JI is Back with a Bang
The Marriott was again bombed in Jarkata. Australia has warned its citizens of holidaying in Indonesia after the recent bombing. Good move considering that ever since Howard took on the role of the US’ deputy sheriff for this region, it is a prime target for JI. The bombings in Bali in 2002 made Australians sure of the bullseye on them. But Australia was never this cautious about the JI. One month before Bali 2002, some in the Australian media scoffed the idea of JI terrorism in the region and insinuated it was pure rubbish. Famous last words.
The 2009 comeback bombing is hopefully an isolated one and not a return of the yearly JI bombings in Indonesia from 2002 to 2005 which saw Bali struck twice. While life must go on and terrorism can never be prevented, and fatigue would result from constant vigilance, I think it is still unfortunately too early to dismiss the JI and the JI-inspired scourge just yet. The militants like to remind us that they are still dead set on their terrorism.
When will our turn come and can we survive it?
Travel warning as more terrorist attacks expected
Tom Allard Herald Correspondent in Jakarta
July 20, 2009 – 12:15AM
THE Australian Government has warned that more terrorist attacks could be staged in Jakarta after the twin blasts that killed nine and injured more than 50 at the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels on Friday.
By smuggling bombs into heavily protected buildings and by targeting a breakfast meeting of executives, it is becoming clear the murders were a sophisticated operation involving many people.
But there have been no arrests. The man many suspect of being the mastermind, the Malaysian-born terrorist Noordin Mohammed Top, remains a fugitive.
“There is a possibility of further terrorist attacks in Jakarta and elsewhere in Indonesia, including Bali,” a government advisory said yesterday. “Reconsider your need to travel.” It is the second-highest level of alert, below the blanket warning of “do not travel”.
Three Australians died in the attacks: Craig Senger, Nathan Verity and Garth McEvoy.
Investigators were yet to identify either of the suicide bombers, said Nanan Soekarna, a national police spokesman. They are continuing to try to reconstruct their features from their severed heads.
There was speculation late yesterday that Nur Hasbi, also known as Nur Sahid, would soon be revealed as one of the suicide bombers. The man’s father, Muhammed Sahir, was visited in his Central Java village by investigators, who may have taken a DNA sample to match the bomber’s corpse.
A room in the Marriott that was the control centre of the operation was booked under the name Nurdin Aziz. Police are still trying to establish the bona fides of that name. A terrorism analyst, Sidney Jones, said she suspected the man was Nur Hasbi, a member of a terrorism group led by Noordin.
The discovery of a laptop believed to belong to one of the suicide bombers in a room at the Ritz Carlton could be a breakthrough for the investigation.
Chryshnanda Dwi Laksana, of the Jakarta police, said it contained information and codes, believed to have been used by the bombers to communicate with each other.
Australian security forces and the Malaysian and Singaporean governments are assisting in an intensified hunt for Noordin, who has played a role in terrorist attacks in Indonesia going back to the first Bali bombings in 2002.
The bombs used on Friday were similar to one uncovered at the home of Noordin’s father-in-law in Cilacap three days before the attacks. They are also like the bombs used in the second Bali bombings organised by Noordin.
Australia’s national security committee of cabinet has met four times since the bombings as intelligence chiefs briefed senior ministers on developments.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, described the Jakarta bombings as “a violent, barbaric act of murder”. He said Mr Senger, an Austrade officer, was the first Australian civilian official killed by terrorists while on duty.
Mr Senger’s family issued a statement yesterday saying what a wonderful husband, son, brother and friend he was.
“Craig greatly enjoyed his life in Jakarta,” the family said. “He performed a rewarding job that he loved and he really valued the many friends that he had made there.”
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, visited the sites of the bombings and spoke to family members of the Australian victims, including Mr Senger’s wife, Kate.
Mr McEvoy’s family flew to Jakarta from Brisbane to reclaim his body. Mr Verity’s wife, Vanessa, and father, Peter, visited the morgue where the remains of the Perth businessman were being kept.
Mr Smith paid tribute to the staff at the embassy in Jakarta, many of whom knew Mr Senger, who had worked there. “It has been a really terrific display of sympathy and solidarity to fellow Australians,” he said.
with Brendan Nicholson
Singapore facts stranger than fiction
September 21, 2002
By Mark Baker
THE latest Singapore government revelations about a plot by local Muslim fundamentalists to launch a series of terrorist attacks give the distinct impression that the murderous reach of al Qaeda is flourishing in Southeast Asia.
Increasingly breathless media reports in recent days have fuelled suggestions that the region has narrowly escaped a ferocious onslaught and that the danger is far from over.
The truth is stranger, and tamer, than such fiction. Stripped of the emotive language of terrorist cells and jihads, of shadowy operatives and clandestine codes, the latest disclosures by the Singaporeans if anything reveal how amateurish and naive the alleged conspirators were – and how comprehensively their plotting has been exposed and defused.
In a statement released late on Thursday, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said that 21 alleged Muslim militants arrested last month had been plotting attacks on the Defence Ministry, Changi International Airport and strategic facilities including water pipelines and communications installations.
The group was said to be affiliated with 15 other men arrested last December and accused of conspiring to attack US military targets in Singapore and Western embassies, including the Australian high commission.
Almost all of those now being detained without trial for two years under the Internal Security Act are claimed to be present or former members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian-based Muslim movement the Singaporeans and the Americans insist is the regional front for al Qaeda.
So who are these latest villains? Among a motley crew of delivery drivers and tradesmen are a butcher, a used-car salesman and a part-time foot reflexologist (who may have been pulling the leg of the earnest officers from Singapore’s intelligence agencies).
The evidence against them hardly smacks of a serious threat: a few photos of buildings and pipelines purported to be the result of surveillance operations, documents detailing a rough organisational structure and some shorthand pads with amateurish illustrations of military training. Not a weapon or an explosive device in sight.
Most improbable of all is the Singaporeans’ headline-grabbing allegation that the group was conspiring to design attacks that would be blamed on Malaysia, would in turn destabilise relations between the two countries and eventually lead to sectarian violence that would trigger the fall of the Mahathir government.
“The aim was to create a situation in Malaysia and Singapore conducive to overthrowing the Malaysian government and making Malaysia an Islamic state,” the Home Affairs Ministry reported, without a hint of incredulity.
The authorities also earnestly reported that three of the latest detainees had undergone weapons training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. What was not spelled out was that that training took place in early 1990s when the US-backed mujahideen groups, including Osama bin Laden’s, had been fighting a common Soviet enemy.
Another detainee is accused of spending time at a southern Philippines training camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – the main separatist group fighting for a Muslim homeland in Mindanao and a group the Philippines Government now recognises in peace talks.
Most of the incidents detailed by the Singapore authorities date back to 1999 and early 2000. No evidence has been produced that the accused militants were active in any serious way in the lead-up to September 11 last year or since.
In perhaps the most pertinent passage buried deep in the long account of alleged conspiracies released on Thursday, the authorities conceded: “None of these efforts is known to have led to a fully developed or finalised plan for attack.” Independent defence analysts are sceptical about how serious a threat Osama bin Laden’s alleged surrogates ever posed.