The Bali Bombings: Imam Samudra’s Perverted Retribution Of The Salafi

Adam Fitzgerald
25 min readJan 16, 2021


“Free!? If I am freed, I want to continue my Jihad. I want to go to Moro, I want to go to Afghanistan. I want to go to Israel and kill Sharon. I want to kill Bush and if I am freed I will do it, kill Bush. Indonesia is not really independent. It is still under American control. It’s not free, it’s not really free.” (Imam Samudra addressing questions from reporters outside his cell at the KeroBokan Prison, Denpasar, Indonesia 8–17–2004)

The downtown streets of Kuta during the evening summer months in Indonesia are jammed packed with visitors from all over the world. A tourist hot spot, which once was a fishing and beach resort, now caters to young Western couples and moonlighters who are looking for extravagant, discoteque entertainment on their weekend vacation getaways. The Kuta district is located at the furthermost point south of the Bali province. Indonesia in 2002 was also experiencing strife from within. Megawati Sukarnoputri, became the sixth woman to be President in the country's history, but was clearly unprepared for the role. Becoming easily overwhelmed trying to recover a failing economic GDP, as well as being dysfunctional regarding political matters. The country was also witnessing a rise in poverty which had an alarming uptick over the last 8 years. According to the Asian Development Bank:

“The agriculture sector, which absorbs about 35% of the labor force, has consistently grown at a slower rate than the country’s average GDP growth. kes it harder for households at the lower end of income distribution to climb out of poverty. Since 1997, Indonesian households have faced many negative economic shocks, food price surges, and natural disasters.”

With the growing rates of unemployment in the public sector, militant Islam was becoming a problem for the country once again. Especially for the Christian population who were a minority, but also had a notable presence which was seen as a threat against the nation’s predominant religion, Islam, to some of the Islamic fundamentalist groups. The Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an ultra-orthodox Salafi sect, founded by Abdullah Sungkar in 1993, had started returning from the shadows after the Suharto led secular government fell in 1998. Sungkar, along with Abu Bakar Bashir (it’s co-founder), wanted the country to be lead under the shariah, an Islamic rule of law. Bashir was a known radical imam who founded the Al-Mukmin Islamic school, located in the city of Surakarta. The school was labeled a “boarding madrassa” which could hold up to 2,000 students, between the ages of 12–18. In the hallways of the school, one can witness pictures of students holding AK-47s with black headbands, inscribed with surahs from the Quran. One sign in a classroom would read:

“Death in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration.”

Another would read:

“Live as a noble man, or die as a martyr”

Students at the Al-Mukmin

Some of the students who were taught here would later be known for two of the worst terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia. Ali Amrozi bin Haji Nurhasyim (Amrozi), Huda bin Abdul Haq (Mukhlas), and Joni Hendrawan (Idris) for their participation in the 2002 Bali bombing attacks. Asmar Latin Sani, Muhammad Rais and Masrizal bin Ali Umar for their participation in the 2003 Marriott hotel bombing. The Jemaah Islamiyah began coordinating with other Jihadist organizations within the country and in the Middle east, such as Al Qaeda (Afghanistan), Abu Sayyaf (Philippines) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Moro) during the fall of 1999. With the country under economic duress, a growing Christian population and under a new, inexperienced transitional government under Sukarnoputri as it’s President, the Jemaah Islamiyah along with the Salafi oriented groups began to take steps towards achieving the goal of Indonesia being led by the Quran and the Sunnah as depicted in the Hadith. One person who fervently believed in creating an Islamic government in Indonesia was Imam Samudra.

“The Companions of the Messenger (Salafi) of Allaah (saw) — after the four caliphs — are the best of the people, and it is not permissible for anyone to … speak ill of any of them, blaming them for deficiencies and shortcomings. It is indeed obligatory upon the ruler to reprimand and punish whoever does that, and he should not be pardoned.” (Kitaab As-Sunnah, p. 77–78 & Manaaqibul Imaam Ahmad, of Ibnul Jawzee, p. 170)

Samudra was known to be a “studious” child while growing up in the Banten Province from a well to do family where he had 12 other siblings. He attended Junior Secondary School and while here received high marks, he was quite curious about history and Indonesian mysticism. His teachers here introduced him to Salafi Islam. After graduating he then attended State Islamic Senior High School. Where again, his interests took him to history and Islamic Law. After he completed his high school, Samudra was like many other young Salafi islamists, he wished to travel to Pakistan to enter the jihad against the communist government in Afghanistan. Yet he never saw the battlefield, not once. Instead while in Jalalabad, he was introduced to Camp Saddah, where he received guerilla training and Wahhabi lessons from the local imams who were from the local madrassas in Islamabad. His stories about participating in the jihad in Afghanistan were left questioned and at times, exaggerated.

