not been put on trial.

"British citizens affected by the Bali terrorist attack received no compensation from the British government," Mr Ellwood added. "There is no compensation scheme available to Britons affected by overseas terrorism, even though the UK paid compensation to all the injured regardless of nationality following the London 7/7 bombings."

The British foreign office's travel advice website for Indonesia, updated early yesterday, warned that "the executions could prompt strong reactions from [the executed men's] supporters, including violent demonstrations which could escalate without notice. Retaliatory attacks against Indonesian government or foreign targets are possible."

The areas where it advised against "all but essential travel" were central Sulawesi and Malaku provinces, the scene of continued Christian-Muslim tension.

The Australian department of foreign affairs issued a starker warning to its citizens: "We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack."

Thousands of Islamist supporters of the Bali bombers scuffled with police yesterday as the three executed men were given emotional funerals in their home villages on the island of Java.

The three men expressed no remorse, saying they wanted to die as "martyrs" for their cause of establishing an Islamic caliphate across southeast Asia.

As the bodies of Nurhasyim - who was dubbed the "smiling bomber" because of his courtroom antics - and Ghufron arrived at their local mosque, supporters clashed briefly with security forces. Many had waited for days, standing in the rain and praying, as the date of the execution had been kept secret.

There were similar scenes on the return of Imam Samudra's remains. His body was delivered, wrapped in a black shroud bearing Islamic inscriptions, under the gaze of around 3,000 supporters.

"Looking at this I feel sad, but then I am also proud that he is a mujahid [Islamic warrior]," said Nuranda, a woman who offered her condolences to his family.

Security across the country was stepped up at shopping malls and tourist haunts because of fears that radicals would heed the bombers' exhortation to carry out retaliatory attacks.

In Bali an extra 3,500 police were deployed to patrol the streets. There have also been a number of bomb hoax threats aimed at the Australian and US embassies. - ( Guardianservice)