by Andreas Harsono
American Reporter Correspondent
October 14, 2002
ISLAMIC MILITANT SUSPECTED IN BALI BLASTS BLAMES 'AMERICAN AGENTS'
JAKARTA, Oct. 14, 2002 -- An Islamic militant with suspected ties to al-Qaida who became an immediate suspect after a deadly car bomb exploded outside two popular nightclubs packed with foreign tourists on the island of Bali said Sunday he and other Islamic clerics blame "American agents" for the blast.
Abubakar Ba'asyir, the spiritual leader of the radical fundamentalist Jemaah Islamiyah and head of the Indonesian-based Mujahidin Council for Islamic Law, conducted a press conference in Solo, a city 500 miles south of Jakarta where his operation is headquartered, to charge that the bombing was apparently carried out by "American agents." He offered no evidence to support the claim.
A spokesman for Ba'asyor said earlier that the Mujahidin Council was not involved in the blast.
Bas'asyir said more than 50 Muslim leaders in Solo had conducted a discussion and concluded that the U.S. consistently tries to back Indonesian Muslims into a corner and labels them terrorists, "including myself," he said.
"America uses whatever means, history has proven, to achieve its own objectives."
"We called on our Muslim brothers in Indonesia to unite, to believe in Allah, and not to be provoked by American terrorism," he said.
Singapore has called upon Indonesia to arrest Bas'asyir as a terrorism suspect, but Indonesian authiorities say they have no evidence against him.
In Jakarta, his view is shared by some Muslim leaders, including Nur Wahid Hidayat, the president of the Justice Party, which has some seats in the Indonesian parliament. Hidayat also said at a rally in Jakarta that the bombing must have been done by American agents.
Andreas Harsono, a Nieman International Fellow at Harvard in 2000, has been the American Reporter's Indonesia Correspondent since 1995.