He would disappear for ten years before returning home only to disappear once again. His family would later claim they had no idea where he was during the times he was away from home. Samudra would then travel to Malaysia, in which he would teach at a religious school south of the country in the early 1990s. The school was run by the militant Jemaah Islamiyah group under Abu Bakar Bashir, the group’s spiritual leader, and Riduan Isamuddin, who went by the nom de guerre, Hambali.

Imam Samudra

Samudra, now at age 32, became motivated by the Salafi ideology. Wanted to fully radicalize Indonesia and the enemies to Islam, eliminated, which were the Christian and Jewish kafir. Samudra saw what economic sanctions did to the Iraqi civilian population in 1990, as well as the U.S invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He wanted revenge for the Muslim blood being spilled at the hands of the Yahud (Jew) and the Crusader (Christian). However, just a year prior, a series of bombings on Christian churches in 2000, sent a resounding disapproval from many members of Jemaah Islamiyah. They considered the laws of the Quran regarding “non-combatants” as uncompromising.

“And do not kill any one whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided (Quran 17:33)”

The bombings were authorized by Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali) in return for the Christian-Muslim conflict which saw 250 Muslims killed in 1999. Hambali tasked Samudra with the construction of the bombings, in which he created a small, dedicated core group who were called the Badr Battalion Of The Islamic Army. Samudra would sometimes construct the bombs himself, which were hidden inside Christians gifts and left at the doors of churches.

Later that fall year of 2000, Hambali plotted to bomb U.S Embassies in Singapore, but Indonesian authorities got wind of the plot, and Hambli was forced to flee to Thailand. He tasked, Huda bin Abdul Haq (Mukhlas), to lead the Jemaah Islamiyah in Sumatra, Singapore and Malaysia. Samudra had a backup plan to the foiled operation constructed by Hambali. To bomb public areas where Western tourists would congregate in large numbers. Sensing the disapproval of many within Jemaah Islamiyah over the bombings of Christian churches in 1999, Samudra had to only allow a core select group in on his plot. Some of those members belonged to the group he once founded, the Bakr Battalion.

Mukhlas, was similar to Samudra in his way of thinking and approved of Samudras plan. Mukhlas took over as the primary leader of the operation, naming Samudra as the “field commander”. 11 others were carefully selected to be involved. Meetings between the top membership in the weeks prior to the operation were held in cities many meters away from Bali, knowing full well that their plans would be met with strict deterrence from the Jemma Islamiyah, due to their disapproval of killing civilians. Those involved with the operation included, Ali Amrozi bin Haji Nurhasyim (Amrozi), Ali Imron bin Haji Nurhasyim, Joni Hendrawan (Idris), Aris Munandar, Dulmatin, Abdul Ghoni, Umar Patek, with two men selected as being the martyrs of the operation, Iqbal and Jimi were chosen to be the martyrs of the operation.

Huda bin Abdul Haq (Mukhlas)

Mukhlas and Samudra also saw the prospect of Christians in the Indonesian land as suppressing heresy, Islam was the only way of life for these men, and so it must be preserved for the country they were born into. Bashir’s teachings at the Al Mukmin school, saw the threat of apostasy that these Christian churches could bring to the populace. The Jemaah Islamiyah were also partly funded by Osama Bin Laden, who by this time was the most wanted man in the world for his alleged role in the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks of New York City and Washington D.C. Samudra was in awe that a group like Al Qaeda, could bring the United States on its knees with such an easily constructed attack. His hatred for the Americans and their staunch ally, Israel, was uncompromising. He viewed the violence that plagued Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian peoples, without any retribution as an act of fitna. The plan for a martyrdom style operation had to be spectacular in regards to these offenses against the ummah (islamic world) . In late August 2001, both Samudra and Ali Imron started to scout potential spots that attracted Western tourists.

