Fri, 05 Sep 2003

'Little terrorist' says Bush, Blair, real terrorists

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

Calling himself "a small-fry terrorist", Ali Gufron, alias Mukhlas, said on Thursday his death would contribute nothing to the global effort to eradicate terrorism.

"In the eyes of the prosecutors, the terrorists are me and the other small-fry terrorists. Whereas in fact the real big-time terrorists are Hitler, Ariel Sharon, George Bush and Blair. They are the ones who have committed crimes against humanity," he told the Denpasar District Court.

He said his death would only please "big-time terrorist countries, Zionist countries and their allies", and console the families of victims and people who suffered losses.

Mukhlas, the alleged leader of the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group in Southeast Asia, said the prosecutors were unable to come up with a clear, complete definition of terrorism.

Prosecutors have demanded the death sentence for Mukhlas, who is charged with planning, conspiring and organizing the Bali bombings on Oct. 12, 2002, which killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

Early last month, Mukhlas' younger brother Amrozi was sentenced to death on similar charges.

Mukhlas also warned that as long as the "big-time terrorist countries" refused to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Muslim countries, terrorism would not be eradicated.

"George Soros, the son of terrorist countries, could instigate an economic crisis in any country he chose. This is an obvious and blatant crime, yet it goes unpunished," he said.

Mukhlas sobbed as he described what he saw as crimes against humanity committed by western countries against Middle East countries.

"For God's sake, if the Kuta tragedy had not shed the blood of their (Western countries') citizens they would have surely turned a blind eye to it," he said.

Mukhlas denied allegations that he was the Southeast Asian regional leader of JI.

During the session, Mukhlas' defense lawyers read out a 43- page defense statement. The trial was adjourned until next Thursday, at which time the court will hear from prosecutors.