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Indonesia Court Sentences Planner of Australia Embassy Bomb to Death

  • Tim Johnston

A court in Indonesia has sentenced to death one of the ringleaders of last September's car bomb attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Iwan Darmawan was found guilty of helping plan and carry out the attack, which killed 10 people. It was the most recent attack by al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Indonesia, but few people expect it to be the last.

Iwan Darmawan, better known as Rois, punched the air as he was sentenced by a south Jakarta court to face a firing squad. Speaking to journalists from his holding cell shortly afterwards, he said he believed he would die a martyr.

Rois was a key player in the plot that placed a delivery van packed with almost a ton of homemade explosives outside the main gate of the Australian embassy in central Jakarta last September 9.

Eleven people were killed, including the suicide bomber, embassy guards and passersby, and a young mother waiting to pick some documents. No Australians were killed or injured.

Rois was accused of controlling the money that was used to mount the attack and being part of the group that surveyed the target 10 days before the bombing.

As Judge Rocki Panjaitan read out the sentence - "mati," or death - a group of Rois' supporters shouted "Allah-u-Akbar," - God is greatest.

During the trial, however, the court also heard that two Malaysian men were the real masterminds behind the embassy attack, along with the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing and the attack on the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003. They are Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohammed Top. Both are still at large - Southeast Asia's most wanted men.

Rois is the fourth militant to be sentenced to death for terrorism in Indonesia since the Bali bombing, and dozens of others have been given long prison terms. Analysts say that although the militant network that supported the attackers has been severely damaged by the arrests and convictions, it hasn't been destroyed, and many in Jakarta believe more attacks are inevitable.

Australia has become a target largely because of its support for Washington's policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. Only last week, an American linked to al-Qaida released a tape threatening attacks on Los Angeles and Australia's second city, Melbourne.

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