Both men went to a couple of hot spots in downtown Bali, before selecting Pattys Bar and the Sari Club located on Legian Street in the main tourist area of Kuta. According to Imron during the trial of the suspects involved with the bombing in 2008, they selected the spots “because it was frequented by Americans and their associates”. He quoted Imam Samudra as saying it was part of a jihad, or holy war, to “defend the people of Afghanistan from America”. Over 34 people were involved with the operation, and all those involved played specific roles, from making the bomb, purchasing the chemicals, vehicles, scouting law enforcement and being the martyrs for the operation.

Those carefully selected by Samudra and Mukhlas in charge of making the two bombs were Dulmatin, Abdul Ghoni, Umar Patek and Ali Imron. Idris, was in charge of gathering funds and arranging transport and accommodation for the bombers. Amrozi was also tasked to purchase the chemicals used for the two bombs. Ali Imron, Amrozi’s younger brother, would be in charge of driving the van to the street where the bar and club were, and he would then flee with on a moped driven by Idris.

The belt bomb, which was used for the Pattys Bar attack, consisted of potassium chlorate, aluminium powder, and sulfur. The bomb which was placed in the L300 van, purchased by Mukhlas younger brother, Amrozi, consisted of cabinets, each containing a potassium chlorate, aluminum powder, sulfur mixture with a TNT booster, and connected by 150 metres (490 ft) of PETN-filled detonating cord. Ninety-four RDX electric detonators were fitted to the TNT. The total weight of the bomb was 2,250 pounds.

Ali Amrozi bin Haji Nurhasyim

Mukhlas kept in touch with his imam and advisor, Abu Bakr Bashir, although Bashir had denied that he was ever contacted by anyone involved with the plot, much less know about the terrorist incidents. Nevertheless, the main trio of Samudra, Mukhlas and Amrozi continued to meet in various places in the eight weeks prior to the attacks to speak about logistics and preparation. The Jemmah Is;ammiyah however were coordinating attacks on their own against Malaysian and Indonesian targets that harbored American interests. Hambali, at this time was staying in numerous safe houses during his flight from Indonesian authorities. The notorious orchestrator of numerous terrorist plots, Hambali was also said to be present during a high ranking Al Qaeda summit meeting in Malaysia in January of 2000. It was suspected by intelligence officials that during this meeting, the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks and USS Cole bombing was discussed, also present were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, whom were all alleged to have had participation in the attacks.

He was still the financial conduit between Al Qaeda and the JI, receiving funds at various moneygram locations while on the lam. Another member of the JI who was also receiving funds for the group was Noordin Mohammad Top, also known as Noordin or Top M. Noordin was also a follower of Bashir’s Salafi teachings, but he, like Samudra and Mukhlas, was in opposition to the JI’s strict rules against killing civilians. His reputation for ruthlessness while being the “genius” behind the organization was known even to federal investigators. The FBI reported that Noordin was the Jemaah Islamiyah’s explosives expert, strategist, recruiter, and primary trainer.

Mukhlas and Samudra wanted the bombings to take place on September 11th 2002, exactly one year to the date of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. However the operation couldn’t be completed on time. It would have to wait just a month. The plan was simple. Iqbar, would wear a vest, packed with TNT around his chest while walking in Pattys Bar, he would detonate the explosives. Jimi, would then wait till Iqbal detonated, and in return, he would detonate the cabinet TNT bombs in the van. Although there were slight mistaked in the operation, such as Jimi being a terrible choice for a driver, making common simple mistakes even in training how to park a vehicle. Another almost ending the operation entirely, while in constructing the cabinet TNT bombs, there was a slight explosion inside the house where they were moving one cabinet into the common area where there was a chemical spill. It caused a chain reaction and causing slight damage. Ali Imron would explain in a police confession about the incident:

“It was about 4:30pm when we heard the explosion. The neighbors asked what the explosion was. Idris told them it was probably a tyre burst or an exploding balloon. We stopped mixing for that night.”

October 12, 2002, Ali Imron would travel to the American consulate, and scout the area. He would place a small bomb hidden in a package just outside the walls of the consulate. Imron would travel back to the house, where Idris and the martyrs, Iqbal and Jimi, were preparing themselves for the final ride. Imron checks the van, it was crammed with 14 filing cabinets packed with TNT. Imron them helps place the TNT vest on Iqbal, who by this time was sweating with nervous anticipation. Iqbal, however, knowing his fate would never waver. Imron was tasked to drive the van and park it outside the Sari Club, so that no mistakes would be made, being that Jimi was a terrible driver. Idris on his way out of the house, finds a phone with wires sticking out, he doesn’t realize the significance of it. Idris would drive a moped, and pick up Imron after he parked the van and flee the scene after the explosions took place.

