No evidence of Qaeda link to Bali suspect
JAKARTA: Indonesian investigators said Saturday it was too early to link the main suspect in the Bali blast to any established terror group, as a clearer picture of the bomb plot emerged.
National police chief Da’i Bachtiar said it was not known whether the Indonesian mechanic arrested in the case, Amrozi, was tied to Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network or Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), its Southeast Asian ally. “So far we have not yet seen (links with) a group,” Bachtiar told the Detikom news portal.
“When things are complete we will be able to talk about that. It is possible that a group may later claim (responsibility),” Bachtiar added. Amrozi has allegedly confessed to Indonesian investigators that he helped build the bomb which killed more than 190 people when it ripped through packed nightspots in the tourist destination on October 12.
The head of the multinational investigation team, I Made Mangku Pastika, said Friday that Amrozi admitted trying to “kill as many Americans as possible” in the attack. Defense Minister Matori Abdul Jalil Friday described Amrozi as a member of JI and said he was convinced the bombing was linked to Al Qaeda.
Pastika has revealed Amrozi had admitted having met two alleged Indonesian leaders of JI, terror suspect Abu Bakar Bashir and another Indonesian, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali. Singapore and Malaysia say Bashir, in police custody in Jakarta as a suspect in a string of attacks in Indonesia in 2000, is JI’s spiritual leader. Hambali, who is on the run, is believed to be its operations chief.
Bashir, who has denied terror links, has not been named as a suspect in the Bali bombing. Investigation team spokesman Brigadier General Edward Aritonang said that although a clearer picture of how the attack was planned had emerged following questioning of Amrozi, they had not yet found a conclusive tie to Al Qaeda.
“From the investigation we’re conducting, we have yet to come to that conclusion,” he told Elshinta radio station when asked if police have any found link with Qaeda.
Earlier Aritonang told AFP investigators had been able to piece together a rough reconstruction of the bomb plot. “We are now more focused in our investigation because we have now been able to make a rough reconstruction of the bombing’s planning,” Aritonang said, adding that a manhunt for “several” accomplices of Amrozi was underway.
He refused to confirm media reports that police were hunting two of Amrozi’s brothers, identified as Ghufron and Ali Imron, believed to have been in Bali during the attack.
The Media Indonesia daily, quoting an unnnamed police source, said Ghufron and Imron had fled before Amrozi was arrested Tuesday at his home in a remote village in East Java province. Amrozi ran a motorbike repair workshop at his home and sometimes sold used cars or cellphones to make a living. Police said his Mitsubishi van was used in the bombing.
Aritonang said police suspected the bomb used in the attack was assembled not far from the scene because the device was apparently equipped with a timer with a short time interval.
Investigators Saturday questioned witness Muhammad Zakaria, the principal of a boarding school founded by another of Amrozi’s brothers, and Sylvester Tendean, the owner of a chemical shop where Amrozi had allegedly bought chemical substances used in building the bomb. Police also guarded and sealed a room in an apartment in Bali’s capital Denpasar where Amrozi was believed to have stayed for two days, Elshinta radio station reported. —AFP