REBECCA HENSCHKE, REPORTER: A Balinese funeral is a colourful ritual, intended to liberate the soul into the next life. After the Bali bombings there would have been 38 local funerals. Mostly Hindu, like this one, but also Muslim and Christian, and there is a heartbreaking story behind each one.
NYOMAN RENCINI (Translation): Sometimes I was happy and laughed, but now that almost never happens – I can’t. My laughter is not real, it is not pure – it is just a show I put on for people. I was so dependent on my husband - that is the truth. I’ll wash, you do the ironing…
Like many of the loved ones left behind, Nyoman Rencini had to raise her kids alone, after her husband was killed in the Bali bombs.
DAUGHTER (Translation): Sometimes I think when I see my friends “Their family is complete, I want to be like that.” But then I see mum who is both dad and mum to me.. Then I think “This is enough.”
NYOMAN RENCINI (Translation): When he was alive, I didn’t have to think too hard, I never lay awake until after 2am. Since he died, I have so many thoughts in my head that I find it hard to sleep.
Her husband was a taxi driver in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was 11pm and he was waiting along Legian Street when a van approached. That van was driven by a man whose name would become notorious - Ali Imron. The van stopped 100 metres short of the Sari Club. Imron then sent the bombers alone to their targets - The Sari Club and Paddy's Pub.
NYOMAN RENCINI (Translation): All I felt at the time was sadness. I felt... I had no hope for the future. I didn’t think I’d be able to care for my children. That’s all I felt.
RISTI LACZYNSKI: Throw to mama?
JAN LACZYNSKI: Throw to me?
RISTI LACZYNSKI: Always daddy. Always daddy!
JAN LACZYNSKI: I love Bali. Australians love Bali. I have literally been here a hundred times now myself.
For Australian Jan Laczynski, Bali has been his second home.
RISTI LACZYNSKI: Wow! You are heavy!
He met his Indonesian wife Risti on Legian Street and these days they spend much of the year travelling between Australia and Bali. But in the years before they met, the place Jan loved most was the Sari Club.
JAN LACZYNSKI: When I worked at Qantas a great benefit was you virtually got super cheap airfares. So on a Thursday night, I would leave Melbourne straight away, arrive like at midnight to Bali and go straight to the Sari Club and party and drink.
Five of his mates worked as security guards at the club. Over a period of five years they became good friends. On the night of the bombings, Jan flew home to Australia. Outside the Sari Club his mates were trying to move the van that was blocking the street.
JAN LACZYNSKI: When the bomb vehicle parked right in front of the Sari Club, they were trying to do the right thing saying, "What's wrong? Why is it blocking the entrance?" because it was creating a traffic jam. They were trying to help push the van just before it exploded.
REPORTER: It is huge, it is scary. People dead. Ground zero.
202 people were killed in the blasts.
JAN LACZYNSKI: Everyone that was in front or inside or the middle of the club, they are all gone and I was sending text messages, "Are you OK?" No answer. You are hoping - hoping maybe that they are OK, maybe they are in a hospital, maybe - you know. But I knew they were gone. I knew they were gone. They had no chance.
Every year on October 12 Jan makes a pilgrimage to the Sari Club site.
JAN LACZYNSKI: Every year I come back. Light candles, sorry, say your prayers. There would be that anger - why did that do this? I would be angry. There were a lot of people going through pain. Ah.
His anger at times has been all-consuming. He sat through the trials and watched each of the bombers take the stand, Imam Samudra and brothers Mukhlas, Amrozi and Ali Imron. He listened to every testimony and at the end of it all he still had questions he wanted answered. Now, Jan is heading back to Bali, along with widow Nyoman Rencini, he's agreed to meet the man who trained the Bali bombers.
JAN LACZYNSKI: Meeting a terrorist is the hardest thing you will ever do. You don't want to do it. But at the same time you want to know why, why, you know, why? What's prompted you to become a
Almost everyone in this room lost a loved one in the Bali bombings.
MAN (Translation): Trauma is difficult, you can’t forget it…
It is a support group and they all have a remarkable story to share.
MAN (Translation): But you can accept it as part of your life.
Including group leader Ni Luh Erniati.
NI LUH ERNIATI (Translation): My husband worked at the Sari Club, it was his first job and also his last. I said “Sir, I’m looking for my husband, he is in there.” When I saw what was there, the Sari Club had gone. All that was left was rubble and the remains of the fire. That is when I … I began to feel that he was dead, that he could not have survived.