Ali Imron bin Haji Nurhasyim

At 11.30pm, Ali Imron drove the van out of the garage, with Idris on his moped, right behind with Iqbal and Jimi in the van. Pattys Bar and the sari Club were filling fast with patrons. Mostly Australians, which was not known to the bombers. According to survivors, there was approximately 350 people in the club. Ali Imron took 27 minutes to drive 4 miles, due to the weight of the cabinet bombs, to the central of Kuta. He parks 100 meters short of the Sari Club. He turns and asks Jimi if he his “really ready”. To which Jimi nods and under shortness of breath says he is. Imron exists the van, and with Idris waiting by the left side if the van. Jimi has to maneuver the van just a few clicks to have better position, the van stops just 30 meters away. Iqbal gets out, puts on the vest, and walks over to the entrance of the bar. Jimi has the detonator switch box, placed on his lap.

Two kilometers away, Ali Imron asks Idris for the phone number. Idris noticing the odd question realizes that the phone he found in the home was supposed to be attached to the truck bomb if the driver, Jimi, has second thoughts and abandoned the operation. They would then detonate the bombs remotely. Idris, had never attached the other phone. However, they can explode the small bomb outside the American consulate. Jimi had reached the Sari Club, with Iqbal just arriving to Pattys Bar. Iqbal stood directly in the middle of the entrance slowly eyeing the place, his last moments on earth. As he slowly maneuvered closer toward the bar he reached under his flannel shirt which was hiding the vest bomb underneath, his last words of“Allahu Akbar!!” was reportedly heard . The detonation of his device was described by the surviving patrons Jason McCartney and Peter Hughes.

Jason McCartney, 29, from Victoria (Australia)

“There was a fizzing glow of orange light flying through the air. I was knocked to the ground and was briefly blinded by the flash of light.”

Peter Hughes, 43, from Perth (Australia)

“The whole place was completely black. I tumbled and went straight up in the air and a girl fell on me. I wasn't quite sure what happened. Why is this girl next to me? Why can’t i see anything? As i was stumbling out, i realized what was underneath me, it was people.”

The patrons in Sari Club had heard the explosion. The music was loud, and many had thought it was simply fireworks going off, the lights inside the club flickered off for a bit then turned back on. Some of the dazed charred survivors of Pattys Bar had stumbled out into the streets near the club. Where Jimi, had watched Iqbal detonate himself and exploding. Now it was his turn. At 11:10pm, Jimi turned on the connector switch which was wired into the cabinets, sending the electric current into the receptors connected into the TNT switches. The blast, was enormous, sending shockwaves a mile around the perimeter. Legian street suddenly became a thick black cloud, with fires raging from 1,000 feet from the blast center. Those who survived the blast saw a glaring bright red and organize glow, and then a sonic blast which burst eardrums, which sent people flying in midair and thrown feet away, followed by silence afterwards. Sari Club was in tatters, all that was left were smoking wood embers pitched black in contorted positions like spent matchsticks, with people strewn about on the ground like dolls. A few survivors began getting up, completely shocked to their core, walking clumsily in disbelief and physical distress.

Hanabeth Luke, was one of the survivors of the Sari Club bombing. She was there on vacation with her boyfriend, Marc Gajardo. Gajardo had went over to the bar to order drinks, when the explosions rocked the club. Luke was thrown in midair and knocked backwards, Garjardo, was killed almost immediately as he was near the epicenter. According to Luke, she was on the dance floor while Garjado walked over to the bar, when all of a sudden;

“There was a wave of hot air and the most powerful noise. Everything was destroyed in a second. I was thrown into the air and landed on the ground. I thought my time was up for a while. Somehow I wriggled myself free from the rubble and I was intact. I managed to climb onto the roof four metres above using severed electrical wire, dropped down on to rubble and I was all right.”

Luke had managed to find a bloody and shirtless young man who was bleeding about his head and chest, she asked him his name. He said, Tom. It would turn out that Tom Singer was a 17 year old from Maroubra, Australia and an avid surfer. It was his first time in Bali, and his first time vacationing outside of his home country. Singer would suffer burns over 65 percent of his body, with Luke managing to have his arms slung over her shoulders as they walked out together from the burning charred remnants of the club and out into the thick, acrid black hell which surrounded them as stores, cars and business in raging flames. A photographer had happened to take one of the most iconic photos of the Bali bombings, which was posted globally soon afterwards, even making the cover of TIME magazine. After four weeks of being under hospital care, Singer would expire from his injuries.

