M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
An Indonesian militant who said he wanted to kill Americans went
on trial for last year's Marriott bombing at the South Jakarta
District Court on Monday and could be sent to the firing squad if
Defendant Mohammad Rais, alias Edi Endra, 29, was charged under
Law No. 15/2003 on terrorism for organizing acts of terror that had
caused mass fear and destruction to vital objects.
The Marriott bombing on Aug. 5, 2003, killed 12 people -- mostly
Indonesians, including six drivers and a Dutch banker -- and injured
"I regret that there were Muslims among the victims. They were
not my targets. My targets were Americans," Rais said after the
hearing was adjourned until Feb. 4 by presiding judge Johanes E.
Binti to hear his defense plea.
"I am ready to be held responsible because I was involved."
When the defendant entered the courtroom, dozens of his
supporters broke into a deafening chant of Allahu Akbar
(Allah is great).
Prosecutors, who took turns reading the 52-page indictment, said
that Rais -- an accomplice of the two most wanted suspects in the
Marriott blast, Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohd. Top --
introduced Asmar Latin Sani, the Marriott suicide bomber, to the two
Malaysians before they executed the attack.
The defendant asked Asmar to take part in a "jihad mission",
including sacrificing his life "as the Palestinians are doing".
"The defendant, along with Azahari and Noordin, from September
2002 to January 2003, plotted and arranged for other people to carry
out an act of terror," state prosecutor Andi Herman told the court.
Azahari -- believed to be the master bombmaker for several
attacks attributed to the UN-listed Jamaah Islamiyah terrorist group
-- asked Asmar to prepare a vest with pockets for explosives to be
used for a suicide bombing mission. Asmar died instantly when the
van he drove blew up in the hotel's driveway.
The indictment said that Rais helped Azahari and Noordin collect
explosive material -- three kilograms of TNT and detonators -- that
would be transported to Jakarta to blow up four possible targets.
Rais was also alleged to have delivered a message from al-Qaeda
leader Osama bin Laden to Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'ashir in
2001, after he completed his religious training in Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Ba'ashir is currently serving three years at the Cipinang
penitentiary, East Jakarta, after being found guilty of immigration
offenses and forging documents, but acquitted of all terror-related
Rais, a graduate of the Al-Mukmin Islamic boarding school in
Ngruki, Central Java, which was co-founded by Ba'ashir, is the
second defendant to be tried in the Marriott bombing case.
The first was Sardona Siliwangi who was tried at the Bengkulu
District Court. Prosecutors have accused him of violating the
antiterrorism law by possessing explosives and called last Friday
for a nine-year prison term for him.
Primary suspects in the bombing, Azahari and Noordin, are still
on the run after they have deftly been able to elude police attempts
to capture them over the last several months.
The two were also alleged to have substantial roles in the Bali
blast on Oct. 12, 2002, which killed 202 people, mostly foreign