Bali bombing shows U.S. alone not being targeted by terrorists

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

With the death of about 200 people in a bombing on the Indonesia resort island of Bali, the war on terrorism enters a new phase. As thinking analysts have said ever since Sept. 11, 2001, the war clearly isn't between al-Qaida and the United States; undeniably, now, it's between al-Qaida and the entire civilized world.

The attack was on an ethnically diverse group of people, mostly Australians and Europeans, on a small island with a reputation for tranquility. As The New York Times said, it "seemed intended to undercut feelings of safety. ..."

For quite some time, the United States has gotten only lukewarm support from some of its nominal allies. Germany, for example, has been reluctant to share infor- mation about terrorists who might face the death penalty if convicted. That presumably was intended as a statement of principle, to highlight the German government's opposition to capital punishment. Now that the Germans see everyone is vulnerable to al-Qaida attacks, even those whose governments aren't particularly active in the war on terrorism, maybe they will change their position.

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Islamic population, has been in turmoil for years as the result of economic problems, the fall of President Suharto and the loss of East Timor.

It isn't altogether surprising, under those conditions, that al-Qaida would have chosen there for its next major offensive against innocent civilian lives -- particularly since Bali is predominantly Hindu instead of Muslim.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri needs to begin a crackdown immediately, as do all governments across the globe. The Bali attack is -- or at least should be viewed as -- the world's equivalent of Sept. 11, 2001. If other nations fail to strike back, it will be viewed as a sign of weakness.

-- Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville

Oct. 15

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