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Investigators Link al-Qaida to Bali Bombing - 2002-11-08


Indonesia's defense minister says the al-Qaida terror network is apparently linked to the deadly bomb attack in Bali that killed at least 180 people. His comments come as authorities gain new information from a key suspect in the investigation.

Indonesia's defense minister says evidence suggests that the Bali blast is linked to the al-Qaida network and to a Southeast Asian group, called Jemaah Islamiyah. Matori Abdul Djalil says this is based partly on information provided by a suspect, identified by the name Amrozi, now in policy custody.

Mr. Djalil tells local reporters that Mr. Amrozi is a member of Jemaah Islamiyah. Indonesian investigators say Mr. Amrozi confessed to owning the van that was packed with explosives and parked outside the Sari club, a popular bar in Bali's Kuta tourist district. The bar was particularly popular among Australians. Indonesia's chief investigator, Police General Made Pastika, says Mr. Amrozi expressed regret that most of the casualties in the blast were Australians. He says the bombers intended to kill Americans. More than 180 people died in the October 12 blast. The general says that, based on Mr. Amrozi's testimony, authorities now know where the bomb was constructed, and authorities are searching the location. He says traces of the chemical used to make the bomb were found at the location. Mr. Amrozi was arrested in East Java earlier in the week, and flown to Bali for questioning by international investigators. General Pastika also said Mr. Amrozi has admitted to meeting Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir and terror suspect Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali. The United States and regional governments say Mr. Bashir is the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah or JI a militant group allegedly linked to al-Qaida, and recently added to the U.S. State Department's terrorist list. Riduan Isamuddin is suspected of being the group's operational leader. Indonesian authorities have not linked Mr. Bashir to the Bali bombing.

General Pastika says that, even if Mr. Amrozi had met Mr. Bashir, that does not necessarily mean Mr. Bashir is connected to the Bali blast. Mr. Bashir is in a police hospital in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, where he is being questioned about his alleged involvement in a different terrorist incident. He has consistently denied any links to terrorism. Riduan Isamuddin's whereabouts are not known.