Bali Police Hunt 3 Who Fled Bomb Sites
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
KUTA, Indonesia, Oct. 4 -- Bali port police hunted Tuesday for three men who reportedly raced from the scene of suicide bombings on the island Saturday night and may now be trying to leave by sea.
The police chief in the port of Gilimanuk, Agung Sukasana, said he had been asked by officials shortly after the attacks to be on alert for the men, who were identified as Abdullah, Abdul Ghani and Dedy Mizwar. They were reported to have fled separately in a silver Suzuki minivan, a green Toyota minivan and a white Suzuki minivan, he said.
Sukasana said he had been given no physical description or other identifying data for the men.
Despite beefed-up security measures since the three bombings, which killed at least 22 people including the attackers, police said Bali remains vulnerable to terrorists who could smuggle in explosives or escape undetected.
"Entering Bali is relatively easy," the island's police chief, I Made Pastika, said in an interview after the bombings.
"The beaches of Bali are pretty long, so it is not difficult," he said. "It is impossible that all people going through Gilimanuk are carefully checked."
Sukasana said the ferry terminal at Gilimanuk is an ideal entry point to Bali for radicals on Java, Indonesia's main island. The port is a 40-minute ferry ride from the coast of East Java province, where many of the extremists who staged suicide bombings on Bali in 2002 had been based. Those attacks killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.
Since the most recent attacks, police have been checking passengers' names at the ferry port against a list of suspected terrorists and recording vehicle license plate numbers, Sukasana said. The police force has been strengthened from 37 to 60 members, including intelligence officers and detectives, he said.
About 3,000 people enter and leave Bali daily via Gilimanuk. That figure increases to 4,000 on holidays, such as Galungan, a Hindu holiday that will be observed on Wednesday. At least 1,000 vehicles make the crossing daily, Sukasana said.
Although Gilimanuk, with its antiquated terminal, is not equipped to maintain adequate security, Sukasana said it is the best of three ferry ports on the island. Port police have several metal detectors, but not all of them work all the time, Sukasana said.
"We cannot use the devices to their maximum effectiveness because we're talking about thousands of people," he said.
Sukasana said that police also have a hand-held, American-made explosives trace detector, but that it is often inoperable. "It is useless," he said. "The device jams. It doesn't help at all."
As police continued their investigation on Tuesday, they described evidence recovered at the three bomb sites, including nine-volt batteries, electrical wires and, at one site, a plastic food container. They also found pieces of black bags at two sites, said Soenarko, a spokesman for the Indonesian police, who like many of his countrymen uses one name.
The materials were similar to those used in bombs designed by Azahari Husin, a fugitive who produced devices referred to by police as Tupperware bombs and who trained others to build them, said Ken Conboy, a security consultant based in Jakarta, the capital. Conboy, who has written a book titled "Second Front" about the militant group Jemaah Islamiah, said police raided a clandestine bomb workshop in West Java province last October after a bomb detonated by accident. He said the police found at least two intact bombs containing ball bearings packed in plastic containers.
Men at that hideout were arrested a month later and admitted that they had been trained by Azahari.
Azahari, a 48-year-old engineer, designed the two bombs used in the 2002 suicide bombings, a car bomb that exploded at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003 and a car bomb that exploded in front of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004, Conboy said.
"That's the scary part," said Conboy, country manager for the firm Risk Management Advisory. Azahari, he said, "could be training up plenty of people to be putting these things together. Lecture notes in Azahari's handwriting showed that Azahari was thinking ahead and training the next generation."
Correspondent Alan Sipress in Jakarta and special correspondent Yayu Yuniar contributed to this report.