Patek wanted to kill US troops in PH: FBI
JAKARTA - An FBI agent testifying in the trial of the suspected Bali bomb-maker said Thursday the accused planned to kill US troops and intelligence suggested he went to Pakistan to meet Osama bin Laden.
Indonesian prosecutors accuse Umar Patek, who was arrested last year in the same Pakistani town where US commandos later killed the Al-Qaeda chief, of constructing the bombs that killed 202 people, mostly Westerners.
"He continued being a terrorist, he continued making bombs and was planning to attack US troops in the Philippines," Frank Pellegrino testified, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Pellegrino interrogated Islamic militants after 9/11 in the US and said he had discussions with Indonesian police following the Bali attacks about Patek's activities in Afghanistan, where the suspected bomb-maker had trained.
In the Philippines, Patek spoke to many people "about his desire... to kill Americans in the southern Philippines, and they would be American troops assisting Filipino troops," Pellegrino told the West Jakarta District Court.
Pellegrino arrived in Bali shortly after the October 2002 nightclub bombings and was one of the FBI agents responsible for tracking self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, caught by Pakistani authorities in 2003.
Defense lawyers have said Patek was not in Pakistan to meet bin Laden.
Pellegrino however said a witness in the Philippines had told the FBI the accused had gone there to re-establish the link between his Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al-Qaeda.
The witness "indicated that Patek told him that he was interested in going back to Pakistan and Afghanistan and working with Osama bin Laden," Pellegrino said.
"He said he wanted to reconnect with Al-Qaeda and JI connection, made so strong by Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and Hambali," an Indonesian terror suspect who is in US custody at Guantanamo Bay.
"This is what one witness told us," Pellegrino added.
Ali Imron, 42, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the Bali bombings, testified in Patek's trial last month that his own brother, Mukhlas, had received $30,000 from bin Laden for jihad activities in Southeast Asia.
Pellegrino said he had interrogated around 20 Islamic militants, most from the Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network JI, of which Patek is believed to be a key member and which was behind the Bali attacks.
"Many did know Mr Patek and all described him -- especially after the time of Bali bombings -- as a leader... a well-known bomb-maker who knew how to mix chemicals and knew how to teach people how to mix chemicals," Pellegrino said. The FBI had already been looking into JI because of threats of an attack on the US embassy in Singapore in 2001 and Patek's name was quickly known by the FBI after the Bali attacks, he said.
Patek, 45, went on trial in February, charged with murder, bomb-making and illegal firearms possession. Prosecutors say they will push for the death penalty.
Three JI members -- ringleader Imam Samudra and the brothers Mukhlas and Amrozi -- were executed by firing squad in November 2008 for their roles in the Bali bombings.
According to the indictment, Patek was involved in assembling the bombs for the attacks and also strikes on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve 2000.
Two bombs erupted in Bali's Kuta tourist strip on October 12, 2002, one at Paddy's bar and the second shortly after in a van outside the nearby Sari club.