BALI, Indonesia – An Islamic militant on trial for the 2005 Bali bombings on Tuesday admitting to meeting the alleged mastermind of the attacks and withholding information from police — but said he did so only after being brainwashed.
Abdul Azis, 30, told the Denpasar District Court he met Malaysian terror fugitive Noordin Top 10 times in the months leading to the Oct. 1, 2005 suicide bombings that killed 20 people.
He said he did not know the strikes were being planned but suspected the man he met was Noordin — one of Southeast Asia's most wanted militants. Azis also admitted helping design a Web site promoting holy war.
"I do not agree with suicide bombing or fighting against other religions," he told the court, adding that he did not go to police because Noordin's persuasive powers were too great to resist.
"Maybe he was using black magic," said Azis, one of four defendants standing trial in the attacks. They face a maximum penalty of death if convicted. "He has an extraordinary charisma ... more than my father."
Noordin is an alleged leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for a string of terror attacks across Indonesia that have left at least 260 people dead in recent years — the most devastating the 2002 nightclub bombings also on Bali.
Three Islamic militants on death row for those attacks, which killed 202 mostly foreign tourists, will file a final appeal against their convictions later this month, Wirawan Adnan, their lawyer, said Tuesday.
That could stand in the way of the Attorney General's efforts to speed up their executions.
"The prosecutors can execute them whenever they want, but it will be against the law since the three still have the right to appeal," he told The Associated Press.