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Q&A: Bali bomber on crime, punishment, and what motivated lethal assault | Battle Information

East Java, IndonesiaUmar Patek was launched from jail final December after serving simply over half of a 20-year jail sentence for the Bali vacation island bombings in 2002, which killed 202 folks. He was additionally convicted for a sequence of bomb assaults on Christian church buildings on Christmas Eve, 2000, that left 18 useless.

On the run for nearly a decade, 57-year-old Patek from Central Java was arrested in 2011 in Abbottabad in Pakistan and extradited to Indonesia the place he was discovered responsible of bomb making and homicide the next 12 months. The US State Division had provided a reward of $1m for any data resulting in his seize.

Patek’s early jail launch for good behaviour in 2022 was sharply criticised by Australian officers and the kinfolk of the tons of of victims of the Bali bombing.

Al Jazeera just lately interviewed Patek at his residence in East Java the place he spoke about his position in Bali and revealed that the horrific bomb assault twenty years in the past was an act of revenge for the violence inflicted on Palestinian folks by Israeli forces.

He additionally talked about repentance and of being uncertain whether or not God would forgive him for killing so many civilians.

Umar Patek at his home in East Java, Indonesia, on October 14, 2023 [Al Jazeera]
Umar Patek at his residence in East Java, Indonesia, on October 14, 2023 [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera: How did you grow to be concerned with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the armed group behind the Bali Bombings? 

Umar Patek: In 1991, I used to be working in Malaysia and met Mukhlas [a senior JI figure who was sentenced to death and executed in 2008 for masterminding the Bali bombings] in Johor Bahru on the Lukman Hakim Islamic Boarding Faculty.

I labored on a plantation in Malaysia, and would go to spiritual lessons within the night on the college. Then Mukhlas requested me to work on the college, so I moved in. After three months on the college, he provided me the possibility to go to Pakistan. I wished to check and he stated I may research faith there.

I first went to Peshawar after which to Sadda, a tribal space in Pakistan which is near the border with Afghanistan, the place there was a army academy that skilled folks to be mujahideen [Islamic fighters]. From there I moved to a army academy in Torkham in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, I used to be in the identical class as [Bali bomber] Ali Imron. In complete, I used to be away for 5 years from 1991 to 1995.

We discovered all the pieces on the army academy to coach us to be mujahideen, resembling find out how to use weapons, map studying and bomb making. We practised blowing up bombs in areas the place there have been no folks, like in caves or on hillsides, in order that there wouldn’t be any fatalities.

We additionally wished to make it possible for no goats had been by accident killed as a result of plenty of folks have a tendency goats in Afghanistan.


After I completed my army coaching in 1995, I went to the Philippines to hitch the Moro Islamic Liberation Entrance as a result of I supported their trigger as a Muslim.

From 1995 to 2000, I lived at Camp Abubakar within the Bangsamoro area within the Philippines, however the camp was captured by the Philippine Military in July 2000 and I used to be instructed to depart as a result of I regarded like I got here from the Center East.

My household is initially from Yemen, though I’m the fourth era of my household to be born in Indonesia. My face didn’t appear like the folks in Moro.

In December 2000, I went again to Indonesia and stayed with Dulmatin [a JI member and one of the most wanted men in Southeast Asia who was nicknamed “the Genius” because of his expertise in electronics for bombs]. Dulmatin requested me to go to Jakarta for work. He had a job promoting vehicles and he stated I may additionally search for work there, which is how I grew to become concerned within the Christmas Eve church bombings.

INDONESIAN POLICE PROVIDE SECURITY OUTSIDE JAKARTA'S MAIN CATHEDRAL THE DAY AFTER BOMB BLASTS ROCKED THE CITY. An Indonesian police officer provided security outside the capital's main Cathedral during morning mass December 25, 2000. Indonesia's Christians on Monday flocked to churches throughout the country hours after a spate of deadly Christmas bomb atttacks killed at least ten people in this predominantly Muslim country.
Indonesian cops present safety outdoors Jakarta’s primary cathedral throughout morning mass on Christmas Day, December 25, 2000, following a spate of lethal Christmas Eve bomb assaults in opposition to Christian church buildings [File: Reuters]

AJ: You admitted to mixing the chemical substances for the bombs used within the Bali bombing in 2002 and the Christmas Eve church bombings in 2000. However you additionally stated you didn’t know what the bombs could be used for. The place did you assume the bombs could be planted?

Patek: I didn’t combine the bombs for the church bombings, I solely knew in regards to the bombs on the time of supply. It was Eid al-Fitr [the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan] and Dulmatin stated, “Let’s go residence to Pemalang for the vacation and drop off some issues alongside the best way.”

We stored stopping at church buildings, though I didn’t get out of the automotive. Each time we stopped at a church, I grew extra suspicious that we had been dropping off bombs as a result of the packages had been packed in laptop computer baggage.

I used to be sentenced for the bombings regardless that I didn’t make the bombs or get out of the automotive as a result of I used to be there and I didn’t do something to cease it. Dulmatin then requested me to go on a visit to Bali in October 2002. We went right into a home which was already filled with bomb making gear.