Hanabeth Luke assisting Tom Singer from the rubble of Sari Club

Ali Imron and Idris then drove to the Al Garubah mosque, just a few short kilometers from the bombings, where they had met weeks prior while plotting the bombings. Idris parks the moped and leaves it behind. Idris had planned to have the bike removed the next day by someone he knew. Both men stood laying on the floor of the mosque, as they heard the sirens of ambulances and foremen rushing down the streets. What followed next is explained in an August 2005 United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO) report.

“The investigators were thus able to recreate the bombers activities. Amrozi, Idris and Ali Imron had simply walked into a dealership and purchased a new Yamaha motorbike, after asking how much they could re-sell it for if they returned it in a few days. Imron used the motorbike to plant the small bomb outside the U.S. Consulate. Idris then rode the motorbike as Imron drove two suicide bombers in the Mitsubishi to the nightclub district in Kuta. He stopped near the Sari Club, instructed one suicide bomber to put on his explosives vest and the other to arm the vehicle bomb. The first bomber headed to Paddy’s Pub. Idris then left the second bomber, who had only learned to drive in a straight line, to drive the minivan the short distance to the Sari Club. Idris picked up Imron on the Yamaha and the duo headed back into Denpasar. Idris dialed the number of the Nokia to detonate the bomb at the Consulate. The two suicide bombers exploded their devices. Imron and Idris dropped the motorbike at a place where it eventually attracted the attention of the caretaker.”

In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, forensic investigators would locate a seat from the white Mitsubishi van, which Jimi had detonated in. Graham Ashton, Australian Federal Police involved with the Bali bombing investigation had been told by forensics that the seat had penetrated Pattys Bar, and on the ceiling were human remains of Jimi. Osama Bin Laden would make an audio recording praising the attacks, even blaming the deaths of Australians on it;s government participating in their war on East Timor.

You will be killed just as you kill, and will be bombed just as you bomb. Expect more that will further distress you.”

There were many questions over whether Bin Laden had supported the attacks financially, according to Hambali he was sent $30,000 to fund the bombings from Al Qaeda couriers in Afghanistan. Hambali was captured on August 11,2003 in a CIA-Thailand law enforcement sting, where he was found in the city of Ayutthaya where twenty uniformed and undercover police smashed down the door to his one bedroom apartment. They recovered firearms and explosives, as well as a fake Spanish passport.

The moped left at the mosque was identified and the members of the mosque reported to police, Idris and Ali Imron, which led them to Amrozi. When investigators found Amrozi sleeping in his house, he awakened at the sound of police entering, to which he replied rather casually.

‘’Gosh, you guys are very clever, how did you find me?”

What they found in his home was rather incriminating of his suspicion in the terrorist bombings. According to the United States-Indonesia Society report they found much more, which would literally bust the case wide open.

“Bags of chemical ingredients for bombs were found in his workshop and soil samples taken from outside his home showed traces of the primary chemical used in the Sari Club bomb. Police found recipets for the purchase of chemicals used to make the bombs, as well as a list of expenses incurred in making the bombs. Further search of Amrozi’s home revealed copies of speeches by Osama bin Laden, and Abu Bakar Bashir, the radical Indonesian Muslim cleric reputed to be the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. The speeches exhorted listeners to wage jihad. Police also uncovered training manuals on ambush techniques and numerous articles on jihad. Under questioning Amrozi revealed the names of six others involved in the bombing: Ali Imron, Imam Samudra, Dul Matin, Idris, Abdul Ghani and Umar Patek. But Amrozi’s mobile phone proved to be the real catch. Indonesian investigators were able to print out a list of calls he had made immediately before, during and after the bombing, as well as the names and telephone numbers in the phone’s memory. Pastika kept Amrozi’s arrest secret for two days. After it was announced, Polri monitored the sudden flurry of communications among numbers listed in Amrozi’s telephone before the calls abruptly ceased. The investigators were able to identify the location of a number of the telephones, leading to a series of arrests”

Imam Samudra and his personal jihad against the West was just beginning in his mind however. The daily news reports, which now reached global interest, had now descended on the Kuta province. The light shining on the darkness which encapsulated the minds of Samudra and Mukhlas. The Salaf would be avenged, even if Australia were the majority that perished. With a total of 202 fatalities and 209 injured, it was the second largest terrorist attack in the world, with only the terrorist attacks of September 11th having more than 3,000 fatalities. Meanwhile the Jakarta task force was given the special case regarding the two masterminds behind the Bali bombings, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas. Samudra was trying to evade authorities and escape into Malaysia, but he knew it would be nearly impossible now that the entire intelligence community from all over the world would be in on the chase. On November 21, 2002, Samudra was spotted by Jakarta task force authorities, he was on a bus at the Merak ferry terminal on the north-western tip of Java as he waited to board a boat to neighbouring Sumatra.

