Amrozi's death sentence brings cheers, but also fears

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2003, 12:00am

Security experts say his execution would increase the chance of revenge attacks

While the relatives of Balinese and Australian victims cheered the death sentence handed to Amrozi, the first of the Bali bombers to go on trial, security experts fear his execution will provoke more attacks.

Diplomats and analysts have warned that the court has effectively turned Amrozi into a martyr and that other members of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the regional terrorist group blamed for the Bali bombings, are likely to seek revenge for his death.

'There is a strong opinion here that the verdict could spark attacks,' said one western security analyst in Jakarta.

The security analyst said although police were on high alert for such attacks, they were overstretched before the Jakarta hotel bombing.

'A number of foreign interests and companies were informed by the police that they don't have the capacity to do this stuff. The police asked them to provide their own security,' he said.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that there could be more terrorist attacks in Indonesia in the next few days as a result of the verdict.

He also warned of possible attacks on August 17, Indonesia's national day.

One western diplomat said: 'Another attack is a possibility, especially if you believe the threats by JI members in the paper.'

Singapore's Straits Times yesterday reported that a man claiming to be a member of Jemaah Islamiah had rung its Jakarta bureau and claimed that Tuesday's attack on the JW Marriott hotel was a warning not to dismantle Indonesia's terrorist networks.

Analysts and religious leaders said that regardless of whether attacks were launched, Amrozi would be a martyr for the Islamic radicals and fuel such movements.

'Life in prison would be more effective ultimately to eliminate the possibility of him being treated as a martyr for the Islamic right wing,' said Sidney Jones, from think-tank the International Crisis Group.

A senior member of Nadlatul Ulema, Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, said most Indonesians were convinced that Amrozi and the other alleged bombers were guilty and that they would not oppose the death sentence.

Southeast Asian time bomb - A14