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Monday, October 12, 2015

12 YEARS : OPEN INVESTIGATIONS - BALI BOMBING 2002

In Memorial To The Victims: October 12, 2002, approximately 11:55 PM

THE JAKARTA POST
By Robert S. Finnegan
01/03/2003
  
On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.


Incredibly brave first responders  Photo Robert S. Finnegan
Investigators and forensics experts from both national and international teams that had quickly been assembled flocked to the crime scene, ostensibly to begin what should have been a long, drawn out exercise in forensics and investigative sleuthing to identify and capture the foot soldiers, coordinators and masterminds behind the attack that has left over 190 known dead, scores missing without
a trace and hundreds more wounded.

It has turned out to be anything but that.


Jalan Legian, Kuta Bali Photo Robert S. Finnegan 2002
The Indonesian government immediately vowed to unite in the hunt for the bombers.

The U.S. government along with the international community seized the opportunity to point the finger at the non-existent (CIA) al-Qaeda group along with Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir as the culprits.


In hindsight, it would appear that perhaps these individuals, given their apparent intimate knowledge of the perpetrators immediately following the bombing should have been included on the investigating team. 

Perhaps if they had we would know more than we do today, which is very little despite the volume of information (or disinformation) being vomited out by the spokesmen for the investigative teams on a daily basis.


Concrete completely stripped from rebar approximately 50 yards from main blast (center left)
Photo Robert S. Finnegan 2002

A creeping sense of foreboding began soon after the forensics people and other investigators (inclusive of Insp. Gen. I Made Pastika and his army of hundreds of supposedly top-notch investigators with virtually unlimited resources at their disposal) announced after only a week and a half that they were wrapping up their on-site work and retreating to the labs to analyze their findings. Astounding work, as it must have set a world record for crime scene forensic analysis.

Given the scope of the bombing and the sheer size of the primary and secondary blast areas - where trace from a plethora of different explosive compounds were swabbed from - this was a feat that escaped even the vaunted investigators working the World Trade Center crime scene in New York, who spent nearly a year literally sifting by hand for evidence at the site. It would appear that the teams on Bali possessed far superior skills and techniques ... or was there something else responsible for their haste in wrapping up so quickly and then sending the rest of the evidence as quickly as possible to the bottom of the ocean off Bali?


Paddy Club bomb, note crater center left     Photo Robert S. Finnegan 2002

At this point in their investigation National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar states for the record that ""traces of a chemical powder used in the bomb"" were found in the van allegedly used to transport the large device. What powder? Even a cursory examination of the crater and primary site immediately following the bombings would make this statement laughable were it not for the circumstances.

If the Mitsubishi L300 van was used in the large blast, the five-foot deep by twenty-foot wide crater indicates that it would have been completely vaporized, including the engine block which they apparently found intact - along with the victims who instantly vanished. Indeed, this begs the question: Where did the investigators obtain this evidence in relation to the crater.


Sanglah Burn Ward, Denpasar
Is it possible that if the van survived the large blast it was because it was parked at the edge of the primary blast zone, packed with small amounts of all the explosives - whose traces were found at the sites - in order to throw off independent investigators?

In addition, there is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), allegedly signed jointly by the National Police and the international investigation team, specifically restricting the scope of the ""investigation links"" and prohibiting international inquiries. Could this at least partially explain why Pastika has continually stonewalled, intimidated and generally obstructed independent investigators during the course of their work?


During the first weeks of the investigation, notables such as State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Chief Hendropriyono, Susilo Yudhoyono, Assembly Speaker Amien Rais and Pastika focused or pretended to focus on foreigners - without specifying ""which"" foreigners - who they said were behind the attack.

Somehow this twisting, turning trail dried up and disappeared into thin air without explanation, along with the evidence shoveled into the sea off Bali.

Are these the statements and actions of professional investigators - or the actions of individuals engaged in a cover-up?

Let's look at the myriad of explosive traces found at the site and subsequently cited individually off and on by investigators and police as ""the explosive"" used in the bombings.

First it was C-4, then RDX. These two are actually the same, the difference being nine percent malleable plastic used in C-4.

So, which is more powerful? RDX - nine percent more powerful than C-4.


