Note the title of his book, meaning, of course, that the Americans are the terrorists. (That’s why, evidently, he thought it wise to blow up a bunch of dancers in a nightclub.) Keep that in mind the next time you hear that an Islamic individual or group that denounced terrorism was actually mixed up in it. From AP, :
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Imam Samudra was 16 when he rejected his secular upbringing, beginning a journey into militant Islam that would ultimately claim 202 lives at a nightclub in Bali. In a newly published autobiography written on death row, the 35-year-old attributes his conversion to the disgust he felt at seeing friends skip prayers and girls fail to cover their heads as the Islamic holy book demands.
“I became an introvert, and stopped watching TV and listening to music. My best friends were the Quran and other religious books,” he writes in the book, titled “I Fight Terrorists.”
The “terrorists” referred to in the title are Americans, Samudra explains in the book.
The 280-page paperback offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a militant in the world’s most populous Islamic nation as its secular government struggles against religious fundamentalism….
Samudra argues that the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali nightclub attack was justified, and calls for more suicide operations in Indonesia and elsewhere to avenge America’s support for Israel and its attacks on Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite its inflammatory nature, there have been no calls to ban the book and its release has caused no controversy – reflecting what analysts say is a general indifference toward terror in Indonesia despite the horrors of the Bali blasts and last week’s attack.
Islamic militancy is just one problem in the country of 210 million, which is wracked by ethnic, separatist and religious fighting that has killed more than 10,000 in the last four years alone.
Security minister Hari Sabarno said prosecutors would study the book to see whether it had broken any laws but added that “in this era of democracy we can’t just simply ban books.”
Samudra wrote the book from his cell in Bali on paper provided to him by his family. Its cover depicts him in a white Islamic cap against a fiery orange background.
Profits from “I Fight Terrorists” are being divided among Samudra’s family, his defense attorneys and unnamed charities, his lawyers said. It is on sale for around $3.
Indonesia has no laws preventing convicted criminals from profiting from their actions. Sukirno denies the book glorifies Samudra’s crimes, or could incite more attacks.
“We are presenting the whole story,” he said. “We cannot deny this bombing happened. We hope this book provokes debate.”
Samudra gives few details about the planning for the Bali bombings, which he argues are defensible in Islam.
“The wounds of the Palestinians are not dry, the cries of the weak in Afghanistan have not stopped,” Samudra writes. “The Bali bombings were from a resistance to the American colonizers and its allies.”
“Attacking civilians from the colonizer countries is reasonable and undertaken in the interests of balance and justice,” he writes. “Blood is repaid by blood, life by life, civilian by civilian.”
Hardline rhetoric like Samudra’s is rarely heard in Indonesia, where the practice of Islam is often interspersed with older Hindu and animist beliefs. Calls for solidarity with Muslims in the Middle East do not resonate in this tropical, maritime nation on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
“Samudra does not represent anyone but himself,” said Azyumardi Azra, president of the State Islamic University of Jakarta.
But since the downfall in 1998 of former dictator Suharto, who brutally repressed hardline Islamic groups, a new generation of young radical Muslims have emerged who are likely to be attracted to the book – which is peppered with slang, photos of dead Muslims allegedly killed by U.S. troops and even the occasional cartoon.
Like many other Southeast Asian extremists, Samudra traveled to Afghanistan in the early 1990s to join the CIA-funded resistance to the Russian occupation.
Many of his contemporaries later returned to Southeast Asia and formed the nucleus of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group blamed for the Bali blasts and the embassy attack.
“It truly was a happy time in my life. Our ‘music’ was the crack of bullets and the blasts of mortars … Our songs were those designed to raise the spirit of jihad,” he writes.