International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 20, 2004

September 20, 2004





**  Dailies tie the "Jakarta outrage" to upcoming elections in Indonesia and Australia. 

**  Jemaah Islamiya (JI), al-Qaida's "best-known Asian subsidiary," is the likely culprit.

**  Indonesian authorities have clearly "failed to uproot" the menace of terrorism.

**  The region "must work together to root out the causes" of terror in Southeast Asia.




'Radical Islamist' efforts to 'shatter regimes are in vogue'--  Media outlets cited "al-Qaida's success in influencing the Spanish election" in March to explain the "inhumane and brutal" September 9 attack in Jakarta; "Islamic religious warriors" wanted to "create chaos: ahead of Indonesia's September 20 election.  Papers also saw an attempt to "influence the upcoming Australian elections" and defeat PM John Howard, who Germany's right-of-center Landeszeitung called a "loyal vassal of George W. Bush."  Australian dailies agreed their country, as the region's "frontline Western state," is a "high priority target."  The conservative Australian blasted this apparent effort to "sow confusion, uncertainty and demoralization into a democratic system." 


JI still a 'potent threat'--  The bombing proves Indonesia has "yet to break the back" of JI, the "Indonesia-based offshoot of al-Qaida."  Regional papers warned that JI's objective of establishing "a pan-Islamic fundamentalist state in Southeast Asia" remains a "continuing threat."  Singapore's pro-government Straits Times noted that "Indonesia remains at the heart" of JI's campaign:  an "International of terror...directed at America and its friends."  For Britain's left-of-center Guardian, the blast "strengthens the argument" that terrorism is "a global growth industry" that has shifted from al-Qaida to "far-flung associated groups" such as JI.


'Apparently lulled' by the recent calm--   Indonesian observers were "ashamed" that their local authorities chose to "ignore warnings" of an imminent attack.  Independent Media Indonesia worried the bomb "has torn down...our credibility as a nation," while Muslim -intellectual Republika demanded Jakarta "seriously deal" with JI regardless of which officials may have "silently defended them" in the past.  Some dailies alleged Indonesia was unwilling to close down "so-called Islamic boarding schools that teach hatred"; others merely said the bombing "reveals how far Indonesia still has to go" to combat terrorism.  


'Enhanced cooperation' to counter 'common enemy'--  Regional papers urged Indonesia's neighbors to "share intelligence information" and work towards "greater regional coordination."  Australian writers praised Jakarta's "very receptive" attitude towards assistance with the investigation.  The center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer called on Southeast Asia to "work together to root out the causes" of terrorism.  Several dailies held that the bombers "badly misjudged" the attack's "counterproductive political consequences."  Australia's liberal Sydney Morning Herald predicted that a "renewed revulsion within the Islamic community" to the tragedy would "strengthen support among Indonesians for strong anti-terrorism measures."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 50 reports from 16 countries over 10 - 19 September 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Murder In Jakarta"


The conservative Times declared (9/10):  "The spurious cult of 'martyrdom' that has endowed al-Qaeda's acts of evil with religious significance is one of the most revolting aspects of this perverted ideology.  Many bombers justify their crimes by absurd, even greedy, fantasies of future rewards in Paradise.  Some may be honestly deluded; but that cannot be said of the cynical masterminds of such bombings, who have learnt to manipulate naivety and mistaken idealism to serve a brutal political cause.  The Jakarta bomb underlines the effort still needed in the global campaign against terrorism.  But is also underlines the need for the entire Muslim world to extirpate the perverted religious fanaticism in its midst."


