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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 individuals. 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 yr. 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 kin of the tons of of victims of the Bali bombing.

Al Jazeera lately interviewed Patek at his dwelling in East Java the place he spoke about his position in Bali and revealed that the horrific bomb assault 20 years in the past was an act of revenge for the violence inflicted on Palestinian individuals by Israeli forces.

He additionally talked about repentance and of being not sure 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 dwelling in East Java, Indonesia, on October 14, 2023 [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera: How did you turn out 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 non secular lessons within the night on the faculty. Then Mukhlas requested me to work on the faculty, so I moved in. After three months on the faculty, he provided me the possibility to go to Pakistan. I needed to review and he stated I might 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 educated individuals 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 every part on the army academy to coach us to be mujahideen, comparable to methods to use weapons, map studying and bomb making. We practised blowing up bombs in areas the place there have been no individuals, like in caves or on hillsides, in order that there wouldn’t be any fatalities.

We additionally needed to make it possible for no goats have been by chance killed as a result of numerous individuals have a tendency goats in Afghanistan.


Once 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 informed to go away 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 individuals 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 automobiles and he stated I might additionally search for work there, which is how I turned 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 law enforcement officials present safety exterior Jakarta’s most important 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 suppose the bombs could be planted?

Patek: I didn’t combine the bombs for the church bombings, I solely knew concerning 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 dwelling to Pemalang for the vacation and drop off some issues alongside the best way.”

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

I used to be sentenced for the bombings regardless that I didn’t make the bombs or get out of the automobile 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 tools.

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 basic view of the scene of a bomb blast at Kuta, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on this October 17, 2002 picture, taken 5 days after explosions in a preferred evening spot killed 202 individuals [File: Reuters]

I met with [JI members] Imam Samudra, Mukhlas, Idris and Dr Azahari. Imam Samudra stated that they needed 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], so that they needed 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 informed them, if we needed to get revenge for the atrocities dedicated in opposition to Muslims in Palestine, we must always go to Palestine and never kill Westerners in Indonesia. I requested them, “What’s the relationship between these individuals who will probably be victims and your motive of revenge for Muslims in Palestine?”

I informed them that in the event that they needed to kill Westerners in massive numbers utilizing a one-tonne bomb, it might not simply kill the individuals in entrance of it. It might explode in all places. I informed them that it might kill numerous 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 prime of her home within the destroyed Jenin refugee camp within the northern West Financial institution, following what turned referred to as the Battle of Jenin in April 2002 [File: Reuters]

I stated {that a} bomb would additionally doubtless 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 primarily based on their intentions.

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

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

AJ: Greater than 200 individuals died in Bali because 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 informed them I used to be sorry. Everybody who has met with me in individual has forgiven me. Once 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 individuals don’t need to meet me and don’t need to forgive me, like individuals from Australia. That’s their proper, however my accountability as a Muslim, and somebody who has finished incorrect, is to apologise. I don’t know if I will probably be forgiven, solely God is aware of that.

I didn’t make an apology to get out of jail early, however every part is all the time incorrect in different individuals’s eyes. If I make an apology, individuals say I’m pretending and it’s a strategic alternative. If I didn’t apologise, individuals would say I used to be conceited.

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

Patek: I accepted it on the time. There’s nothing truthful 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, significantly in Australia, as you solely served 11 years of your 20-year sentence. Ought to you’ve gotten 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 individuals within the Bali bombing have 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 referred to as Ali Ghufron, as seen in Nusakambangan jail in October 2008. The three have 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 dwelling from the Philippines to Jakarta. He requested me to go to a JI army academy in Aceh, however I stated I didn’t need to. I had had sufficient. I informed him I used to be simply transiting in Indonesia to get my passport and visa to go to Afghanistan. I needed to dwell there for the remainder of my life and I requested him to return 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 concerning 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: Once 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 have been combating with the military, and who have been additionally carrying weapons, have been allowed to be attacked.

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

He felt that it was not proper to assault individuals in Indonesia, and I stated that on the time of the Bali bombing, however nobody needed to hearken to me.

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

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

Occupation anyplace, not simply in Palestine, isn’t 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 once 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 have 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 desires 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 horrifying and merciless. They all the time paint me as somebody who’s harmful.

Individuals usually ask me why I don’t need 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 fitting path.

I’m the oldest of three brothers. All my relations are reasonable Muslims, none of them have ever adopted the identical ideology I used to comply with, they usually have usually confronted me about it through the years.

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

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

Patek: Once I was a baby rising up, all my neighbours have 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 obtained married, we had no issues and took photographs collectively on our marriage ceremony day.

Once I married my spouse, I invited all of her household to the marriage at Camp Abubakar. To start with, they didn’t need to come as a result of they have been nervous we’d reduce their heads off. I informed 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 obtained married, mujahideen would shoot their weapons within the air to have a good time. However as a result of my spouse’s Christian household was there, I informed my fellow mujahideen, “Don’t do the standard celebration as a result of now we have Christians coming and it’ll scare them.

“They’ll suppose we are attempting to kill them.”

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