By 0700 on 10/13 access was almost impossible  Photo Robert S. Finnegan 2002

Day after day, "international investigators" [again] trotted out a different explosive and combinations of explosives purportedly responsible for the blasts. In addition to C-4 and RDX there was now TNT, Ammonium Nitrate, HMX, Semtex, PETN, ANFO, butane, chlorate and napalm. Everything but the kitchen sink. Was this gross ineptitude? Or another ploy to throw independent investigators off the trail?

For example, had the originators of the napalm theory studied up on the material before opening their mouths they would have known that napalm leaves a sticky, smelly residue on everything, including victims. This was not in evidence at the blast site or at the Sanglah burn ward and morgue, where the burn victims were taken. Therefore, in the absence of any physical evidence, napalm must be excluded and the originators of this farce be awarded a grade of ""F"" in ""explosives analysis."" In other words, if you are going to lie, be professional about it at least know what you are lying about and have the mental capacity to remember what you said when you said it. This single evidentiary template could easily be applied and extended to the entire ""official investigation"" of the Bali bombings where deceit, obstruction and obfuscation are and have been the name of the game.


Sari Club fireball rolled down adjacent lane  Robert S. Finnegan
To put this in perspective, let us look at three of the explosives claimed by official investigators to have been used in the bombings, starting with the compound that has the lowest velocity of detonation in feet per second (FPS) which is Potassium Chlorate at 3,500 FPS; compared to 12,000 FPS for Ammonium Nitrate and diesel and finally 27,800 FPS for RDX. In simple terms, at any given distance from ground zero these different explosive compounds will exert pressure in pounds per square inch. 


Damage to people and structures are a result of this pressure in varying degrees depending on the velocity of detonation. 


Stripped rebar    Photo Robert S. Finnegan 2002
Even if RDX were used, the amount needed to cause the level of destruction in evidence at the crime scene should have been in excess of anything available through even the military, who denied possession of the explosive. 

There is also the delivery of the device to be taken into account.


Each of the explosives cited by investigators (with the exception of napalm) have unique and individual characteristics that vary for usage, stability and explosive yield. They require specific detonators for each in order to obtain maximum effect.


Robert S. Finnegan Photo 10/12/2002
Also now at the bottom of the ocean off Bali is the reinforcing bar (rebar) located more than fifty feet from ground zero that had been completely stripped of concrete as a result of the blast. Documented military estimates of the force required to accomplish this is roughly 1 million to 1.5 million pounds per square inch. What kind of weapon or device could accomplish this? And for that matter leave a crater of that size? Why was it filled in? This arguably could have been one of the most important pieces of evidence available to investigators not only for the trace explosive in evidence, but from which also could have been determined (roughly) the size and composition of the device.


With the police claiming (off and on) that Amrozi, Mukhlas and Samudra (who allegedly at one point denied involvement in the Bali bombings) were the perpetrators of the blasts, then why do the official investigators not know EXACTLY the type of device used in the main bombing and its precise composition? To put it quite simply, how can we have a bomber or bombers in the absence of a bomb? 


Sanglah Hospital list of missing victims           Photo Robert S. Finnegan 2002

Why were Amrozi and Samudra so quick to confess and finger their ""accomplices""? Were these the actions of dedicated, radical, Islamic fundamentalists? ""Professionals""? Did they expect to further their cause by eviscerating their own organization? Does it make sense that they were willing to kill and maim hundreds of innocents - including many fellow Indonesians - and yet implicate their comrades to save their own skins?

Given this dismal investigative performance, exactly what role did the international investigating team play in this debacle?


Robert S. Finnegan 2002
If indeed there is one thing that has been glaringly apparent throughout this investigation, it is that perhaps nothing close to the truth has been told as of today. 

It is also apparent that something is very, very wrong not only with the procedural aspects of this case, but also with the suppression and outright destruction of evidence. 

The international investigators bear a heavy responsibility for this, and should be held accountable.





Jakarta Post Editor Robert S. Finnegan is an internationally published investigative reporter with over two decades investigative experience. He currently holds an Alaska (U.S.) Private Investigator license.


