All Westerners targets of al-Qaida terrorists

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2002

Because the terror attacks of 9/11 occurred on U.S. soil, Americans could be forgiven for thinking that international terrorism is mostly a battle between the United States and the shadow figures of al-Qaida -- and it is only the world stage that provides the international dimension. The bombing ... of a nightclub in Bali shows that terrorists are not so discriminating; any Westerners can find themselves targets.

More than 180 people died in the attack, which the Indonesian government now says is likely to be the work of al-Qaida. But although an American consulate was bombed at the same time, Americans do not seem to have been the main target (two Americans were killed and four wounded). Australians and Britons are heavily represented among the dead and injured, although the victims seem to include some 20 nationalities.

For Australia, this is Sept. 11 brought very close to home. As the terrorists would well know, Kuta Beach, where the bomb went off, is hugely popular with young Australians (many members of rugby and Australian Rules football teams were there celebrating the end of their seasons). Bali represents something else that Islamic fanatics hate -- a hedonistic playground for people from Western cultures.

Along with Britain, Australia has been a firm ally of the United States in the war against terror, sending a commando force to fight in Afghanistan. Moreover, Australians made a specially ripe target for Indonesian-based terrorists, because Australia led the U.N. military force that secured East Timor's independence.

Already some in Australia are questioning whether support for the United States in the campaign against terror is worth it, but the anger also might work to solidify Australian support for President Bush's efforts.

For its part, the Indonesian government has been forced to drop its denial of the terrorism problem within its territories.

The bomb in Bali echoes around the world, teaching the bitter lesson that international terrorism is indeed that.

-- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Oct. 16

As the devastating explosion ... on the Indonesian island of Bali shows, the United States can lead the war against international terrorism -- but can't win it alone.

Indonesia -- the most populous Muslim nation -- is rapidly becoming a haven for domestic and foreign Islamic terrorists, who hope to use it as a new base of operations. However, President Mega-wati Sukarnoputri has chosen not to bear the political risk of tackling this enormous security problem head-on -- and her nation has just paid a steep price for her timid, ineffective leadership.

Despite pressure from the United States and Indonesia's neighbors, Megawati has failed to aggressively push for the passage of a strong anti-terrorism law that has been stalled in the Indonesian parliament. ...

... Any hope of defeating terrorism requires a high level of international cooperation -- which Megawati has unwisely chosen to withhold.The tragic folly of that approach should be obvious to Megawati and other Indonesian political leaders. The terrorists responsible for the Bali attack cared only about wreaking havoc against the West, and nothing about the serious harm they caused Indonesia.

-- The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.

Oct. 15

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