The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bali kingpin welcomes martyrdom

Jakarta, Aug. 11 (Reuters): The suspected mastermind of the Bali bombings used his day in court today to thank Indonesian prosecutors for demanding a death sentence and said execution by firing squad would bring him closer to God.

As Imam Samudra expressed defiance, momentum grew within the government to impose draconian security laws to fight terrorism after last week’s bomb attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

Police said they had a list of suspects and their investigation was homing in on two top bomb makers of the shadowy militant Jemaah Islamiah group.

Samudra, a 33-year-old Muslim computer expert, spoke to a court that less than a week ago sentenced the “smiling bomber”, Amrozi, to death for his role in the bombings of two Bali nightclubs that killed 202 people last October.

Amrozi, a disciple of radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir — suspected spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group blamed for the Bali attacks — appealed against his conviction today. He had said he would welcome martyrdom.

Samudra, too, said he would welcome such a death.

“I’d like to say thank you to the prosecution team, which has demanded the death sentence. Because in death we live peacefully, and in death we draw near to God,” Samudra told the court.

Wearing the loose white shirt and skull cap he favours to distinguish him as a Muslim believer, he began his statement by reciting verses in Arabic from the Quran.

“I’m ready to die a martyr,” he shouted as he was led from the courtroom. His trial resumes on Thursday.

Political analysts say prosecutors’ demands for tough sentences mean the world’s most populous Muslim nation wants to show it is serious about tackling Islamic militancy, especially after the bombing of the US-run Marriott Hotel.

Military chief General Endriartono Sutarto, who is close to President Megawati Sukarnoputri, backed calls from ministers for a tough internal security law. He said an escalation of terrorist acts in Indonesia could only be dealt with through an internal security act.

Such laws exist in nearby Singapore and Malaysia.

Like other Bali accused, Samudra and Amrozi were students of the elderly Bashir, on trial in Jakarta for treason linked to his alleged leadership of JI, which is seen as the Southeast Asian arm of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida.

Bashir sent a message from his jail cell to a congress of his Mujahidin Council of Indonesia in central Solo on Sunday, urging Muslims not to fear being labelled “terrorists”. He was likely to be re-elected as emir, or spiritual leader, of the MMI tomorrow.

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