Timeline: The Bali Bombing, A Comprehensive Overview

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 01/03/2003 7:18 AM

The following timeline is excerpted from reports published in The Jakarta Post unless otherwise attributed.

Tuesday Oct. 15 

Police say C-4 was explosive material used to make bomb.

U.S. says al-Qaeda and Abu Bakar Ba'asyir responsible for bombing.

Hamzah Haz says Muslims not responsible and bombing was "engineered."

Wednesday Oct. 16

HENDROPRIONO says both technology and skills of bombers indicate they are from abroad and must have carried out surveillance before the attack. Bali Police Chief Brig. Gen. Budi Setyawan said there is no indication of al-Qaeda involvement so far.

The Washington Post reports Indonesian police arrest former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who allegedly confessed to building bomb that killed over 180 people and expressed regret for huge loss of life. They are dead wrong. The Indonesian government and military have been proven to know absolutely NOTHING about the bombing, except for the fact that it looked like a CIA operation.

Thursday Oct. 17

Susilo Yudhoyono admits possible involvement of foreigners in bombing.

Authorities focusing on seven "foreigners" suspected to have masterminded and carried out the bombings, a terrorist cell said to have been led by a Yemeni national, his Malaysian deputy and a European with links to Philippine bombings.

Police Chief Brig. Gen. Budi confirms bomb made of RDX.

Indonesian Army Brig. Gen. Ratyono denies Army supplied C-4 to terrorists. Denies Army possesses C-4 "bombs."

Friday Oct. 18

Hendropriono says technology and skills employed by attackers indicate they are from abroad.

Sunday Oct. 20

Pastika says investigation team focusing on four persons, including a security guard and a retired Air Force officer. He was later found to be compromised by the CIA.

Monday Oct. 21

Forensics experts admit some victims could have been completely consumed by blast.

Tuesday Oct. 22

AFP agent Brett Swan says because of scale of explosion "highly organized perpetrators" carried it out.

U.S. declares "technology transfer review" between U.S. and RI as high-tech U.S. items may be found at bomb site.

Wednesday Oct. 23

Aritonang says investigators have determined specifications of bombs but not how they were deployed, large bomb made of RDX with a ""derivative"" of Ammonium Nitrate (ANFO).

Friday Oct. 25

Aritonang says bomb was RDX and Ammonium Nitrate.

Saturday Oct. 26

Maj. Gen. Muhdi Purwopranjono (Kopassus) claims to have identified bombers.

Joint investigating team says it's still in dark.

Aritonang says bombings were carefully and professionally planned and executed.

Sunday Oct. 27

Pastika says bombs made by Indonesians who ""could not have done it without help from foreign bomb experts. We believe that the explosives were brought in from outside Bali"" and ""The technology using mobile phones as a remote control is new for Indonesia and something that requires guidance from foreign experts.""

Monday Oct. 28

Two Generals, one police, one army named as possible suspects in bombing and subsequently file suit against Washington Post for libel. They win their case.

Tuesday Oct. 29

Susilo Yudhoyono denies Army, Police Generals involved in bombing. He is correct.

Wednesday Oct. 30

Pastika says ""main player"" identified who is also bomb maker. He is incorrect.

Thursday Oct. 31

Police release three sketches of bomb suspects. Muchyar Yara says that the three were part of a list of 10 names submitted to police.

Friday Nov. 1

Da'I Bachtiar says they have identified East Javanese man but have not found him yet, along with driver of the van. Bachtiar says they used TNT, RDX, HDX and Ammonium Nitrate.

U.S. ambassador Ralph Boyce says media accusations of U.S. involvement in bombing ""inaccurate and unhelpful."" Boyce is later found to have been involved along with the CIA station Jakarta. He is principle in having Bali bombing Investigator Robert S. Finnegan fired and his journalist visa cancelled forcing his removal from Indonesia.

Defense Minister Matori Djalil links bombing to JI and al-Qaeda.

ASIO director Dennis Richardson does the same.

Saturday Nov. 2

International investigation team finishes forensics after less than three weeks on site, concluding that bomb was TNT, RDX and other ""materials"" including chloride. AFP forensic team member says ""we have all we need to nail these bad guys down,""

BIN says bombings involved ""skilled foreign experts."" They are correct.

