ShareThis Page
Calls to act against terror increase |

Calls to act against terror increase

| Monday, October 14, 2002 12:00 a.m

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The bombings that laid waste to a nightclub and killed 187 people on the island of Bali follows months of warnings and pleadings for Indonesia to act to prevent terror attacks.

Indonesia’s neighbors and terrorism experts have frequently voiced exasperation that in a region where al-Qaida is known to be active — and Indonesians are suspected of being ringleaders of affiliated networks — the government in Jakarta has been slow to react.

An Indonesian politician added his voice to the chorus Sunday, claiming that rumors had swirled through Parliament for days that there could be a terror attack if the United States went to war against Iraq.

“I believe the Indonesian intelligence was warned about this,” said Alvin Lie, a member of the moderate National Mandate Party. “I have no information about what they have done. I feel the Indonesian government has been too slow in acting to prevent such incidents.”

Security officials in Malaysia have privately called neighboring Indonesia “a black hole” in counterterrorism where authorities failed to arrest suspects and were unable to find explosives that al-Qaida operatives are believed to have stockpiled.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

Last week, Singapore’s Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that they felt that Prime Minister Megawati Sukarnoputri’s government was coming to grips with the problem.

But the United States and Indonesia’s neighbors have urged Jakarta for months to pass an anti-terrorism law that has been languishing in the Parliament. Without the law, Indonesia says, security forces cannot arrest suspects without clear evidence they have committed a crime.

In Malaysia and neighboring Singapore, police have arrested scores of suspects allegedly involved with a Southeast Asian militant group, Jemaah Islamiyah, that hopes to create an Islamic state in Malaysia, the southern Philippines, and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country.

The group, linked to al-Qaida, allegedly was plotting last winter to launch a series of bomb attacks against the U.S., British and Australian embassies and other Western targets in Singapore.

Observers speculate they were behind Saturday’s blasts.

Malaysia and Singapore are holding the suspects without trial under national security laws dating from the British colonial era.

Among those detained in Malaysia is Yazid Sufaat, who allegedly allowed two of the Sept. 11 hijackers to meet al-Qaida operatives at his apartment in 2000.

Yazid is accused of obtaining four tons of ammonium nitrate, the same agricultural chemical used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Malaysia was able to trace the ammonium nitrate as far as the Indonesian island of Batam in January, but it has never been found.

Fears about the location of the ammonium nitrate resurfaced around the time of the Sept. 11 anniversary, when the United States closed many of its diplomatic missions in Southeast Asia. Among the threats cited were truck bombs.

Indonesia’s neighbors also have pressed Jakarta to deal with Abu Bakar Bashir, a radical cleric they say is a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. Bashir, who lives freely and has sympathizers in Megawati’s government, denies being involved with terrorism.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.