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Suspect in Bali Attack on Trial

June 16, 2003|From Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A man who prosecutors allege fought alongside Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan went on trial today on charges of planning and channeling the funds for last year's Bali bombings.

Police say that Ali Gufron is the operations chief of Jemaah Islamiah, the regional terror group blamed for the Oct. 12 nightclub blasts that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Jemaah Islamiah is affiliated with the Al Qaeda network, authorities say, and is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization.

The 43-year-old Islamic cleric raised his fist and shouted, "God is great!" after he entered the temporary courthouse on the resort island.

Gufron, also known as Mukhlas, is the third key suspect to stand trial in the Bali attacks.

Prosecutor Putu Indriati told the court that Gufron had "general responsibility" for the attack. "When he heard on the radio about the bomb exploding on Bali, he thanked God because the plan had succeeded and many of the victims were America's allies, including Australians," she said.

She alleged that Gufron attended a meeting in February 2002 in Bangkok, the Thai capital, where three other conspirators in the attack agreed to "undertake a Jihad operation" in Indonesia against the United States and its allies.

Gufron divided up funds and gave money to other suspects to pay for explosives, equipment and expenses incurred while planning the attack, she alleged.

Security was tight at the courthouse. Hundreds of police patrolled the building and manned roadblocks on nearby streets.

Indriati alleged that Gufron visited Bali twice in the months before the attacks and on three consecutive nights toured the nightclub strip that was bombed.

If he is found guilty, Gufron faces the death penalty under anti-terror laws rushed through in the days after the bombings.

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