The older child understood, it was harder for the younger one. He was only 18 months old, he didn’t understand. He was just able to say “Dad”. In Grade 4 he began to understand. "mum, I want my dad to come home.'' He looked at his dad’s photo every night, I thought ‘What am I going to do’
YULIA (Translation): What should I do? I am still afraid to go anywhere.
At the support group meeting one man pays careful attention to each speaker.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): Yulia, you’re suffering from what is known as a panic disorder.
He too has a remarkable story - Nasir is a former terrorist.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): When they went to school, kids said “I saw your dad on TV last night, is he a terrorist?’ If they ask “Is your dad a terrorist?” say “Yes, he used to be but he is not anymore.”
Malaysian national Nasir Abbas was a senior leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, the group that carried out the attacks on Bali. At a military camp in Afghanistan he trained all of the Bali bombers in weaponry and warfare.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): Weapons are one of humanity’s proudest achievements.
Nasir now plays a very different role, guiding extremists away from terrorism. As part of Indonesia's deradicalisation program he regularly meets with both radicals and victims of terrorism. He's met several times with Ni Luh Erniati, the leader of the victim support group.
REBECCA HENSCHKE (Translation): If there was an opportunity, would you recommend that members of your group meet Nasir?
NI LUH ERNIATI (Translation): I don’t think I’d dare to recommend it, I’m afraid that many of them are still traumatised.
After months of careful consideration, Bali widow Nyoman Rencini wants to meet Nasir.
NI LUH ERNIATI (Translation): Now Rencini says that she has faced up to the facts – it’s over and done with, she is stronger now.
Ni Luh agrees to go with her and before facing him they say a prayer at the Bali bombing memorial. At a Kuta hotel I arrive with Nasir and amongst the nervous smiles, I make the difficult introduction.
REBECCA HENSCHKE (Translation): He used to be one of the leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah and that was the group that carried out the bali bombing that caused your husbands’ deaths.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): Yes, what Rebecca said is true, I used to be involved in that group.
NYOMAN RENCINI (Translation): You must have known those people and their characters.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): Yes. I knew them, Mukhlas was my brother-in-law. My little sister married Mukhlas. That’s how it was, he didn’t used to think like that but then, after 1999, he agreed with the appeals made by Osama bin Laden, which is why he led the people who carried out the Bali bombing, in the effect to establish an Islamic State. Their sins weigh heavily on me, I have to set them on the right path. I have to persuade others not to do this again. Why? Because I bear this burden and I feel as though I have sinned too. They used at least some of the knowledge I gave them.
NYOMAN RENCINI (Translation): People have to be smart to do such things, so why did the teacher give them this knowledge to destroy things? He taught his students those things, it’s his fault his students are like that.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): It is not easy to be threatened, I have been threatened, accused, slandered, scorned… all that.
They talk for over an hour and the women are left with mixed feelings.
NI LUH ERNIATI (Translation): As for me, I’d met Nasir before, I already knew some of his story, he doesn’t want any more bombings in Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia. I really hope that, one day what he is working on will become a reality.
But Nyoman finds it difficult to forgive him.
NYOMAN RENCINI (Translation): It’s as if meeting him has brought up all my sadness. No matter how well he explained it, I couldn’t accept it.
Nasir is prepared to face many more victims, like Nyoman and Ni Luh. He says he is on a mission to explain his own disengagement from terrorism. Nasir was once one of South-East Asia's most wanted Jihadis. In 2003 the police came for him and he was ready to die.
NASIR ABBAS: I tried to grab the pistol, the policeman's pistol, and I say to myself, "Why God not let me die?"
After his arrest, he spent nine months in jail.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): God is also witness to what is happening here.
CROWD (Translation): God is great…
But then dramatically changed sides, he turned into a police informer, and gave damning evidence against his friends and fellow extremists.
NASIR ABBAS (Translation): Hambali told me that Abdullah Sungkar had been replaced by Abu as the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah.
Jemaah Islamiyah believed the Bali bombs would bring about a religious revolution in Indonesia. But instead it led to a crackdown on extremists, the creation of a national anti-terrorism force, and a special police unit Detachment 88. Nasir Abbas has spoken to 300 people arrested on terrorism charges. He says it is about shifting their view of Jihad to one of nonviolence. Today Nasir is checking in with one of his deradicalisation subjects, a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, who helped source chemicals for the Bali bombs. Extremism still maintains its grip on him.
