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Background: Bali Attack Aftermath

Bill Neely and Ian Williams of Independent Television News report on the aftermath of the bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali.

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    The search for the Bali bombers is minute and multinational– Scotland Yard, the FBI, French, German, and Australian investigators arriving to comb for clues and finding them. The detonator attached to a motor bike near the nightclub; in it, military-grade chemicals. They're now tracing the plastic explosive C4 found here, the same type used by al-Qaida to attack a U.S. warship; all of this pointing to terrorists with connections, training, and money. Police are still questioning two men, but they've made no arrests, and they are trying to link this man to the bomb, Abu Bakar Bashir, the leader of Islamic militants.


    Yes, we have been trying to find evidence about this, not only in Bali, but also in the incident before.


    This is the group Bashir leads, training with Islamic militants from other countries before the bomb blast that has shaken southeast Asia. Bali follows a spate of smaller attacks, blamed on these radical groups. Jemaah Islamiyah, led by Bashir, is based in Indonesia, but active in the Philippines and Malaysia. Another Indonesian group is Laskar Jihad. Led b Jafar Umar Thalib, it, too, has links to al-Qaida. The group says it's disbanding from its base. No one believes it's going away. The third major group in the region is Abu Sayyaf, let by Khadaffy Janjalani in the Philippines and responsible for killing an American soldier this month. It is a region under threat.


    Abu Bakar Bashir went to court this morning not to be questioned, but to launch his own legal action. The accusation that he is Asia's bin Laden possibly linked to the Bali bomb have turned him into an instant celebrity, and he seems to be relishing it. The hard-line cleric slapped a $100 million lawsuit against "Time" Magazine for alleging he has terrorist links, an accusation now supported by western governments. It was the start of a long day in the spotlight for a man trying to turn the tables on his accusers.

  • ABU BAKAR BASHIR (Translated):

    I'm willing to be interrogated. I challenge the investigators and the government to prove it. I'm willing to be called in to clear this up. Where is the evidence? Where is the evidence?


    Can you say categorically that you had no connection to the Bali bomb?

  • ABU BAKAR BASHIR (Translated):

    I have no connection at all, no connection at all. I really don't understand how it can have happened. I only know what I've seen on TV.


    As the militants were having their day in the limelight, the Australian foreign minister was urging the Indonesian President Megawati to take a tougher line with them. Publicly, he said he was happy with proposed new laws.


    If the Indonesia government does move ahead with this regulation as a thoughtful measure for giving the government greater powers in dealing with suspected terrorists, then that will be an important step forward.


    But those who have studied hard-line Islam here say the West and Indonesia's neighbors have yet to make their case against Bashir.


    Clearly, at this stage there's no evidence linking him to the Bali bombings. He has been mentioned over and over again, including by people who have been arrested and detained for involvement in other bombings, but all fairly small-scale. He may be an al-Qaida wannabe. It's not clear that he has the capacity to actually carry a big operation off. If there is evidence, and I think that the Americans, Singaporeans and Malaysians are convinced there is, then I think a lot of Indonesians that would like to see it and be convinced that he is a danger in fact.


    At the Bali bomb site, the search for evidence is proving a slow and painful process. Police today have said they have identified the plastic explosive which was packed into the roof of a van, but they can't yet determine who might have been capable of making such a bomb.

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