Thursday, May 31, 2012

31-May-12: Highly effective terrorist, now on trial, is really sorry. Not.

Hundreds of dead victims; no wonder he's jubilant.
The smiling Amrozi, from the JI group, before
his career was terminated
by an Indonesian firing squad in 2008 [Source]
A series of horrific bombings in the nightclub zone of the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, 88 of them Australians. 240 other people were injured. Some of the background is in Arnold Roth's "A letter to the families of the Kuta Beach victims", published shortly after the massacre.

Over the years, the Indonesian authorities have captured several of the jihadist fugitives who carried out the Bali outrage as well as other terror attacks on Christian churches, the US consulate and several Indoensian hotels. The organisation at the heart of the terrorist campaign is Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamist group headed by a religious functionary, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir. The Indonesians tried and convicted three: 'Imam' Samudra, Mukhlas (aka Ali Ghufron) and Ghufron's younger brother, the notorious "smiling assassin" Amrozi bin Nurhasyim. They were executed by firing squad in November 2008. Being Islamic terrorists, there was no remorse. All shouted Allahu Akbar in their final moments.

Now it's the turn of Umar Patek. He's on trial in another Indonesian court this week on charges of terrorism and mass murder. An article today ["Bali bombing accused accused begs for leniency"] in the Melbourne Age captures the way in which this jihadist's story is being told:
Umar Patek is a tiny man, pixie-faced and slump-shouldered inside the white baju koko worn by devout Muslims. ''I'm a quiet person, shy, and low in education,'' he told the Herald in an exclusive interview just before his trial... Throughout the four months of his trial at the West Jakarta District Court he has emphasised his smallness, his unimportance. He was ''a deer'', he told the court yesterday, among the ''elephants'' of the plot... In his heart, though, Patek said he knew what he had done. ''My conscience says I am guilty,'' he confided. ''I did mix [explosive] materials.'' Despite this, his lawyers have argued that he should be found not guilty of the bombings, and guilty only of forging passports. He opposed the killing of innocents..."
A British report ['I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart'] takes up the theme:
"An emotional Patek today told a courtroom: 'I still feel guilty.' He later added: 'From the bottom of my heart, I apologize to the victims and their families.' Patek said: 'I knew about the plan. I helped mix some of the chemicals use in the explosives. ... Why didn't I inform the police?'
Yes, indeedie. Quite easy to warm to the "pixie-faced" "little" fellow who really, between you and me, did nothing more serious than mix a mere 50 kg of explosives. And even that he did "half-heartedly only because the person who was mixing looked tired and tense. It's not my soul's calling and it's against my conscience" [an actual quote]. 

And warm to him and his conscience is just what important sections of the media are doing. Today's Reuters report ["Umar Patek apologizes for Jakarta bombings"] dwells on the "I'm so sorry" aspect of this story. So too does Radio Australia ["Accused Bali bomber Umar Patek has asked for forgiveness from the victims of the attacks, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians"] and the UK Daily Mail ["The militant Muslim accused of the Bali bombing which killed over 200 people today apologised for the first time to victims of the atrocity"].

But it's a fairly conditional kind of "sorry" from the terrorist who is on trial for his life. Reuters and others choose not to report that Patek said his role was "small" but it is "Jewish slander'' that has made it seem larger [source]. His real goal had been to "retaliate" for "the killing of Muslims in Palestine". He questioned why this should be done in Bali. After all, he said, "Jihad should be carried out in Palestine instead. But they said they did not know how to get to Palestine" [source].

It happens to be a line of reasoning that resonates well in Indonesia. Just two years ago, that country's minister of justice, Patrialis Akbar, was caught on video telling Al Jazeera that he would like the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists to go to Israel instead and bomb civilians there. His country's government would even give them some practical help. [Elder of Ziyon reported on this in 2010.] 

Writing in the Indonesian Bali Times, Richard Boughton's is one of the few voices that capture the illogic and hypocrisy that infect both media coverage and much public opinion about terrorism in general and this Indonesian case in particular:
There are right people to murder and wrong people to murder, and Umar is merely sorry he murdered the wrong people... He thought preferable victims might have been found in Israel or Palestine... We understand. We understand that Umar Patek is not sorry at all. We watch him speak with dispassionate composure, and spin an outrageous tale of absurd justification. No tear is shed, no groan of regret uttered. [After ten years on the run] someone told Umar that it would be a good idea to apologise at this point. Say you’re sorry. It plays well in the Indonesian courts. You might get out alive. You might get off with just 10 years or so. You might even get a slap on the wrist along with an order to behave. And so he forces out the words which should from the outset have forced themselves from the mouth of any sane or worthy human being. I’m sorry, he says. I’m really very sorry. 
Boughton knows that this sorry from a captured terrorist on trial for his life is meaningless, worthless. Sadly, some of the most influential media channels (and politicians) don't. And so terrorism continues and thrives. The war goes on.

Smiling, smiling, the whole lot of them are smiling: The terrorist Patek shakes hands with the entire team of government prosecutors except one [explanation here] at an adjournment of his trial earlier this year
The "pixie-faced" Patek is charged with being the man whose bomb caused
the Kuta Beach devastation of October 12, 2002

No comments: