An Indonesian militant charged in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks has told interrogators he spent weeks holed up in a rented house, painstakingly building a huge bomb using household items including a rice ladle, a grocer's scale and plastic bags.
A transcript of Umar Patek's interrogation obtained by the Associated Press offers extraordinary detail of the Bali plot just days before the radical Islamist goes on trial in Jakarta for his alleged role in the nightclub attack that killed 202 people.
Patek, known as "Demolition Man" for his expertise with explosives, says he and other conspirators stashed the 1,540lb bomb in four filing cabinets, and loaded them in a Mitsubishi L300 van along with a TNT vest bomb. The van was detonated outside two nightclubs on Bali's Kuta beach on 12 October 2002. Most of those killed were foreign tourists.
Monday's trial follows a nine-year flight from justice that took Patek from Indonesia to the Philippines to Pakistan, reportedly in pursuit of more terrorism opportunities. He was finally caught in January 2011 in the same Pakistani town where US Navy Seals would kill Osama bin Laden a few months later. Patek was hiding out in a house in Abbottabad, a $1m bounty on his head, when Pakistani security forces, acting on a tip from the CIA, burst in. After a firefight that left Patek wounded, he was captured and extradited to Indonesia. He is charged with premeditated murder, hiding information about terrorism, illegal possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit terrorism, and now faces a possible death sentence as well.
Patek, whose real name is Hisyam bin Alizein, is the son of a goat-meat trader. He went to computer school and learned English before being recruited into Jemaah Islamiyah by a fellow militant, Dulmatin, who was gunned down by Indonesian police in March 2010. After his arrest, Patek told his interrogators that he learned to make bombs during a 1991-94 stint at a militant academy in Pakistan's Sadda province, and later in Torkhom, Afghanistan.
He said he was living in Solo, Indonesia, when Imam Samudra approached him to make a bomb in Bali. He agreed and flew to Denpasar, Bali's capital, and was taken to a rented house. "In one room of the house, I began to mix the explosive ingredients, which were already in the rental house," he said.
"For about three weeks, I made the explosive ingredients into black powder with the assistance of Sawad [a co-conspirator]. For tools used in the mixing of the ingredients, I used [a] scale that would usually be used in a food store, rice ladle and plastic bags as containers."
Patek left Bali a few days before the attacks were carried out. Afterwards, officials said, Patek and Dulmatin went to the Philippines and allegedly joined forces with the local extremist group Abu Sayyaf, spending the next several years training militants and plotting attacks in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Imam Samudra and two other masterminds of the Bali attacks were caught, tried and executed.
Patek returned to Indonesia in June 2009, living in various rented houses in Jakarta. He held several meetings with radicals and aspiring militants at home and held assault rifle and bomb-making training sessions near Jakarta. But Patek's heart was set on going to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban or other extremist groups, said Ansyaad Mbai, Indonesia's anti-terrorism chief. He said that Patek intended to continue his fight in a more defined battleground with a larger radical group.
But to reach Afghanistan, he would have to go to Pakistan first. A police investigator said that a Pakistani in Indonesia, Nadeem Akhtar, helped Patek to get a Pakistani visa from his embassy in Jakarta. After Patek arrived in Lahore, a courier with links to al-Qaida then brought him to Abbottabad, possibly to meet Bin Laden. But before he could make much progress he was caught.