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How Al Qaeda lit the Bali fuse: Part three

A bomber tries to realize his vision of a global Muslim uprising

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Imam Samudra may well be the most hate-filled and defiant of the men on trial for last year's terror attack in Bali.

On June 2, as he entered court to face charges that he was the field commander for the bombing that claimed 202 lives at two nightclubs, Mr. Samudra pumped his fist into the air and exhorted his lawyers to join him in chanting "God is great."

He has told journalists he was gladdened by the deaths, informed interrogators that God will reward the attackers, and described a decade of plotting that led to the most devastating terrorist act since September 11.

He has also confessed without remorse to participating in six fatal bombings.

Samudra is a "true believer" - a member of that tiny minority in any society who thinks all means are justified in pursuit of a utopian vision. In his case, Samudra believes there is a conspiracy against Muslims led by the US and its allies.

His dream is to spark a global Muslim uprising through isolated acts of terror - a hope shared by Osama bin Laden.

In normal times, men like Mr. Bin Laden or Samudra are frustrated in their quest to win more operatives to their cause. To almost everyone, their extreme views are too difficult to swallow.

They make their greatest inroads when passions are inflamed by war and injustice.

For most of the 1990s, Samudra's ambitions were frustrated by a dearth of like-minded comrades. But that changed with religious war in the Maluku provinces in 1999. A number of well-publicized massacres by Christians in the provinces sparked a wave of sympathy among millions of Muslims in Indonesia and in neighboring countries such as Malaysia.

It was an opportunity that Samudra's Al Qaeda-linked terror group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), was quick to capitalize on. Fresh recruits began to trickle in to Maluku to join in the fighting along with Indonesian and Malaysian veterans of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union's occupation during the 1980s.


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