Senior Commander Andi Chairuddin of the Jakarta task force stated in a press briefing about Samudra’s capture that, “Samudra seemed resigned to his fate. He seemed to already know that he was going to be arrested.” The tip about Samudra’s whereabouts came from the arrest of two of his bodyguards who knew where he would be travelling on the day of his capture. Leaving only Mukhlas, also known as Ali Gufron, as the only suspect still at large. After weeks of intense manhunts and stings, they finally would capture the elusive mastermind of the bombings. On December 4 2002, while asleep in a safehouse in Central Java province, investigators had descended into the bedroom while breaking down the backdoor. Like Samudra, he offered no resistance. Bali police chief, Maj. Gen. I Made Mangku Pastika, the held a press conference regarding the final and most important arrest of the Bali bombing case.

“Mukhlas, alias Ali Gufron, has confessed to being a member of Jemaah Islamiyah. Mukhlas told police the Bali bombings were planned in August at meetings he attended in Solo.”

The arrests along with detaining over 50 subjects lead to some interesting interviews and reports about the influence of the global Islamic terror network. Intelligence officials say Samudra, was acting at the behest of Hambali. He has also confessed to planning a series of earlier bombings in 2000, including several churches. While Mukhlas admitted he replaced Hambali as the de facto leader if the JI in Malaysia and Indonesia. Samudra gave his reasons for the bombings to Bali investigators.

“Sometimes, Jews and Christians are more convinced by the Koran compared to Moslems themselves. They attack Islamic nations because they are afraid the words inside Koran would become reality. So, it’s not about oil or nuclear issues at all… I am more convince by the Koran rather than human analysis. So, it’s a matter of aqidah (faith). Until judgment day comes there will never be peace. Unless Islam gets the victory.”

Mukhlas openly confessed to his masterminding the operation, while also detailing where the primary source of funding came form.

“I do not know for sure the source of the aforementioned money from Hambali, most probably it was from Afghanistan, that is, from Sheikh Osama bin Laden. As far as I know, Hambali did not have a source of funds except from Afghanistan.”

Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali)

However, Abu Bakr Bashir, the man who schooled most of the Bali bombing suspects, the man whose Salafi studies helped shaped these young men’s hearts and minds to create terrorism as their religion, the man who had been watched for years by Indonesian authorities to his long standing ties with Abdullah Sungkar, the founder of JI, the man who some of the Bali suspects claim was the sole motivating factor and supporter of the bombings of the Sari Club and Paddys Bar, as well as other previous terrorist attacks in the country, was finally arrested on October 19, 2002. He is suspected of not only being behind the Bali bombings but also the bombings of the January 19, 1999 bombings of Christian churches on the Islamic holiday of Fitri. and the bombings of Christian churches in the towns of Batam, Mataram, Medan and Mojokerto which killed overall 18 people. He is also charged with treason and false statements to police.

The U.S State Department had wanted Bashir to be secretly rendered to face prosecution for his alleged ties with Al Qaeda, but President Megawati Sukarnoputri, refused due to the country already being at center stage of the Islamic world and handing over someone as infamous as Bashir would bring unwanted fundamentalist attention for future attacks of the country. With Amrozi being shopped around for court proceedings, he became the “face” of the Bali bombings, constantly smiling rather unconcerned about his disposition. Shouting islamic phrases while being shuffled by two Indonesian guards on his chair before the court. On January 28, 2003, official hold a press briefing and announce the Jemaah Islamiyah being behind the Bali bombings, and also announce that Bashir is the primary influence behind the motivation of the attacks. Ali Imron, who was arrested months prior, admits to his role in the attacks, and even goes to elaborate that the civilians killed in the attacks were “justified”, because of Australia being a tie to the United States who was the legitimate target of terrorist attacks due to their invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Anyone affiliated with the U.S was considered a target for retaliation, according to Ali Imron.