A general view of the scene of a bomb blast at Kuta, on the Indonesian island of Bali, in this October 17, 2002 file photo five days after explosions in a popular night spot killed almost 200 people. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed May 1, 2011, in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan and his body was recovered, U.S. President Barack Obama said on May 1, 2011. "Justice has been done," Obama said in a dramatic, late-night White House speech announcing the death of the elusive mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/Files (INDONESIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS OBITUARY TRAVEL)
A common view of the scene of a bomb blast at Kuta, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on this October 17, 2002 photograph, taken 5 days after explosions in a preferred night time spot killed 202 folks [File: Reuters]

I met with [JI members] Imam Samudra, Mukhlas, Idris and Dr Azahari. Imam Samudra stated that they wished revenge for the occupation of Palestine and the assault on Jenin [by Israeli forces in 2002 which killed more than 50 Palestinians as well as 23 Israeli soldiers], in order that they wished to bomb Westerners in nightclubs in Bali. He ushered me into one of many rooms in the home the place all of the components to make the bombs had been ready.

I instructed them, if we wished to get revenge for the atrocities dedicated in opposition to Muslims in Palestine, we should always go to Palestine and never kill Westerners in Indonesia. I requested them, “What’s the relationship between these individuals who shall be victims and your motive of revenge for Muslims in Palestine?”

I instructed them that in the event that they wished to kill Westerners in massive numbers utilizing a one-tonne bomb, it could not simply kill the folks in entrance of it. It could explode all over the place. I instructed them that it could kill plenty of different individuals who weren’t their goal.

A Palestinian woman gestures on top of her house in the destroyed Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, April 28, 2002. A U.N. mission to find out what happened during Israel's three weeks military operation in Jenin refugee camp is waiting in Geneva for a green light to depart to the region.
A Palestinian lady gestures on high of her home within the destroyed Jenin refugee camp within the northern West Financial institution, following what grew to become generally known as the Battle of Jenin in April 2002 [File: Reuters]

I stated {that a} bomb would additionally seemingly trigger Muslim casualties. I requested them, “Who will take accountability within the subsequent world [paradise] if there are Muslim victims due to this bomb?”

Imam Samudra stated that, on the day of judgement, everybody could be judged individually for his or her actions based mostly on their intentions.

I felt that there was no manner I may refuse. Imam Samudra had locked the entrance door of the home in order that nobody may depart.

So I did it, and made the final 50kg [110lbs] of the bomb.

AJ: Greater than 200 folks died in Bali on account of the bomb you helped to make. How do you are feeling about killing so many individuals?

Patek: I felt responsible once I blended the supplies for the bomb and I felt I used to be sinning. I felt I used to be breaking Indonesian regulation however, greater than that, I felt it was a sin in opposition to God.

A Balinese mother and son mourn in front of the Bali Bombing Memorial during a commemorative service in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia in 2004
A Balinese mom and son mourn in entrance of the Bali Bombing Memorial throughout commemorative companies in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia in 2004 [File: Bea Beawiharta/CP/Reuters]

AJ: Do you think about your self to be a mass assassin?

Patek: Sure. I really feel that I’m a assassin and a sinner.

I’ve apologised to the victims of the Bali bombing a number of occasions and met with the households of the victims of the bombing, too. I instructed them I used to be sorry. Everybody who has met with me in individual has forgiven me. After I meet victims, I say, “I’m Umar Patek and I used to be concerned within the Bali bombing,” then I clarify why I used to be there, and apologise.

Some folks don’t wish to meet me and don’t wish to forgive me, like folks from Australia. That’s their proper, however my accountability as a Muslim, and somebody who has completed mistaken, is to apologise. I don’t know if I shall be forgiven, solely God is aware of that.

I didn’t apologize to get out of jail early, however all the pieces is all the time mistaken in different folks’s eyes. If I apologize, folks say I’m pretending and it’s a strategic alternative. If I didn’t apologise, folks would say I used to be smug.

AJ: Did you agree with the 20-year jail sentence that you got?

Patek: I accepted it on the time. There may be nothing honest on this life on Earth, justice will solely come within the hereafter.

Umar Patek, a suspected bomb-maker for Jemaah Islamiah, sits in the courtroom during his trial in Jakarta February 13, 2012. Patek is on trial for multiple charges including those of the 2002 Bali bombings. REUTERS/Enny Nuraheni (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Umar Patek sits within the courtroom throughout his trial in Jakarta in February 2012 [File: Enny Nuraheni/Reuters]

AJ: Your launch from jail was extremely controversial, notably in Australia, as you solely served 11 years of your 20-year sentence. Ought to you have got been freed?

Patek: I fulfilled all the factors based on Indonesian regulation to qualify for launch in 2022. I had additionally been very against the concept of the Bali bombing from the start. The witnesses at my trial all stated the identical, which is why I used to be sentenced to twenty years in jail [only]. The central folks within the Bali bombing had been sentenced to loss of life or died in different methods like Dulmatin, who was shot by the police.

