And as Imam Samudra expressed defiance on Monday, momentum was growing within the government to impose draconian security laws to fight terrorism. It follows last week’s bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. Police said they had a list of suspects.
Samudra, a 33-year-old computer expert, was speaking to a court that less than a week ago sentenced to death the “smiling bomber”, Amrozi, for his role in the bombings of two Bali nightclubs that killed 202 people last October.
A member of the banned Jemaah Islamiah (JI), which is blamed for the Bali attacks, Amrozi appealed against his conviction on Monday and said he would welcome martyrdom. Samudra said he too would welcome such a death.
“I’d like to say thank you to the prosecution team, which has demanded the death sentence. Because in death we live peacefully, and in death we draw near to God,” Samudra told the court.
Wearing the loose white shirt and skull cap he favours, to distinguish him as a Muslim believer, he began his statement by reciting verses in Arabic from the Koran.
“I’m ready to die a martyr,” he shouted as he was led from the courtroom. His trial resumes on Thursday.
Tough sentences ‘ to show seriousness’
Political analysts say prosecutors’ demands for tough sentences mean the world’s most populous Muslim state wants to show it is serious about tackling Islamist radicalism, especially after the bombing of the US-run Marriott Hotel.
Military chief General, Endriartono Sutarto, who is close to President Megawati Sukarnoputri, threw his support behind a chorus of calls from ministers for a tough internal security law.
“Terrorist acts are escalating. These can only be dealt with through an internal security act,” Sutarto said. Such laws exist in nearby Singapore and Malaysia.
Like other Bali accused, Samudra and Amrozi were students of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. The elderly cleric is also on trial in Jakarta, for treason linked to his alleged leadership of Jemaah Islamiah. The group is seen as the southeast Asian arm of Usama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.
Prosecutors will make their demand for sentencing in that case on Tuesday, and Ba’asyir faces a life term.
Attacks to avenge US wars
Describing US President George W Bush as an “infidel”, Samudra said the attacks were retribution for US wars in such countries as Afghanistan.
But he had limited praise for last Tuesday’s Jakarta bombing.
“If the bombings were conducted by Muslims and caused American victims, then I agree. But if the victims were Muslims then I don’t agree,” he said. Of the 11 people killed, 10 were Indonesians and one was a Dutch banker.
Jemaah Islamiah has emerged as the prime suspect in the Jakarta blast, police say. National police chief General, Da’i Bachtiar, said a list of suspects had been compiled and a hunt was under way to trace those named. He did not say how many were on the list.
“We have data and identities of those connected… We are developing this,” the official Antara news agency quoted Bachtiar as saying in the West Java capital, Bandung.