The lawyers defending Samudra, Mukhlas and Amrozi knew that their clients weren’t going to put up much of a defense. They all have admitted their roles with conviction before Indonesian authorities, it was just a matter of whether they face the death penalty or life imprisonment for their admitted guilt. Samudra and Mukhlas would prove defiant before the courts, even shouting at supporters allowed at the court pews. While being transferred to the Den Pasar police station he would be heard shouting at the press who were filming the enigmatic terrorist;

“Hey, Bush, John Howard (Australian Prime Minister), like this (while running his hand under his throat in a slow slashing motion). You are next! I get Gun. Gun for you. Don’t forget this is a terrorist country. Life for life, soul for soul. I am a killer for you. As long as you kill our Muslim country, we also attack your country and your people!”

The following weeks of April and May would showcase their antics before the court with loud declarations and circus like display. The jovial trio of Samudra, Amrozi and Mukhlas before the world’s stage gave them an egotistical thrill, unlike they ever experienced before. They also showed their lack of empathy which was from years and years of manipulation and the perverted teachings of the Salafi by Bashir from the Al-Mukrim school and from those affiliated with it at the local mosques. The poverty stricken areas of the Islamic world had been abused by Saudi-Gulf Wahhabi ideology since the early 1970’s, hundreds of millions of dollars poured in from the oil boom. Turning former socialist Arab countries into Wahhabi-Salafi oriented provinces. Their vitriol for the West came from the teachings of older Muslim men who feared and hated the West due to outlawed texts from Sayyid Qutb and Ibn Baz (Saudi Imam Grand Mufti). Imam Samudra was simply just a spoke in the wheel for the Salafi. His own world undefined, became defined by the perversions of people like Bashir and Isamuddin, who take advantage of the impoverished youth, and make them into pawns for a nefarious geopolitical game which has no true ending. The results are usually the same, insidious actions causing lives of the innocent, to which the Quran forbids;

“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land — it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one — it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” (Surat al-Maidah, Sahih International)

Samudra never read this part, nor likely did Mukhlas, Amrozi, Ali Imron, Idris, Jimi and Iqbal. Or even Bashir for the matter, or if he did, they never bothered to want to become pious Muslims, but rather purveyors of a message that there is only a perversion of Islam, one that opposes the words of the very faith itself. The true death lies not just for the 202 people who were murdered but also in the heart and minds of the Bali bombing operators who made death their god and life their enemy in their religion based on a perverted teachings of the Salaf who arrogantly thought of themselves as the conduit to returning Indonesia back to the Salaf, the first and second generations of the Prophet Muhammad.

The main suspects involved with the Bali bombings would receive no reprieve.

August 7th 2003: Amrozi is found guilty of helping plan and carry out the attacks. He is sentenced to death.

September 10th 2003: Imam Samudra is found guilty of organising attacks and sentenced to death.

September 18th 2003: Ali Imron is convicted of planning an act of terrorism and sentenced to life in prison.

October 10th 2003: Mukhlas is sentenced to death for acting as the overall co-ordinator of the attacks.

March 3rd 2004: An Indonesian court finds Abu Bakar Ba’asyir guilty of conspiracy over the Bali bombings, but is cleared of more serious charges over a bomb attack on the Marriott hotel. The judges say Ba’asyir had given his approval for the Bali bombings. He is jailed for two-and-a-half years, a sentence which Australia’s foreign minister describes as “disappointing”.

Bashir would escape his sentence however and on December 21, 2006, has his conviction for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings overturned by the Supreme Court. As of 2021, Bashir was released from Jakarta prison after serving 15 years for his supporting a jihad training camp located in the Aceh province. The court has released him into a “deradicalization program”. He is 82 years old and has reiterated to the media that he had absolutely no connection to the Bali bombings or those involved.

After menial appeals, the trio of Mukhlas, Imam Samudra and Amrozi decide to accept their fate and all wished to die immediately. Samudra and Amrozi wished to be killed as martyrs and to be beheaded by the state. It was refused. On November 8th 2008, all three were executed by firing squad. The manner in which they died were chosen for them. An ironic end to men who decided the fates of 202 people who based it on the perverted teachings of men who claimed to be descendants of the Salaf. They died knowing no life, while the victims of Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club died celebrating it.



Adam Fitzgerald

Geo-political scientist/researcher into the events of September 11th 2001.