Indonesian militant Umar Patek was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in making the explosives used in the October 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people.
Judge Encep Yuliadi, chairman of the panel that presided over the trial in Jakarta, said Patek’s fleeing Indonesia after the Bali attack was a factor in the sentencing decision. Prosecutors had sought life in prison.
“We are very disappointed,” Patek’s lawyer Asludin Adjani said after the verdict was read late yesterday. “The defendant admited his crimes, but it was under psychological pressure from people closest to him and his seniors. He didn’t have the ability to stop those things, even though he tried to.” Patek may appeal the sentencing, Adjani said.
The U.S. had offered a reward of $1 million for Patek, who was arrested last year in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden.
Indonesia, a secular state with the world’s biggest population of Muslims, has stepped up raids against terror suspects since bombings in 2009 at Jakarta’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels killed nine people, including the two attackers. They were the first terrorist attacks in the country by Islamic militants in almost four years.
Patek’s trial started in February, one year after that of Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who also faced terrorism charges for his role in the Bali attacks. Like Bashir, Patek is thought to be a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, according to a profile on the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center website.
Patek was charged with premeditated murder for his role in making the bombs used in the Bali attacks, as well as conspiracy to commit terrorism and aid terrorists, according to a copy of the indictment. He used 11 aliases in addition to his birth name, Hisyam Bin Alizein, the indictment said.
Patek first used his bombmaking skills in 2000, when Bali bombing mastermind Imam Samudra asked him to make explosives to attack churches on Christmas Eve, according to the indictment. Samudra, who was executed in 2008 for his role in the bombings, later asked Patek to help kill foreigners in Bali by making the explosive devices, it said.
Patek and a friend he met in Pakistan in the early 1990s took three weeks to blend the explosive mixture of potassium chlorate, sulfur and aluminum powder used in the Bali attack, the indictment said.
After the Bali attacks, Patek spent seven years in the southern Philippines working with militant group Abu Sayyaf, according to the indictment. The group helped fund his move to Pakistan, where he stopped before a planned move to Afghanistan to fight U.S. troops, it said.
Bashir, whose trial began Feb. 10 last year, was convicted of funding terrorism and sentenced to 15 years in prison in June. An Indonesian court later reduced the term to nine years, the Associated Press reported.
In September 2009, police killed militant leader Noordin Mohammad Top, who was suspected of involvement in every major anti-Western attack in Indonesia since 2002. In March of the same year they killed terrorist leader and suspected Bali bomber Dulmatin and two others.
In March this year, Indonesia’s Detachment-88 anti-terrorism squad killed five suspected terrorists on Bali. The men had jihad literature, weapons and ammunition in their possession and were planning robberies to fund attacks, police said.
Authorities have data that links the men to Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, known as JAT, a group founded by Bashir, Ansyaad Mbai, head Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency, said at the time.
Bashir was found guilty of funding terrorism and sentenced on June 16, 2011, five years after his acquittal for links to the Bali bombings. The October 2002 attacks on a Bali nightclub are blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda linked group.
The conviction was the first for Bashir, 73, on terrorism charges, though he has served two jail terms since 2003. He was arrested in 2010 and charged with contributing funds to an Islamic militant training camp in Aceh province.
The camps were financed in part by JAT, which Bashir established in 2008. The group advocates the full application of Islamic law in Indonesia, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. The U.S. in February designated JAT as a foreign terrorist organization.
The country’s anti-terrorist unit killed the five men during gun battles March 18 in Sanur and Denpasar, Saud Usman Nasution, a spokesman for the National Police, said at the time. The districts, on Bali’s southeast coast, are popular among tourists.
The men were planning to rob jewelry stores, money changers and cafes to provide cash for future attacks, Nasution said.
In July 2011, Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency asked local authorities for help to identify extremist activity after a bomb exploded inside an Islamic boarding school in West Nusa Tenggara and weapons were discovered at the site.
Potential “pockets of terrorism,” exist in Bali, Java, Aceh, Sumatra, East Kalimantan and West Nusa Tenggara, Mbai said July 25. “The terrorists are not stopping their action,” and the government wants to stop them before they can carry out attacks.”
At 153 kilometers (95 miles) by 112 kilometers, Bali is a little larger than Rhode Island and attracts more than a third of all visitors to Indonesia with a mix of nightlife and surfing in the southern beach resorts near the airport, and rice terraces, temples and local culture around Ubud in the volcanic, mountainous center.
Foreign tourists who came to Bali rose to 2.8 million people in 2011 from 2.5 million people a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy’s website. Tourist numbers from Australia to Denpasar, the Balinese capital, were 770,867 last year, the biggest among other countries, followed by China, Japan and Malaysia.