In the early morning hours of Sunday, the Indonesian security forces executed by firing squad the three Islamists responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings. Security forces all over the country were on high alert, fearing violent backlashes from the bombers’ sympathisers.
Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, one of the Bali bombers executed on Sunday, never expressed any remorse
Hundreds of Islamic extremists poured out onto the streets of the small village of Tenggulu in East Java on Sunday, chanting God is Great and calling for Jihad against the West.
The protesters gathered at the funeral site of the two brothers Amrozi and Mukhlas, who, were executed by the Indonesian authorities on Sunday, along with the Imam Samudra.
The three men had been sentenced to death for their involvement in a bomb attack on a nightclub on the resort island of Bali, which killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists, in 2002.
Protesters clash with police
As the bodies of Amrozi and Mukhlas arrived by helicopter in Tenggulu, sympathisers of the executed bombers clashed with police. Similar scenes were witnessed at Serang in West Java, when Samudra’s body was flown in.
The hardline Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir led the prayers at the burial service of the two brothers. Bashir is the co-founder and spiritual leader of the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiya.
He was also arrested on charges of conspiracy related to the 2002 bombings, but was released in 2006.
Bashir paid a visit to the bombers' family before the executions: ‘’We are sad,” he said, “but also happy that they are being executed. Then they will die as heroes.’’
In Tenggulu, supporters carried banners also declaring the two brothers as martyrs.
But there were some in the village who showed no sympathy: ‘’The execution was just an enforcement of the law. We are not making any accusations against the government because of that. No matter where these men came from, when they have been charged as guilty, they have to be punished,” one villager said.
Fear of revenge acts
Before being executed, the bombers called for more attacks in interviews given to various television channels.
The Indonesian authorities now fear there might be further attacks as acts of revenge for the executions. But in an interview with an Australian radio channel, Greg Fealy from the Centre for Indonesian Studies at the Australian National University said that a backlash was not likely from mainstream Muslims, who have very little admiration for the bombers.
He said that many mainstream Muslim leaders blamed the bombers for the negative global image of Indonesian Muslims.
‘’The only place where there may be a reaction is amongst strongly Islamist fringes of the Islamic community and particularly those most extreme elements that might be drawn towards Jihadism,” Fealy explained.
“And it’s possible that those sections of community that probably do regard the Bali bombers as martyrs will feel very grave. There may be some small protests and it’s also possible that some of the committed Jihadists or people who have engaged in violence in the past may try to launch an attack.’’
US and Australia advise caution
Already, two of the bombers’ sympathisers have been arrested for making bomb threats.
The Australian and US embassies have also received threats. They have advised their nationals to keep a low profile and avoid unnecessary travel.
According to media reports, 3500 police officers have been deployed in Bali alone. Security has been beefed up at all embassies and tourist locations.