Cleric’s Trial Told of Poso’s Bloody Reign of Terror

By webadmin on 12:16 am Aug 24, 2010
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Ulma Haryanto

Jakarta. No remorse crossed the faces of three terrorists on Monday as they told a court how terror defendant Eko Budi Wardoyo had explained jihad for them and described why a traditional market had been selected as one of their targets in Central Sulawesi.

The West Jakarta District Court heard Amril Ngiode, Irwanto Irano and Yudi Heriyanto Parsan – all flown in from Palu, Central Sulawesi – provide graphic details in their testimony against Eko Budi, aka Munsif, an Islamic cleric who is facing 20 years in jail.

Prosecutors say Munsif was the primary adviser behind the attack on the Efatha Protestant Church in Poso in 2004 and the Tentena market bombing in 2005.

The church attack saw the fatal shooting of minister Susiyanti Tinulele, while the market bombing claimed 22 lives.

“Munsif was my teacher. I knew him since 2002, when he taught me to read the Koran from zero at a local mosque,” Amril told the hearing, presided over by Judge Supeno. Amril. Munsif had often spoken of “a different kind of jihad” in his sermons.

“He used to say that jihad meant paying back the Christians for what they had done to the Muslim communities in Poso,” Amril said.

Poso was the scene of bloody fighting between Muslim and Christian gangs beginning in 2000 that left at least 1,000 people from both faiths dead.

Islamic extremists have been blamed for sporadic bombings, shootings and other attacks since then. Security forces have carried out several operations on Sulawesi against Muslim militants they accused of being behind the attacks.

Sentenced to 10 years in prison for conducting a survey of the bombing site and acting as a messenger for Eko, Yudi said 40 of his relatives had been butchered by Christians.

“I wanted revenge. Every Muslim will speak of revenge when they lose brothers and sisters,” he said.

Eko’s lawyer, Nurlan, told the Jakarta Globe it was “normal” at the time for people to speak of hatred and revenge. “Munsif was not the only one. All Ustadz [Muslim clerics] talked of the same things,” he said “The fact that somebody really did what they were preaching was the only difference.”

Scores of people involved in the Poso riots have been arrested, tried and sentenced, but police are still hunting down alleged bomb maker Taufik Buraga, alias Upik Lawanga.

Amril also told the court how he helped Upik assemble the bombs. “He filled casings with TNT and sulphur. I helped stamp the powder mix with a wooden stick,” Amril said, adding that a wooden stick was preferred over iron since the heat caused by the friction could set off the bomb.

“To increase the damage, pieces of iron, each five inches long, were added to the mix. The detonator was to blow off 15 minutes after it was switched on. Our initial target was actually a Catholic school next to the Tentena market, but during our survey the market was more crowded.”

Amril and three others, including Irwandi Irano, who was also involved in the church shootings the year before, decided on two spots in the market where it was the most crowded. The four split into two and approached the designated targets.

“We concealed the bomb in a cardboard box and we carried it around in a black plastic bag. We also bought vegetables so that the box was covered,” Amril said.

He then waited outside with a motorcycle ready while his partner, convicted terrorist Ardin Djanatu, asked a vegetable-seller to watch the plastic bag while he went to buy something else. The timer was already set.

“He left the seller and exited the market to where I was waiting with my bike and we left,” Amril added.

The witnesses said Tentena was selected because most residents were Christians who had scared the Muslims away by slaying those who dared stay.

Nurlan insisted that Eko had a minor role in the incidents and he was hoping his client would get a 10-year jail sentence at most.