Bali Chosen as Bomb Target to Hit 'White People' Updated 11:32 PM ET June 15, 2003By Achmad SukarsonoBALI, Indonesia (Reuters) - An Indonesian Muslim militant who fought in Afghanistan was in charge of last year's Bali bombings and targeted the holiday island because it was popular with "white people" including Americans, a court heard.Reading the indictment of Mukhlas at the opening of his trial on Monday, prosecutor Putu Indriati said the blasts were part of a plan to wage war on the United States.Mukhlas, a 43-year-old Muslim preacher, has been charged with plotting, organising and carrying out terror crimes.The alleged operations head of Southeast Asia's radical Jemaah Islamiah Muslim network faces the death penalty if convicted over the October 12 atrocity that killed 202 people, mainly foreign tourists partying in nightclubs."The defendant felt grateful upon hearing a radio broadcast about the Bali bomb explosions because the purpose had been achieved and many victims from America's allies were killed, including Australians," Indriati told the court.In what could be emotional courtroom drama in Bali later on Monday, Australian tourists wounded in the attacks are expected to give evidence when the trial resumes of Amrozi, Mukhlas's younger brother and the first suspect to take the dock.He has gained notoriety by laughing at Indonesian witnesses and has said he was proud the blasts killed white people.Nearly 90 Australians were killed in the tragedy.Mukhlas, wearing a white Muslim cap and collarless shirt, shouted "Allauhu Akbar" (God is greatest) at his lawyers before his trial opened. He shouted the same thing three times at the judges when they adjourned his trial until June 23.Referring to an alleged meeting in August where Mukhlas was chosen by a group of Islamic militants to have overall responsibility for the Bali operation, Indriati said:"In that meeting, it was agreed the place for the bombing would be Bali because many white people went there, including those from America and its allies."LINKS TO BIN LADENIndonesia has blamed Jemaah Islamiah, which officials have linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, for the Bali blasts.Indriati said Mukhlas met bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1987 while the defendant spent three years there helping fight Soviet forces. Mukhlas has already said he knew bin Laden well.The prosecutor said Mukhlas gave at least $30,500 to various suspects to buy explosive materials and a mini-van that was later turned into a massive car bomb.Mukhlas, also known as Ali Gufron, is the third key suspect to face trial over the Bali blasts. More than 30 Muslim militants have been arrested over the attacks.One of his lawyers, Achmad Michdan, said on Sunday that Mukhlas had not admitted to any role in the Bali blasts.Prosecutors have accused another suspect on trial, Iman Samudra, as being the mastermind of the ground operation.The world's most populous Muslim nation has been praised for investigating the Bali attacks amid fears Islamic radicalism and anti-American sentiment was on the rise.The indictment said Mukhlas took part in various planning meetings. At one, Indriati said it was to decided "to wage jihad in Indonesia to fight the United States and its allies who have arbitrarily slaughtered Muslims everywhere by bombing Bali."Even though Jakarta has alleged Mukhlas is Jemaah Islamiah's operations chief, the indictment made no mention of the group.However, it alleged Mukhlas got the money from a Malaysian called Wan Min Wan Mat. Indonesian police have said he was Jemaah Islamiah's treasurer. He was arrested in Malaysia last September.
Sun, 06/15/2003 - 11:04pm#1
Muslim Militant: "Let's Blow Up White People"