JAKARTA - Umar Patek went to Pakistan with the intention of reestablishing links with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, an FBI agent has told the alleged Bali bomber’s terror trial. Patek, who could face a firing squad if convicted of mass premeditated murder over the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, has previously denied that he went to Pakistan to meet bin Laden, according to AAP.
But FBI agent Frank Pellegrino, who was involved in the investigation into the attacks in Bali, on Thursday revealed that another terrorism suspect known to Patek had confirmed the 45-year-old was in Abbottabad to meet with the slain al Qaeda leader. Patek was captured in January last year in Abbottabad, where US forces killed bin Laden less than four months later. “One person we interviewed in the Philippines who was known to Patek... indicated that Patek told him he was interested in going back to Pakistan and Afghanistan and working with bin Laden,” Pellegrino told the West Jakarta District Court.
“He wanted to reconnect the al Qaeda-JI (Jemaah Islamiah) connection made so strong by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Hambali.” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the former head of al Qaeda’s propaganda operations, while the former JI leader Hambali was the main link between the two terrorist networks. Both men remain in US custody. Patek did not deny the claim but told the court on Thursday he was not a member of JI, and repeated a denial that he was an explosives expert.
However, Pellegrino said there was clear evidence that Patek played a key role in constructing the explosive devices used in the bombing of two nightclubs in Kuta.
The Sari Club was bustling with locals and tourists when a massive bomb loaded into a van parked outside was detonated just after 11pm on October 12 a decade ago this year. About 20 seconds earlier, a suicide bomber had detonated a backpack loaded with explosives inside Paddy’s Bar. “Umar Patek’s name came up shortly after the bombing,” Pellegrino said, adding that Patek’s fingerprints had been lifted from the house in Denpasar where the explosive devices were constructed. Pellegrino said based on investigations by US authorities into the activities of Hambali, dating back to the mid-1990s, and his own conversations with numerous JI operatives, it was clear that Patek was well schooled in bomb-making.