- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Feb. 11 (UPI) — The alleged field commander in last October's Bali bombings in which nearly 200 people died, claimed Tuesday that the main targets of the attack were Americans, although many of the people who were killed were Australian.

"The main target in the Legian bomb attacks was Americans and its allies, because the U.S. is the main terrorist in the world," Ali Imron told a news conference.

"A blast at outside the U.S. consulate in Bali was a warning for the America," Imron said. "I vow as a Muslim that what happened in Bali was purely our group. Nobody backed us or sponsored us."

Imron said that at the time of the bombing he didn't know whether Australia was a U.S. ally. Some 88 Australians died in the bombings of two nightspots on the Legian entertainment strip of Kuta, Bali.

Besides the two bombs at the Kuta nightclubs that exploded Oct. 12, killing at least 193 people and injuring more than 300 others, another bomb was placed at nearby the U.S. consulate in Bali's capital Denpasar, but no one was injured in that attack.

Imron said that Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Baasyir was the leader of his group, but he said he was unsure whether the Baasyir knew of the Bali bombings in advance. Baasyir is the alleged spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah radical Muslim organization that many officials believe was behind the Bali blast.

JI, whose alleged goal is to establish a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia, is believed to have links with al Qaida.

"If we look at it from the beginning … I admit that he (Baasyir) was our group's leader," Imron said, adding that in this case he received no direct order from Baasyir to carry out the attack.

"He (Baasyir) was not involved but it's my assumption he that he knew (of the bombing plan). This is (only) an assumption," said Imron.

During the news conference, Imron also expressed regret over the attack and apologized to the victims of the bombings.

"I cannot deny my heart. I regret this and I beg forgiveness from the families of the victims, from Indonesia and from other countries," Imron said.

He said the bombs exploded outside the Sari club in Kuta contained nearly 2,500 pounds of black powder. The bombs were assembled by Imron and five other suspects, all of whom are still at large. They were packed into 12 filing cabinets and parked outside the Sari club, the suspect said.

Imron is the younger brother of Amrozi, the owner of an L-300 Mitsubishi minivan that was used to carry the bomb.

Inspector General I Made Mangku Pastika, chief of the joint investigation team probing the Bali bombings identified Imron as the field commander in the bombing.

In addition to Imron, police have detained at least 24 other people in connection with the Bali bombings.




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