Bali bombers Amrozi (L), Imam Samudra (C) and Mukhlas, also known as Ali Ghufron, are seen in Nusakambangan prison in this October 1, 2008 combination photograph. The three Muslim militants involved in the 2002 Bali bombings were executed on early November 9, 2008, according to reports from Indonesian television station TV ONE. REUTERS/Supri/Files (INDONESIA)
From left to proper: Convicted Bali bombers Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, also called Ali Ghufron, as seen in Nusakambangan jail in October 2008. The three had been executed on November 9, 2008, for his or her position within the bombings [File: Reuters]

I final noticed him in June 2009, once I got here residence from the Philippines to Jakarta. He requested me to go to a JI army academy in Aceh, however I stated I didn’t wish to. I had had sufficient. I instructed him I used to be simply transiting in Indonesia to get my passport and visa to go to Afghanistan. I wished to stay there for the remainder of my life and I requested him to come back with me, however he refused.

He [Dulmatin] was shot in Pemulang in Tangerang [a city on the outskirts of Jakarta]. I puzzled if he had repented for his sins earlier than he died. I by no means heard him say he felt regret or disappointment in regards to the victims of the Bali bombing and about individuals who weren’t the goal of the bombing. He by no means stated something about that and by no means requested for forgiveness.

So I used to be unhappy for him.

The four sons (front L-R) of militant Dulmatin, alias Joko Pitono, mourn during his funeral in Petarukan village in Indonesia's central Java province March 12, 2010. Dulmatin, a suspected mastermind of the Bali bombings, was killed in a police raid in Indonesia in the latest blow to an Islamist militant movement in the world's most populous Muslim country. REUTERS/Dadang Tri (INDONESIA - Tags: CRIME LAW)
The 4 sons of accused Bali bombing mastermind Dulmatin, alias Joko Pitono, mourn throughout his funeral in Petarukan village in Indonesia’s central Java province in 2010 [File: Reuters]

AJ: Is the killing of civilians ever justified?

Patek: After I was within the Philippines with the [Moro front], I lived with [the chairman] Salamat Hashim and he would usually preach to us. He strongly forbade mujahideen from attacking civilians, not simply Muslims but in addition Christians. He stated that that was not allowed, and that solely members of the military, or civilians who had been combating with the military, and who had been additionally carrying weapons, had been allowed to be attacked.

He as soon as stated to me, “Why do you wish to wage jihad in Indonesia, who do you wish to battle there? The president is Muslim, the federal government is Muslim, the Individuals’s Consultant Council is principally Muslim, plenty of police are Muslim, the military is stuffed with Muslims. It’s haram [forbidden] to assault them as a result of attacking Muslims will not be allowed.”

He felt that it was not proper to assault folks in Indonesia, and I stated that on the time of the Bali bombing, however nobody wished to take heed to me.

AJ: What are your ideas on the Israel-Gaza conflict?

Patek: Within the opening part of the 1945 Indonesian Structure, it says that “all colonialism have to be abolished on this world”.

Occupation wherever, not simply in Palestine, will not be allowed.

It’s Hamas’s proper to take again their land. The information that they’re killing infants and youngsters is a hoax perpetrated by the Western media. Indonesia was occupied by the Dutch colonialists. Would you name Indonesian heroes, who fought for his or her independence, terrorists? The Dutch would name them terrorists, however they had been simply taking again their land.

A man holds a poster during a rally in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, at the National Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A person holds a poster throughout a rally in help of the Palestinians in Gaza, on the Nationwide Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 5, 2023 [Dita Alangkara/AP Photo]

AJ: Are you deradicalised now?

Patek: What’s radicalised? If a Christian needs to comply with their faith based on the teachings of the Bible, would we name them radicalised?

I really feel that the media has a false picture of me as somebody who’s scary and merciless. They all the time paint me as somebody who’s harmful.

Individuals usually ask me why I don’t wish to be a terrorist any extra and why I’m so cooperative. I additionally say that it’s from my household. They’re those who melted my coronary heart and set me again to the suitable path.

I’m the oldest of three brothers. All my members of the family are average Muslims, none of them have ever adopted the identical ideology I used to comply with, and so they have usually confronted me about it over time.

If my household had stated they didn’t wish to have something extra to do with me due to my previous ideology, maybe I’d nonetheless be radical in my pondering, however happily they embraced me and that allowed me to alter.

AJ: How do you are feeling about non-Muslims?

Patek: After I was a toddler rising up, all my neighbours had been Chinese language Christians. I all the time used to play with them. Since I used to be younger, I’ve all the time been round non-Muslims.

I don’t hate Christians. My spouse’s prolonged household are Christians and, after we bought married, we had no issues and took photographs collectively on our wedding ceremony day.

After I married my spouse, I invited all of her household to the marriage at Camp Abubakar. At first, they didn’t wish to come as a result of they had been apprehensive we’d reduce their heads off. I instructed them that the mujahideen didn’t hurt civilians, and that we solely attacked the police and the military. I stated that I assured their security.

Within the Moro custom, when somebody bought married, mujahideen would shoot their weapons within the air to rejoice. However as a result of my spouse’s Christian household was there, I instructed my fellow mujahideen, “Don’t do the normal celebration as a result of we’ve Christians coming and it’ll scare them.

“They may assume we are attempting to kill them.”

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