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Two Close Friends

Ghoni and Syawad are the latest suspected members of the Bali bombing network. Both are on the wanted list.

WHEN she heard the name Abdul Ghoni mentioned by the police, 73-year-old Ibu Pawiro Sukarto was stunned. And she has been depressed ever since. The mother felt that her son is facing difficulties. Ghoni--together with Syawad and Umar, alias Patek--is wanted by the police as he is suspected to be the person who assembled the bomb that destroyed the Legian tourist spot in Kuta, Bali on October 12 last year.

Ghoni and Syawad, alias Sudjio bin Siswomulyono, were both implicated by Ali Imron who is now being detained at the Bali Police Headquarters last Thursday. The two friends, according to Imron, had played important roles--as the first technicians to assemble the bomb--from September 25 to October 2. The pair worked on the explosive materials provided by Amrozi.

Previously, Ghoni was already wanted by the police, but he was only suspected of providing logistical support to Abdul Aziz, alias Imam Samudra. He allegedly provided a rented house for Samudra at Dukuh Sanggrahan in the Grogol Regency in Sukoharjo, Central Java. "The main player" in the Bali bombing who is still being sought is Umar, alias Patek--who has been on the police most wanted list since the very beginning. Ali Imron, however, has since upgraded the "status" of the duo to that of "key players".

Syawad is indeed a familiar name to Ali Imron. The two met in Thurkom, a district bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a camp that was run by a commander of the Ijtihad Islamiyah Afghanistan, the pair was given physical training; taught religious knowledge, especially the Holy War, or jihad, struggles and trained in ways to assemble a bomb. Since then, Syawad has disappeared.

That was until Ali Imron was arrested on Berukang Island in East Kalimantan on January 13. However, Syawad--who reportedly is now in Indonesia--is still nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Ghoni, who was born in Karanganyar on August 12, had his rented house in Dukuh Mantung, Sanggrahan Village, in Sukoharjo, raided by the police on November 24 last year. The police who also raided the rented dwellings of Imam Samudra, Nova Ariyanto and Herniyanto--was also situated in Sanggrahan, about 3 kilometers southwest of Solo--failed to find those who resided in the house.

From what was told by other residents of the village, the occupants of the house had left 14 days earlier. The police, however, found 12 empty cartridges--eight used by M-16 rifles and four that were fired from AK-47 assault weapons--from the ceiling of the house rented by Ghoni. The police also discovered traces of explosives residue from one of the rooms. Ghoni's wife Sri Wahyuningsih and their four children were later discovered several days later taking refuge in the Tulung district in Klaten. Sri was eventually interrogated by the police who wanted to know about her husband's disappearance.

Ghoni is indeed considered a mysterious person. Also known as Suranto, he once disappeared for about five years from his family's home in Dukuh Karangrejo in Karanganyar, Central Java. Interestingly, at that time--in 1989--he was supposed to attend lectures for his mechanical engineering degree course at the Muhammadiyah University in Solo. At the start of Semester III, he decided to leave. His excuse was that he felt sorry for his parents who were paying a huge amount of money to support his studies. He then left for Jakarta and promptly disappeared.

He only reappeared in his village early one morning in April 1994. "The whole family cried. When we met, he immediately embraced and kissed me," said Muryati, one of his elder sisters.

Things changed after that teary meeting, though. The 33-year-old became fanatical about his religion. He grew his beard long, wore trousers that were above the heels and was always in traditional Muslim garb. He also requested that his elder sisters put on the jilbab, the traditional Islamic headgear. Interestingly, the former student of Madrasah Aliyah Negeri Karanganyar, an Islamic school, would, in the past, "only like to visit the mosque," said Jono, a neighbor.

It was also during the "reappearance" in 1994 that Ghoni tied the knot with Wahyuningsih. They then stayed with Ghoni's parents since he was unemployed. And after the birth of their first child, he started a business producing carbonated beverages. In November 1997, the family moved to Dukuh Mantung in Solo. In his new house, Ghoni opened a stall selling kelontong, or rice cakes. To the residents of his neighborhood, the father of four claimed to be a broker dealing in motorcycles and cars. Besides that, the residents didn't know much about him--till his house was rummaged through by the police and his name included among those suspected of having a role in the Bali bombing. "Besides refusing to socialize with other residents, the occupants of this house did not create any problems with other residents," said Sutrisno, the owner of Ghoni's rented house.

Ghoni's mother has also been surprised. "He seldom returned home, and suddenly this happened," said Ibu Pawiro weakly. Having a son accused of being a terrorist has quite understandably depressed her.

Abdul Manan, Imron Rosyid (Solo), Sohirin (Semarang)

TEMPO, FEBRUARY 24, 2003-024/P. 20 Heading Cover Story


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