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Witness Links Al-Qaida to Bali Bombing - 2003-07-31

An Islamic militant testifying at the trial of a suspect in last October's Bali bombing says the al-Qaida terrorist network may have financed the deadly attack. The testimony is the first linking al-Qaida directly to the bombing, in which 202 people were killed.

Islamic militant Wan Min Wan Mat says he handed over more than $35,000 to one of the suspects in the Bali bombing - money that he was told came from al-Qaida.

Wan Min Wan Mat is in prison in Malaysia for alleged terrorist activities. He testified via videophone in the trial of Ali Ghufron, one of the major suspects in the bombing. Mr. Ghufron also goes by the name of Mukhlas.

The witness said he gave Mr. Ghufron the money in three installments while both men were in Thailand last year. He said Mr. Ghufron told him the money had come from al-Qaida - although he could not confirm this because he was, in his words, "just the deliveryman."

Indonesian police say Mr. Ghufron is a ranking operative of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Islamic terrorist group that they say carried out the Bali attack. The governments of several regional countries and the United States say that JI, as the group is known, is the Southeast Asian affiliate of al-Qaida. JI seeks to establish an Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia.

Mr. Ghufron had earlier established a link between al-Qaida and himself. He testified that he had met al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden many times when he was in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But on Thursday, he denied receiving money from Wan Min Wan Mat for use in the Bali attack.

Two-hundred-two people were killed on October 12 when two bombs ripped through a crowded tourist district on the Indonesian resort island. Authorities call the attack the worst terrorist incident in Indonesia's history.

Mr. Ghufron is one of 35 suspects arrested for taking part in the bombing, and is one of four suspects currently on trial in the case.