Fri, 14 Feb 2003

Experts doubt Bali suspect's claims

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Some experts expressed skepticism on Thursday over claims by a key suspect in the Bali bombings that the terrorists had used a homemade bomb in the attack on the Sari Club, saying the devastation wrought at the scene looked more like the result of a manufactured bomb.

Key suspect Ali Imron showed the police how the terrorists mixed chemicals to build a 1.25 ton bomb that killed over 190 people

But intelligence analyst Djuanda said the chemicals Ali said were used for the bomb did not entirely match the initial findings at the bomb scene.

Police found various traces of explosive materials, including those Ali had mentioned. What was missing on the list was C-4, which Djuanda believed was the main material used in the attack.

"It looks more like a manufactured explosive. I'd say it was C-4," he said referring to a plastic explosive that is widely used in the military due to its ease of use and stability.

In the first days after the attack, intelligence chief A.M. Hendropriyono said the explosion was caused by C-4.

Indonesian police said it was RDX, which is a material used in the production of C-4, but never confirmed the finding of C-4 itself.

Ali said that they had used 279 grams of RDX but only as a detonator for the actual bomb.

That bomb was produced from 900 kilograms of potassium chlorate, a type of fertilizer that is often used to make fish bombs, 75 kilograms of aluminum powder and 150 kilograms of sulfur. They also used 25 kilograms of TNT and 1.5 kilograms of pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN).

Djuanda said that several bomb experts he had spoken to were also skeptical about Ali's explanations regarding the bomb. He said they questioned the type of bomb that was used in the attack, pointing out that Ali's version did not match the scale of the destruction found at the bomb scene.

Another bomb expert, this time from the military, who requested anonymity, also questioned the type of the bomb. He doubted that Ali had used a homemade bomb, noting that such a bomb would have been very unstable, meaning that it could explode easily.

"Their bomb would have been very sensitive to vibration, temperature and light. But wasn't the bomb taken for a ride around Bali?" he asked.

Ali told the police that they loaded the more than 1.25 ton bomb on a Mitsubishi L-300 van and parked it outside the Sari Club. The explosion left only fragments of the van.

The expert added that while assembling a bomb was easy, making the bomb itself was not.

"Just yesterday we made explosives from 100 grams of potassium and kept them at the wrong temperature. They immediately burned up," he said.

He further asserted that the bomb used must have been a manufactured one.

Although Ali's explanations filled in many of the gaps in the investigation, police remain in the dark about the final moments before the blast.

In Bali, a team of international forensic experts finalized their work identifying the victims of the blast, leaving behind 140 bags of body parts whose owners they could not identify.

After 150 days of work, 196 victims had been identified said the head of the Disaster Victims Identification (DVI) team, John Bird, as quoted by Antara.

Australian nationals accounted for 88 of the victims. The remains of most of the identified victims have been sent home. The rest were buried or cremated in Bali.

The body parts in each bag showed on average 10 different DNA readings but many were overlapping ones between the bags, officials said.

The Bali administration plans to bury the unidentified remains after the Australian government signals its approval.