An Indonesian man arrested this week in connection with the Oct. 12 bombings in Bali has told interrogators he knows several of Southeast Asia's most prominent terrorism suspects, and said he was involved in an August 2000 bombing at the Philippine ambassador's house in Jakarta, officials said today.
Amrozi, a 40-year-old East Javanese car repairman, told police that the Bali bombings, which destroyed two nightclubs and killed more than 180 people -- about half of them Australian -- were "revenge" for "what Americans have done to Muslims," according to Maj. Gen. I Made Pastika, a senior Indonesian police official who is the head of an international investigation into the attack.
"They said they want to kill as many Americans" as possible, Pastika said, speaking to reporters at an anti-terrorism conference in Manila. "They hate Americans. They tried to find where the Americans are gathering. That is in Bali. But they were not that happy because Australians were killed in big numbers."
A police spokesman said Amrozi -- who, like many Indonesians, uses one name -- also told investigators that he has met with Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian better known as Hambali. Intelligence officials describe Hambali as a leader of Jemaah Islamiah, a regional group of Islamic militants, and as al Qaeda's top operative in Southeast Asia.
The police spokesman, Brig. Gen. Edward Aritonang, said Amrozi also told investigators that he had met with Abubakar Baasyir, Indonesia's most outspoken radical Islamic cleric, and an alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiah. Police arrested Baasyir last month in connection with a series of bombings on Christmas Eve 2000 in Indonesia and an alleged assassination attempt on President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Baasyir has denied involvement with any terrorist activities. Hambali is at large.
Amrozi told investigators that he took part in a bombing at the Jakarta stock exchange in 2000 that killed 15 people, the Associated Press reported. He also said he was involved in the bombing of the Philippine consulate in the province of North Sulawesi on Oct. 12, the same day as the Bali blasts, officials told the AP.
Amrozi told police, according to investigators, that he also knows Fathur Rohman Ghozi, an Indonesian who graduated from an Islamic boarding school founded by Baasyir. Indonesian authorities said Ghozi, who was arrested by Philippine authorities in January, is an explosives expert for Jemaah Islamiah. Ghozi has told interrogators in Manila that he was involved in a number of bomb plots, including a van explosion at the Philippine ambassador's home that killed two people.
The information reportedly provided by Amrozi lends credence to the theory held by intelligence analysts in Southeast Asia that the Bali attack was the latest operation in the region conducted by al Qaeda with the help of Indonesians involved with Jemaah Islamiah.
Indonesia's defense minister, Matori Abdul Djalil, told reporters in Jakarta today that he was "convinced" that the attack was the work of al Qaeda.
"When you look at intention and capability, the only groups that have both are al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah," said Andrew Tan, a terrorism expert at the Institute of Defense and Security Studies in Singapore.
Police officials said that it was too early to conclude whether Jemaah Islamiah and al Qaeda were behind the attack. They said that they have identified six to 10 Amrozi associates whom they are seeking in several regions in Indonesia. Police officials also said that they believe that the locals were financed by foreign militants.
The police investigation has yielded significant information. A police investigator in Bali said Amrozi, told interrogators he bought at least one ton of chemicals in Surabaya, the capital of East Java, for which police have obtained the sales receipt. The owner of the shop that sold him the chemicals, which police believe were used in the Bali bombings, was detained by police today, according to Indonesia's official Antara news agency. Amrozi led police to a home in Denpasar, the capital of Bali, where explosive residue was found, a police investigator in Bali said.
Police also said that Amrozi used foreign currency to buy the Mitsubishi L-300 minivan that carried the explosives used to flatten the Sari Club, where most of the Bali casualties occurred. Pastika, the chief investigator, said Amrozi paid in Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollars.
"That indicates this has a link with Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in Southeast Asia," Pastika said.
Another Indonesian official said U.S. dollars were used.
The police official in Bali said that investigators found airline tickets to Malaysia and Singapore, as well as passports, Islamic magazines and religious articles in Amrozi's house. The official said Amrozi had traveled to Malaysia and Singapore.
Acquaintances of Amrozi said he was raised in Lamongan, East Java, graduated from the School of Machine Technology in Surabaya andworked in an auto repair shop, where he fixed cars, motorbikes and cell phones. The acquaintances said he lives with his parents and has two wives.
Amrozi has other links to Baasyir, according to people who know him. He is the younger brother of Mohammed H. Khozin, the founder of Al Islam, an Islamic boarding school in Lamongan. Zakaria, a teacher at Al Islam, invited Baasyir to speak to graduating students there at least twice since 1991, and Amrozi has heard Baasyir speak at Al Islam, Zakaria told local reporters. Baasyir last lectured there several months ago, according to a local Islamic teacher. Zakaria, an acquaintance said, is a 1992 graduate of Pondok Pesantren Ngruki, an Islamic boarding school founded by Baasyir in the central Java city of Solo.
Zakaria told the Indonesian newspaper Kompas that in 1993 Khozin went to the Pondok Pesantren Ngruki school to recruit one of its directors, and that a teacher had recommended him. Zakaria was detained this afternoon by police in Bali, according to a relative.
Pastika said today that fragments of cell phones that police suspect were used to detonate the bombs in the Bali nightclub district had been recovered at the site.
The bombing of the home of then-Philippine ambassador Leonides Caday also involved remote-control detonation, Caday said in an interview. A suspect in that case, an Indonesian known as Abdul Jabar, is allegedly an expert in that type of bombing, and is also being sought for possible involvement in the Bali explosions, authorities said.
Earlier this year, al-Ghozi told Philippine interrogators that he and Hambali had planned the bombing of Caday's house, which seriously injured the ambassador. Intelligence officials said that they suspect Hambali, now the most wanted man in Southeast Asia, is also linked to the Bali bombing.
An East Java native, al-Ghozi taught an explosives training course in the mid-1990s at Camp Abubakar, a militant training camp in the southern Philippines, which authorities have since shut down, said Zachary Abuza, a U.S. security analyst at Simmons College in Boston. According to Philippine military analysts, Hambali visited the camp in 1998.
Regional intelligence officials last month said that Hambali, at a mid-January meeting in southern Thailand, spoke of attacking "soft targets" such as bars, nightclubs and cafes in the region. Some regional analysts said they believe that authorities, particularly in Indonesia, lost a prime opportunity to prevent the Bali blasts because they did not follow up on the intelligence.
Links between al-Ghozi, Hambali and Baasyir continue to emerge. According to a Philippine intelligence official, al-Ghozi told interrogators he met with Hambali and Baasyir in Manila before a series of bombings in that city in December 2000. They gave him about $23,000 to buy additional explosives that authorities believe were intended for use in a foiled operation to bomb Western embassies in Singapore.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said this week that al Qaeda had boasted on Web sites about the Bali bombing as well as other attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait.