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No repentance from Bali bombers

Published: 6:11PM Sunday November 09, 2008 Source: AAP

"They are not criminals, just lost. It's not too late to repent." So read a large black and white sign outside a jail on an island known as Indonesia's Alcatraz, home to three ringleaders of the 2002 Bali bombings.
  
But the word repent was not in the vocabulary of the bombings' mastermind Imam Samudra, senior Jemaah Islamiah figure Mukhlas (aka Ali Ghufron), and his younger brother, the "smiling assassin" Amrozi bin Nurhasyim.
  
The Islamic militants did not utter a single word of remorse over the murders of mostly Western tourists in the nightclub bombings they helped carry out six years ago.
  
And they went to their deaths early this morning shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is greater.
  
It was not the end the Islamic militants wanted.
  
Instead they were marched to a secluded spot on Nusakambangan Island, off Central Java, where their jail was located, and shot dead.
  
They wore aprons marked with an X to help a firing squad send bullets through their hearts.
  
For the families and friends of the 88 Australians killed on October 12, 2002 there may be some comfort in knowing the hatred and vitriol that spewed from the bombers' mouths during their trials has ended.
  
But for others opposed to the death penalty there is concern the executions will make the men into martyrs and fan their jihadist philosophies.
  
The men spent their final days at Batu Prison on Nusakambangan, the super-max facility they called home since being transferred from Bali in 2005.
  
They were moved after a second wave of bombings hit the resort island in 2005, sparking demonstrations by Balinese demanding their immediate executions.
  
Batu, built in 1925, is one of four working prisons on the 30 sq km island, which is separated from Java's south coast by a narrow strait.
  
The bombers were each locked up in separate, windowless cells measuring nine metres by four metres, in a complex closest to the guards' station.
  
Each cell is divided into three areas - a space for a bed, a toilet area, and a tiny exercise yard where the bombers could spend two hours a day jogging on the spot or doing push-ups.
  
They spent most of their time praying and reading religious texts.

There was no privacy; guards perched above could peer directly into their cells.
  
Typically, the three spent only half an hour each week outside their cells when they and about 60 other inmates attended Friday prayers at the prison's mosque.
  
It is not immediately clear how the bombers spent their final hours, but much is known about the paths they took to become terrorists.
  
The seed for the nightclub bombings was planted at a meeting in Bangkok in February 2002, attended by senior members of the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiah who decided to hit "soft targets" popular with foreigners.
  
The gathering of six included Mukhlas, Indonesia's most-wanted man Noordin M Top, and JI's master bombmaker Azahari, who was known as The Demolition Man before he was killed in a police raid in 2005.
  
During the bombers' trial, it was alleged Mukhlas received $US35,000 ($NZ59,361) at the Bangkok meeting to carry out attacks.
  
The money had been entrusted to the right man.
  
Mukhlas was a radical preacher, whose hatred for the West was instilled in him from an early age in the conservative and devout east Java village where he grew up, and where his father Nur Hasyim runs a radical Islamic boarding school.
  
He began his career at the school of extremist Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, before moving to Malaysia and later fighting in Afghanistan.
 
He claimed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a friend, and was active in recruiting foot soldiers for jihad including his younger brother Amrozi, and another brother Ali Imron, who is serving 20 years for the Bali attacks.
  
Amrozi, 46, reviled for laughing at the Bali carnage during his trial, was the operational quartermaster of the bombings, responsible for buying the vehicle and one tonne of explosive chemicals used to make the bombs.
  
But he lacked Mukhlas's intellect and used his own name to buy the Mitsubishi van that carried one of the bombs.
  
Despite Mukhlas's terrorism pedigree, authorities say it was Samudra who masterminded and directed the specific plot to bomb the Sari Club and nearby Paddy's Bar, killing a total of 202 people.
  
Like his accomplices, Samudra was also born into a hard-line Muslim family, in west Java.
  
A computer expert with an oversized ego, he was born Abdul Aziz but adopted his new name meaning "holy teacher of all the oceans" as he tried to raise awareness of alleged atrocities against Muslims around the world. He too underwent training in Afghanistan.
  
During his trial, Samudra tried to downplay his role in the bombings, and at one point pointed the finger at his co-accused.
  
"I suspected the plan to bomb Bali was from Amrozi," he said.
  
But outside the court he bragged about his deeds, declaring himself a killer who wanted martyrdom because it would bring him "near to God".
  
All three bombers claimed they were ready to die. But in recent months, they moved to a different message: that others will take revenge if their executions are carried out.
  
"Execution is the biggest criminal act (possible), especially when it is applied to warriors like us," Mukhlas told reporters in September.
  
"The followers will take revenge actions, other warriors. If anyone kills us, then there will be a (sic) revenge from all over the place.
  
"I've never regretted these bombings ... I will not ask for forgiveness from those infidels."