JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian authorities early today executed three men convicted of helping to plan and carry out bombings that killed 202 people on the resort island of Bali six years ago.
Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron were put to death by firing squad at a maximum security prison on Nusa Kambangan island at 12:15 a.m., according to a statement by Jasman Panjaitan, a spokesman for Indonesia’s attorney general.
The bodies were flown by helicopter to their hometowns for burial.
News of execution brought various reactions in Indonesia. Supporters of the trio prayed and shouted “God is great” near a dock that serves as the only gateway to the island prison. The relatives of bombing victims expressed relief in statements to Indonesian media.
The October 2002 attacks on nightclubs in Bali were carried out by two suicide bombers. One man walked into Paddy’s Club and detonated a bomb, killing himself and several other people. Moments later, a second man detonated a car bomb outside the nearby Sari Club, killing nearly 200 people.
Samudra was convicted as a lead organizer and Gufron, whose alias was Mukhlas, of masterminding the attacks. Amrozi was found guilty of buying the van and the potassium chlorate and other ingredients used to make the explosives.
They intended to target Americans, and eight U.S. citizens were killed in the blasts. But the toll was far higher among Australian tourists: 88 were among the dead.
In the weeks before today’s executions, several Islamist groups held rallies in front of the attorney general’s office in Jakarta to seek a review of the case and visited the homes of the condemned men’s relatives to express support. Family members sold black T-shirts carrying the message, “Even if Amrozi and friends are executed, jihad (holy war) will go on.”
Some analysts questioned whether carrying out the death penalty in the case would have much visible effect on Islamic extremism in Indonesia.
“It won’t further weaken the movement, because the weakening is happening through good law enforcement, penetration of networks,” said Sidney Jones, senior adviser in Indonesia to the International Crisis Group, a think tank. “Not by removal of three men who have been out of circulation for more than five years.”