MUHAZIR ROHMAT (Translation): When the bombing happened it was on the TV, “We’re great!” That is what I thought. “God willing!” It was so big. If the 200-plus casualties had been American soldiers, we would have no regrets.
Like many of those with radical views, Muhazir grew up in a family of extremists and after the attacks he helped bomber Ali Imron hide.
MUHAZIR ROHMAT (Translation): Ali Imron and I went back and forth between Lamongan and Surabaya. I thought… “I can’t keep running, it will never end.” Most of my like-minded friends were in jail, so I went to the police in Jakarta.
He handed himself in and was later cleared of his terrorism charges. His views show that Nasir' deradicalisation work is not easy.
MUHAZIR ROHMAT (Translation): Only after you’ve been arrested or shot will you wake up to yourself? Until you’ve been arrested, no way. You won’t listen to advice from anyone. Why is that?
The spirit has been instilled in you. “I have to die as a martyr.” If you gave me the money to go to Syria now, I’d go, but I’d have to become part of... Jemaah Islamiyah, not ISIS. My enthusiasm for jihad... my desire to live a good life or die a martyr will be there until I draw my final breath. I hope I’m still alive and...Indonesia becomes an Islamic state, whether it’s my children or grandchildren who fight for it.
Jan Laczynski lost five mates in the Bali bombings and has never met with a terrorist before. It is his chance to ask the questions that have been on his mind for 12 years.
JAN LACZYNSKI: Do I really want to meet this guy? You know, you feel - do I want to do back through the emotions again? It could be so easy for me just to walk away - walk away and forget about it. But - ah, for the people that don't have the courage to ask the questions - I'm happy to do it.
They head to a quiet place to talk. Jan's determined to find out more about Nasir's past.
NASIR ABBAS: I am still young, around 18 years old and when someone offering me to go to Afghanistan, free, and I say why not? It is a new experience for me and I want to be part of adventure. And then they choose me to be one of the instructors and some of the Indonesians be my student, for example like Ali Imron. I tell them… the knowledge just only use, the military knowledge, in the battlefield where you fight in the conflict area, against the armed force. But here in Bali… where is your enemy? Here nobody carry arms against you.
JAN LACZYNSKI: My wife is Muslim. We met here on the fifth anniversary. We love each other. When we talk about terrorism now, she is so angry.
NASIR ABBAS: Yeah.
JAN LACZYNSKI: She says, "I am Muslim, it’s peace, it’s culture, it is praying." Every night she prays.
NASIR ABBAS: That is why I disagree. After I get - I have a chat with Ali Imron in the jail, and I ask him why they choose Bali. They said the point is how to kill the civilians, to kill the American and her allies’ civilians, that is their point, as much as possible.
JAN LACZYNSKI: But there was so many Indonesians.
NASIR ABBAS: Also so many but they don’t care, they don’t care. They don't care!
JAN LACZYNSKI: But my friends were there, Indonesians themselves. I remember asking Ali Imron in the courtroom - asked him a question. Maybe he didn’t understand it, I asked him and said, "Was he really sorry." He never answered a question to me. But - are you really, really sorry? Hand on heart that if you had the chance to do this all over again, that you wouldn't have trained anyone, you wouldn't have done this?
NASIR ABBAS: This is my struggle now. This is my struggle. OK. I tell to God that now today my jihad is…my jihad is against the terrorism action.
Both men continue to talk openly, well into the afternoon.
JAN LACZYNSKI: He said if he knew what he was teaching was going to result in having suicide bombers blowing up nightclubs he would never have done this. You wonder. Is that really true? Is that really true?
NASIR ABBAS: Please tell to others, in Australians, that I feel sorry. .
JAN LACZYNSKI: It is going to be very hard.
NASIR ABBAS: It is very hard, yeah. Of course they will never forget...
JAN LACZYNSKI: Mmm.
NASIR ABBAS: I mean the disaster.
JAN LACZYNSKI: I will never forget.
NASIR ABBAS: I am not asking for them to forgive me. Yeah. But let them know that what I'm doing now is against the terrorism. Yeah.
JAN LACZYNSKI: God, I hope he is telling the truth. The scary thing is what if he is not telling the truth? Is he part of the network? In your mine all this stuff, whether you - he is generally part of the solution or is he still part of the problem? Look, meeting Nasir gave me some of the answers that I was looking for. But, I guess, it's not giving me the complete picture of what's happened. I think the only people that can still give us a complete picture are those that were directly involved with the Bali bombings themselves. Well, the only person that's left is Ali Imron.