Muchyar Yara says ""We are sure that foreign experts along with Indonesian experts or perpetrators were involved."" He is right.

National Police said bombs were constructed of TNT, RDX and HMX.

AFP officer Graham Ashton say that the degree of coordination and vehicle placement reflected a high degree of planning and expertise, although goes on to play a key role in the cover-up of the bombing and AFP involvement.

BIN issues a report saying bombs were made of Semtex.

Sunday Nov. 3

Police release on Nov. 2 man arrested in Ngada regency. Brig.Gen Aritonang says it's the wrong guy.

Police raid house on Java and find photo matching suspect in composite sketch release earlier in week.

120 Australian police and intelligence officers working in Bali in addition to international investigators.

Minister of Defense Matori Jalil accuses al-Qaeda of bombings.

Australia accuses JI of bombing.

Monday Nov. 4

International team says bombers are professionals.

Intelligence sources say foreign perpetrators would hide for 6 months before trying to get out of the country.

Thursday Nov. 07

Mitsubishi van owner arrested in East Java on Nov. 5.

Gen. Heru Susanto identifies owner of van as Amrozi, 30, arrested in Paciran village in Lamongan. Amrozi says he bought van from man identified as Her from Tuban.

Joint inquiry team issues statement that a white Mitsubishi L300 van loaded with explosives stopped minutes before the blast in front of Sari club in drop off area not normally used for parking.

Aritonang says police have not named any suspects in relation to the bombing. Are focusing investigation on ten persons.

Friday Nov. 8

Da'I Bachtiar says Amrozi admitted using van for bombing and renting motorcycles and other car for bombing. Admits Amrozi does not match sketches.

Panorama in Italy reports Italian national bar owner "Sartoni" in Bali arrested in connection with bombing.

Asian Wall Street Journal reports Hambali as planning bombing during meetings in south Thailand.

Saturday Nov. 9

Pastika says Amrozi admits to helping build main bomb, admits to being field coordinator for bombing.

Sunday Nov. 10

Police claim Amrozi bought sulfur, ammonium, fluorine and chlorate from Tidar Kimina chemical store in Surabaya.

Monday Nov. 11

Police claim to have produced an initial reconstruction of planning and execution of bombing, also that Amrozi purchased over one ton of chemicals to produce bombs from Silvester Tendean.

Former Bakin official AC Manullang expresses doubts about Amrozi's part in pro team responsible for bombing.

Aritonang says Amrozi prime suspect in bombing.

Tuesday Nov. 12

Pastika says 10 Indonesians suspected of bombing.

Amrozi states he wanted to kill Americans in bombing. Bachtiar says Amrozi held four meetings in Surakarta to plan bombings.

Anti-terrorism officer and chemical expert express doubt over police claims they have identified bombers.

Kopassus NCO says bombing would take a year of practice to execute.

Chemical expert rules out conventional explosives, say they are incapable of causing level of destruction at Kuta.

Wednesday Nov. 13

Amrozi says he did not assemble bomb. Pastika says bomb consisted of 100 kilos TNT, PETN detonator and RDX ""booster."

Thursday Nov. 14

Amrozi fingers Samudra as one of the masterminds of the bombing, says he drove van to Bali but denies assembling bomb.

Saturday Nov. 16

JL named as prime suspect in blast.

Monday Nov. 18

Joint investigation team identifies 6 more suspects: Patek, Samdura, Imron, Wayan, Dulmatin, Idris with Samdura, Dulmatin and Idris as bomb assemblers. Samdura leader of group, Idris second in command, Dulmatin as detonator with his cell phone, electronics expert.

Amrozi refuses to identify driver of van. It's because he can't.

Tuesday Nov. 19

Pastika says investigators have not yet focused on source of explosives, too early to move on that and only arrest of perpetrators would lead them to device.

Police say they found RDX and TNT trace at blast site. TNI denies ever storing RDX or C-4. PT Dahana confirms importing RDX for limited parties and military.

Wednesday Nov. 20

Da'I Bachtiar says there are other ""materials"" Amrozi did not procure in Surabaya and ""has no capacity to make bombs." He is correct.

AFP says they have not found RDX residue at site, only Chlorate and TNT.

