The alleged Bali bomber, Umar Patek, has already yielded vital information about activities since his capture in Pakistan earlier this year, a senior Indonesian official says.
Patek, who is believed to have built the bombs for the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, was captured on January 25 in the same Pakistani city where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in May.
He is now set to be returned to Indonesia to face trial after Pakistani officials last month gave the green light for his deportation.
But Indonesia’s counter-terrorism chief Ansyaad Mbai says a team sent to Pakistan two months ago had already obtained vital information about his involvement in a number of attacks.
“A team was sent to interrogate Umar Patek in Pakistan,” Mr Ansyaad said.
“We had access to Umar Patek, and we have got some information about his involvement in terrorist cases in Indonesia.”
It’s believed Patek, who before his capture after almost a decade on the run was one of South-East Asia’s most wanted criminals, can provide a treasure of information about a range of activities and networks in the region.
While he is alleged to be the field commander for 2002 Bali bombings, he has also been linked to other attacks in Indonesia dating back to 1999.
“Prior to the first Bali bombing, he was involved in the case of what we call Christmas bomb,” Mr Ansyaad said, referring to attacks against churches in Jakarta on Christmas Day 2000.
Patek was also wanted in the Philippines, where he allegedly plotted deadly attacks with local militants after fleeing Indonesia following the 2002 bombings in Bali.
Officials in the Manila confirmed last month that Pakistan had also offered to deport Patek to the Philippines.
The possibility of Patek facing trial in Australia had also been considered, Australia’s counter-terrorism ambassador Bill Paterson said in May during a visit to Jakarta.
Mr Ansyaad said Indonesia would take its time with Patek’s deportation so as not to jeopardise their case against him.
“The government of Indonesia is in the process of transferring Umar Patek from Pakistan,” he said.
“But there is no time-frame. We have to make sure of the detail.
If we fail to comply with the procedure, then we will fail at the court.”
The comments come despite Indonesian officials having previously indicated that their chances of pursuing a case against Patek were limited because 2003 counter-terrorism laws could not be applied retrospectively.
It’s understood authorities will instead seek to prosecute him for murder and possession of explosives.