Execution is Imminent for Bali Nightclub Bombers

The three men have refused to seek clemency saying they want to die as martyrs.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA Aug. 27, 2008— -- The execution of the three men convicted for bombing a nightclub in Bali in 2002 is imminent. Amrozi Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron have been held responsible for the deaths of 202 people, mostly Australians and Indonesians, who were killed at or near a disco in the popular tourist destination of Kuta in Bali.

The three men have been on death row for five years and have refused to seek presidential clemency, wishing to die as martyrs, and believing that their fate lies in God's hands.

"To die a martyr's death is my wish and dream," Samudra and Ghufron wrote in a letter provided by their legal defense team, according to The Jakarta Post. "If God has predestined me to be killed by infidels, as well as hypocrites by way of execution, it means God has fulfilled my wishes... Praise be to God."

Letters have been sent to their families in preparation.

With four days remaining before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the expected deadline to carry out the executions by firing squad, the final confirmation by the Supreme Court is not yet complete.

Nasir Abas, the brother-in-law of Ali Ghufron, is a former top commander of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), one of the largest terrorist groups in South East Asia. In 2003 Abas defected after being arrested and is now working with police to rehabilitate and reeducate Islamic extremists about the true meaning of Islam.

"My mission now is I want to bring them back to the right part, to the right understanding of what is Islam's struggle," Abas tells ABC News.

"Islam is peace, religious. Islam is the defend for their rights. Not to kill innocent people. Because the innocent is also God's creation. We are all God's creation. We need to respect to the others," he says.

Abas says he has tried talking to his brother-in-law and that Ghufron wrote him letters that he has not yet replied to.

"He said that I'm not a Muslim anymore. I'm infidel. He will never accept me as a Muslim," says Abas who is Malaysian and was born in Singapore.

Having trained in Afghanistan, specialized in weaponry, and set up training camps in the Philippines, today Abas dedicates his time to aiding police in Indonesia as part of a deradicalization program. He aims to morally rehabilitate his Muslim brothers and JI members in prison – and if successful, to eventually reintegrate them back into society.

"It's necessary to transform people not just with an intellectual understanding but with the spiritual realization that comes from the heart," says C. Holland Taylor, an expert on Islam and Chairman and CEO of LibForAll Foundation.

"You get people who have a very superficial understanding of Islam – supremacist, intolerant, violent ideology based on hatred and lacking the true understanding of the spiritual depths of Islam," says Taylor.

"People's minds are easily filled with hatred and provoked into acts of violence," he says.

While opening minds is at the core of the police program, opening wallets also plays a key role.

According to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) that specializes in conflict prevention and resolution worldwide, "Some (prisoners) have then accepted that attacks on civilians, such as the first and second Bali bombings and the Australian embassy bombing, were wrong. The economic aid, however, is ultimately more important than religious arguments in changing prisoner attitudes."

Abas remains on the United Nations Security Council Consolidated List maintained by the 1267 Committee that implements freezing assets, travel bans and arms embargos on individuals and entities linked to terrorist groups.

The Committee is aware of Abas' current activities aiding police in Indonesia and supports any activities likely to reduce threats posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and their associates.

Abas is also on the foreign assets control list maintained by the US Department of the Treasury.

While deradicalization efforts continue within prison walls, corruption and activity to strengthen terrorist networks also exists. Prisoners with time on their hands help recruit and translate JI websites and publications for local distribution.

Measuring the success of deradicalization programs is difficult. Abas will not talk about how many people he has converted or speaks with regularly.

"One of the key problems is how do you define working? When do you know that a person has been deradicalized? Is it when they accept funds from their former enemy ie the police?" asks American Sidney Jones, senior advisor for ICG. "Is it when they are willing to say yes, yes to Nasir while they are still in prison? Is it after they are released from prison and are invited to join an operation and refuse?"

In Abas' case, the once instructor of operating small arms, rifles, rocket launchers and artillery guns, recalls when the tables turned, and it was not on his own terms.

In 2003 he was arrested. "They (police) are pointing guns against me but I don't run away. I rush them. I run towards them, hoping they would shoot at me," says Abas, who had trained his men that it is better to die than to be arrested.

But not one bullet was fired and after what Abas describes as "kung-fu fighting", police had broken limbs and Abas ended up wearing three pairs of handcuffs and his legs were tied.

"I'm thinking, why god not let me die? I tried. I tried," says the former commander who was stunned that he was arrested. He thought he would have died first and to do so by his own hand, he considers sinful.

That night in jail and until the first call to prayer at dawn, the only words Abas spoke were "God forgive me" in Arabic. After many prayers and self exploration, Abas came to terms with his own beliefs and his past.

Though Abas did serve time in prison, he is now a free man.

Having watched Abas over the last 3-4 years, Jones is convinced he has changed. "I don't think there's any going back now," she says, "And yet I'm also convinced that if there was an attack on Muslims in the region in a major way by a western power or by a non-Muslim power, he would be the first to volunteer."

"I believe that I am doing good deeds so god will protect me," Abas tells ABC News.

Terrorist networks in the region may appear to have quieted, however their networks are actually quite strong, and there are areas experts don't know enough about – training camps in and movement to the Philippines, how and if prisons are monitored, the impact of international developments, and what the future holds for younger generations of JI members.

"Extremist Islamist ideology represents an existential threat to the global economy and modern civilization - and to people throughout the world," says Taylor. "This ideology serves as a means to expand political, economic and military power, to harvest that power in the cause not of religion but of those who are using religion to expand their own power here on earth. It's extremely dangerous."

"It is true that Nasir has done an extraordinary job going around to these prisons, but there are a lot of people that don't want to see him, don't want to talk to him, and don't want to accept any aid from the police," says Jones, "and those are the people to worry about."

Abas plans to visit his unrepentant brother-in-law before his execution, the date of which will not be published until afterwards. "I have many things to tell him," Abas tells ABC News.

"My personal feeling, I feel sad because when he is being executed – my sister will be a widow, my nephew also will lose their father," he says, "I feel sad also because God did not open up his mind."

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