Bali bomber Umar Patek records an on-camera interview from an Indonesian prison
Convicted Bali bomber Umar Patek, who is facing imminent parole, recorded an extraordinary on-camera interview from prison about his involvement in the 2002 nightclub bombings.
- A video interview posted on the official Porong Prison YouTube account shows Patek discussing his involvement in the Bali bombings
- The bomber says he has always been against the attacks and that he has been deradicalized
- Patek was recently approved for parole
Patek has been filmed in recent days walking through Porong prison in East Java, chatting with the prison governor, the pair smiling and laughing together for the camera as he casually discussed his role in the terrorist attacks, which killed more than 200 people.
“My mistake was being involved in the Bali bombing,” he told Governor Jalu Yuswa Panjang in the video.
“I told them that I was against it. But they had finished the project at 95%.
“Nine hundred and fifty kilograms of explosives were packed and ready, and they insisted on going ahead.”
The interview appears on Porong Prison’s own YouTube channel, where the prison warden and other authorities regularly post similar interviews with other inmates, including convicted terrorists.
The post comes days after Patek was approved for parole, despite strong objections from the Australian government and outrage from Bali bomb survivors and victims’ families in Australia.
“This morning I joined our brother Umar Patek, our friend from Block F,” the governor says as he introduces the 20-minute video.
“Today we are going to talk to him about who exactly Umar Patek is? A lot of people don’t know. Maybe there are a lot of women who want to know?”
Patek was a senior member of Jemaah Islamiah, the al-Qaeda-linked terror group behind the Bali bombings.
He spent years working with terrorist groups in the Philippines, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and only returned to Indonesia sometime before the Bali bombings to introduce his Filipina wife to her family in Java.
“I did not come to Indonesia to participate in the Bali bomb project,” he tells the prison warden in the video.
“Even when I found out about it, I was so against it, I didn’t agree with it.
“I asked others at the time what the reasons for the attack plan were. There was no reason.”
But Jan Laczynski, a Melbourne man who lost five friends in the Bali bombings, doubted Patek’s claims.
“He says all of this in a high-security prison. It’s very different when you go out and mingle with all the people who initially led him down this path,” he said.
Now 52, Patek served just 10 years of an original 20-year sentence, but his prison term was shortened by multiple remissions for good behavior.
His release from prison now depends on the Jakarta government signing the final documents.
He claimed to have been de-radicalized since being jailed for his role in building the bombs that tore through the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar in October 2002, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
In the prison interview, he tells Governor Panjang that he wants to work with young convicted terrorists once he is released to help eradicate radicalism in Indonesia.
“I would love to work with millennials because they are the ones most susceptible to being infected with the virus of radicalism,” he says.
“I’d like to help the government educate people on the issue, for millennials and possibly terrorist inmates in prisons. I’m open to helping the general management of correctional facilities or other institutions.”
If and when Patek is paroled, he said he plans to work with other reformed terrorists in Tenggulun, a village west of Surabaya where several other Bali suicide bombers came from.
Once a base for radicalism, Tenggulun is now home to a national agenda to end Islamist extremism.
This is the village where the two executed suicide bombers – Amrozi and Mukhlas – grew up. A third brother, Ali Imron, is serving a life sentence.
The national program, called Peace Circle, was founded by their younger brother Ali Fauzi – another former terrorist and member of Jemaah Islamiah who now works to deradicalize others.
It is Ali Fauzi who claims to have deradicalized Patek after visiting him in prison for many years.
“Umar Patek has agreed to leave his old world behind and move on,” he told the ABC.
“His release would be good for society.
“I guarantee 100% that Omar will not commit any more terrorist acts and that he will continue to be involved in deradicalization programs.”
Indonesian authorities also believe that Patek is no longer a threat to society and can do more good outside of prison than inside.
But many others insist that Patek could still pose a terrorist risk.
Muhamad Syauqillah, a terrorism expert in Jakarta, said about 10% of terrorists who are or claim to be de-radicalized may relapse into extremism once released.
He said authorities should continue to monitor them after they return to the community.
“The re-engagement of former prisoners in terrorism depends very much on how authorities handle de-radicalization programs after their release,” he said.
“This process must continue and not stop when he is released.”
Mr Laczynski said he was skeptical of granting parole to a convicted terrorist who committed the crimes committed by Patek.
“You take someone and a big leap of faith. Someone says they’re all fully reformed, but they always say the same thing. They always say it in a high security prison,” he said. declared.
The government and prison authorities could announce their intention to release Patek at any time.
Porong Prison Governor Jalu Yuswa Panjang supported Patek’s parole.
“I hope what Omar said others can take as an example,” he said in the recorded interview.
“Prison is a miniature of how people live in society – in prison life can be conducive, people can live peacefully and comfortably. Why can’t people outside live like this? “