Pastika will not confirm or deny foreign involvement.

Thursday Nov. 21

Hermawan Sulistyo says amount of explosives required do not match van story (HA HA! As if anyone will listen to a CIA bagman, Hermawan!).

Police confirm chemicals purchased by Amrozi were not main bomb materials.

Pastika says main bomb materials TNT and RDX.

Friday Nov. 22

Three ""mystery"" men appear in Amrozi interrogation transcript, Amrozi appears to be in dark about Sari and Paddy club bombings until he sees it on TV. With lots of coaching, he finally get's the story down pat.

Pastika claims he has not read interrogation report, now claims that only seven suspects have been identified.

Saturday Nov. 23

Bachtiar says that Amrozi himself provided the vehicle and materials for the bombs.

Sunday Nov. 24

Bachtiar says bombings carried out by three groups under leadership of Hambali.

Monday Nov. 25

Police claim that the device used at Paddy's was detonated 118 centimeters above the ground. 

Time Magazine claims Yemeni terrorist mastermind of Bali Bombing. 

Tuesday Nov. 26

Police detain ""accomplices"" in bombing.

Police reveal Samudra was in process of getting fake passport to travel to Malaysia.

Wednesday Nov. 27

Legal experts say Amrozi and Samudra confessions inadmissible under KUHP, but they were found guilty and shot anyways for good measure.

Thursday Nov. 28

Bali bombing victims call for death of perpetrators.

Friday Nov. 29

Aritonang says Samudra interrogation transcripts on Bali bombing not included in his case file because a lawyer did not accompany suspect.

Saturday Nov. 30

Police now say JI ""operating in Indonesia."

Samudra claims he masterminded Batam bombings.

Sunday Dec. 1

Lawyers for Samudra say he is not linked to Ba'asyir or Mukhlas.

Monday Dec. 2

"Political analyst" Hermawan Sulistyo hints that media reports, including those from Time, which relied on ""intelligence sources,"" may be false. Sulistyo is identified by Robert Finnegan, Bali bombing lead investigator as "CIA bagman."

Tuesday Dec. 3

Police release names of 163 Bali bombing victims.

Wednesday Dec. 4

Bali international investigating team ""not sure"" when investigation into the approximately 200 missing in the bombings will begin. Sure they don't. It's already over for them after destroying all the evidence.

Thursday Dec. 5

Police say they have captured alleged JI operations chief Mukhlas.

Bomb blasts rock McDonald's and car dealership in Sulawesi, killing three.

Monday Dec. 9

Pastika says at least ""90 percent"" of the Bali bombing plot had been uncovered.

Tuesday Dec. 10

Pastika says dossiers on Bali bombing suspects had to be "perfect," but has yet to assign responsibility for the three blasts to suspects or determine explosives used.

Sulawesi Police Chief Gen. Firman Gani says they have linked Sulawesi bombers with Bali bombings.

Wednesday Dec. 11

Samudra lawyer expresses doubt on client's ability to assemble explosives, alleges that Samudra and other suspects had been manipulated by a ""third party"" to discredit Islam in Indonesia, suggests two devices were used in bombings: one conventional and one ""high tech device of great power"". Lawyer also says eyewitness saw something fall from sky before explosion.

Thursday Dec. 12

Joint investigative team says Makassar, Bali bombings closely linked.

Friday Dec. 13

Aritonang says he has strong case in Bali bombings. Says he does not have specialized knowledge to discuss explosives used in detail.

Saturday Dec. 14

Samudra denies knowing Mukhlas, Gufron, denies receiving funds from them. Says he wanted to kill Israeli spies, Americans. Says he did not assemble bombs or know where they were assembled.

Bachtiar questions whether Amrozi and Samudra acted alone in all bombings.

Former Indonesian President Abduurman Wahid (Gus Dur) says on Australian TV news "Amrozi....didn't know about the larger bomb." 



Robert S. Finnegan was the Senior Investigative Editor and lead investigator for The Jakarta Post on the Bali bombings of 2002.  He is now retired and lives with his spouse, photographer Imas Kurniawati-Finnegan in Jakarta and may be reached at rsfinnegan@gmail.com.


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