The killing of five men who police say planned to attack tourists on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali has renewed concerns about terrorism there.
Indonesian police shot dead the five suspected terrorists in the capital Denpasar and the tourist resort of Sanur. They said the men had scoped a popular bar in the upmarket beach strip of Seminyak as a potential bombing target and had stockpiled firearms and ammunition.
According to ABC Australia’s Indonesia correspondent Matt Brown, the men who had evaded police may be linked to a terrorist network.
This all goes back to 2009 to Aceh in northern Sumatra when [the man behind the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people died] Dulmartin and a bunch of fellow travellers from a very broad range of jihadist and Islamist groups got together and established a terrorist training camp. That camp was busted in February of 2010, and since then, the notorious Abu Bakar Bashir has been jailed for his role in that camp. But, importantly, people who attended it have since scattered to the wind.
Since then, they’ve committed a series of terrorist acts including small attacks on police, as well as robberies to raise money for terrorism, and it was one of those robberies in Medan in Sumatra in August of 2010 that has led to this chain of events. Because a man allegedly involved in that robbery showed up in Bali in February this year. And that’s when this surveillance operation began. So basically, people from all over the archipelagos, two locals from Bali who’ve been living in for quite some time, but we don’t know their religion or where their parents grew up, and people from elsewhere in the archipelago.
Brown said that there are about five other suspects still believed to be on the run who may have also set up terrorist cells. Reports are that associates of the men killed have now fled Bali.
The Jakarta Globe newspaper reported that police believe there are at least four militant groups that could still be engaging in terrorist activities in Indonesia, including Jemaah Islamiyah, JAT, the Indonesian Islamic State and Tauhid wal Jihad.
The 2002 Bali bombings occurred in the tourist district of Kuta. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 240 people were injured.
Various members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamist group, were convicted in relation to the bombings, including three individuals who were sentenced to death. Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. However, Bashir only served 18 months of his sentence, because of his indirect involvement with the incident. Bashir is now serving 15 years imprisonment after being convicted of helping to organize and fund a Jihadi training camp.
The trial began last month of a man accused of making the bombs used in the atrocity.
In 2005, another bomb in the same area killed 20 people.
The American government lifted its travel warnings for Bali in 2008. As of 2009, the Australian government still rates it at a four (out of five) danger level. Bali had 2.5 million visitors in 2010.
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