Justice finally caught up with Bali bombers
Justice has caught up with all of the Bali bombers, a significant comfort for those still grieving for their victims 10 years later.
Those responsible for the atrocity – the planners, recruiters, bomb makers, bombers, chemical experts, financiers, drivers, protectors, all operatives big and small – have met their fate.
Three were tried, convicted and executed, shot by firing squad.
Four were killed in shootouts with police after years on the run.
Some are still behind bars. Two died in the bomb blasts themselves.
But one way or another, all of the conspirators have been dealt with.
The four key players killed in police raids in Indonesia and the Philippines between 2003 and 2011 were mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top, explosives experts Dulmatin and Fathur Rohman Al-Ghazi, and bomb maker Azahari Husin.
Al-Qaeda’s southeast Asian boss Hambali was arrested in Thailand in 2003 and remains in American custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The last major piece of the puzzle wasn’t completed until 2011, when bomb maker Umar Patek was captured in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where US forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden four months later. Patek is serving 20 years in prison after being on the run for almost nine years.
Families and friends of the 202 Bali victims, including three New Zealanders and 88 Australians, must have wondered at times if justice would ever catch up with all of the perpetrators of Australia’s worst peacetime loss of life on foreign soil.
But authorities in Indonesia and Australia can now draw some satisfaction from successfully completing manhunts conducted over all those years in many countries.
They have got their men, and have tied up all the loose ends.
No one is left wondering any more.
That alone must help the healing process for the friends and families directly affected by such a huge loss, freeing them from one potentially chronic drain on their emotional energies.
It’s the least they deserve after what they have been through.
That ordeal has included, over and above the raw pain of their losses, suffering taunts from the killers including the so-called “smiling assassin” Amrozi.
The absence of any trace of contrition from Amrozi caused profound anguish among the families, and outrage among politicians and the public, when photographs of his sneering face were plastered across newspapers in 2003.
Chief investigator General I Made Mangku Pastika once said of Amrozi: “Doing his duty to God, he shows no regret. He’s very calm, very cool… proud of his activities.”
Amrozi smiles no more. He, his brother Mukhlas and fellow perpetrator Abdul Aziz were all executed by firing squad in 2008.
The wheels of justice may have turned slowly, but turn they have.
That has saved the families from tormenting themselves with thoughts of killers still on the loose, leaving their minds free to devote to the memories of those they loved and lost.
That’s one blessing to count on the 10th anniversary.