Bali attackers: for Islam, are they heroes or criminals?
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Contrasting reactions among Indonesian Muslims to the news of the execution, set for early November, of the three people responsible for the massacre in Bali in 2002, in which more than 200 people died. If some of the fundamentalist Koranic schools celebrate the attackers as "heroes" and pioneers of the "holy war," others define the attack as "a disproportionate response" to the oppression of the Islamic world, and stigmatize the killing of innocent people.
Last October 24, General Bambang Hendarso Danuri, Indonesia's chief of police, confirmed that the elite police corps, which goes by the name of Brimob, is making final preparations to proceed with the execution of Amrozi, Imam Samudra, and Ali Gufron, Amrozi's older brother, also known as Mukhias. "They will face the firing squad in early November,” says General Danuri, without giving an exact date. He also says that the three men have asked personally to have their bodies buried in their home town. For Amrozi and Mukhlas, that is in Lamongan in the province of East Java, and for Imam Samudra, in Serang, in the province of Banten.
General Danuri confirms that there has been a general reinforcement in security measures in the country; new "sensitive targets" are under observation, added to the places where there are American citizens or institutions, the possible targets of terrorist attacks. On October 21, the security forces stopped an attack on a large fuel depot north of the capital.
Amrozi's relatives say they want to visit him "for the last time" at the maximum-security prison of Nusakambangan, in the district of Cilacap; Lulu Jamaluddin, Imam Samudra's younger brother, reiterates his absolute innocence: "I strongly believe that the bombing attack was not done by them,” he says.
A growing number of Indonesian Muslims are speaking out in support of Amrozi and his companions. The students of the Islamic school Darusy Syahadah are expressing their solidarity, calling them "holy warriors." "They are like us, they wanted to do good deeds," says one 18-year-old student, Nawawi. Experts on terrorism explained that the Koranic school of Darusy Syahadah has long been a center for recruiting and indoctrination for Jemaah Islamiah, the Indonesian fundamentalist group connected to al Qaeda. Its graduates include Salik Firdaus, the suicide attacker who blew himself up in Bali in 2005, killing 20 people.
Experts on international terrorism emphasize, however, that the situation in the country is much more "complex and intricate," and that support for the struggle advocated by Jemaah Islamiah has collapsed after the repeated attacks that have caused numerous deaths among civilians. In fact, many schools, although they support "holy war," have come under the influence of the government policy aimed at "uprooting" terrorism, which has partly stemmed the bloodshed. The principal of the Darusy Syahadah Islamic school, Mustaquim, confirms that the motivations behind the suicide attacks are "noble," but the "method" is wrong.
The Koranic school al-Mukmin, in Ngriki, founded by the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir, is paying homage to the terrorists, but the opinions there are at odds. According to fundamentalist leader Bashir, the 2002 attack in Bali was the result of a "micro-nuclear" device planted by the CIA, because the bomb set off by Amrozi and his companions only "shattered glass and didn't wound people, or at most wounded them a little." But the headmaster of the school, Wahyudin, expresses a different opinion, calling the indiscriminate bombing attacks at bars and nightclubs on the island of Bali a disproportionate response to the global oppression of Muslims.