"Jakarta Bomb Misfires"


An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph read (9/10):  "Will yesterday's car bombing in Jakarta have a decisive electoral impact, as the blowing up of commuter trains in Madrid did last March?  The answer is almost certainly not.  Indeed, what effect it has is likely to work against its perpetrators' interests....  Whatever locals may think about John Howard's engagement in East Timor and Iraq, the bombing will hardly attract them to the Islamist cause.  In Australia, it will strengthen the prime minister's chances of winning an unprecedented fourth term on October 9....  In Indonesia...the bombing is likely to benefit Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general and security minister, rather than the incumbent, Megawati Sukarnoputri.  He is expected to be even tougher than she has been on the likes of Jemaah Islamiah....  The failure to hit the target and the apparently counterproductive political consequences of the attack suggest two things: first, that Indonesian security has improved since the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed 88 Australians, and, second, that the terrorists struck yesterday more to remind the world of their presence than to further their political goal of creating an Islamic state across much of South-east Asia.  All in all, a pale echo of Madrid."


"Target Of Terror"


The left-of-center Guardian held (9/10):  "Every successful terrorist attack is, by definition, a failure of security.  But protective measures put in place by Australian missions--Jakarta is the country's biggest in any foreign capital--seem to have helped minimise casualties....  Otherwise there is precious little to be optimistic about.  Terrorism is a global growth industry; as experts inside and outside government ponder the nature of the alleged links between the child murderers of Beslan in North Ossetia and an amorphous jihadist international, Jakarta strengthens the argument that the centre of gravity has shifted from a weakened al-Qaida to far-flung associated groups such as Jemaah Islamiya.  It is yet more bleak and bloody evidence that, three years since the twin towers came down, the world is still a very dangerous place--and that the war on terror is very far from being won."


GERMANY:  "The Role Of Civil Society"


Center-right Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung opined (9/10):  "Unlike in Pakistan, no one has done anything against so-called Islam boarding schools that teach hatred.  Even the Koran school of fundamentalist Bashir is still operating, even though many graduates from this school took part in terrorist attacks.  Steps against terrorism by the government and security agencies are important. They have been carried out with great seriousness for more than two years in Indonesia, but they can only contain terror.  The role of the Indonesian civil society is now important.  The gigantic, moderate Muslim organizations in the country with more than 70 million members must turn against terrorists committing murders in the name of the peaceful Islam religion."


"Living With Terror"


Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (9/10):  "Three years after the historic 9/11 attack, the attack in Indonesia shows how the security situation has changed.  'Hard,' symbolic targets, key sites of infrastructure of western societies are not unassailable but much better protected than any time before, but unscrupulous atrocities…cannot be prevented....  Even though an end of such attacks is not foreseeable, liberal democracies can register progress in the fight against terror since 2001.  Their greatest and, in the long run, most important strength is their ability to learn....  They had to pay dearly for some of the lessons...and if politicians draw the right conclusions from Madrid, then it is unlikely that the Indonesian and Australian elections could be 'tipped,' too.  Since 2001, it has also become clear what kind of devastating consequences it will have if liberal democracies betray their principles in the fight against terror.  The events in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo have seriously damaged the West's credibility....  In a first shock after 9/11, the West demonstratively closed its ranks, but soon reactions swayed between calls for brute force and fearful, naďve hopes on the power of dialogue.  Three years and many attacks later, sobriety and pragmatism prevail.  This need not be detrimental for the development of new strategies between Europe and the U.S.  On the contrary."


"Explosive Charge For Island Empire"


Arne Perras said in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/10):  "Whoever is responsible for the bomb attack in Jakarta, they did not want to hit the Australian Embassy, but the attack was also directed against the power of the Indonesian state that has been in a fight against an obscure network called Jemaah Islamiya....  The terrorists have foreigners as targets, thus trying to torpedo Indonesia's economic construction.  With every attack, they carry to the heart of the Indonesian metropolis, they frighten diplomats, business people and tourists....  On the one hand, the masterminds of these attacks are trying to destroy the basis of a globalized Indonesian economy.  On the other hand, the attacks in Indonesia show a pattern that became visible in the attacks in Madrid: an election campaign is going on in Indonesia and in Australia.  The criminals want to create chaos in Indonesia before the vote on September 20 and in addition, they pursue a global agenda....  The bomb plotters obviously act as the Asian arm of an International of terror that is directed against America and its friends....  This form of terror has not met with a fertile ground in the country...but if these extremists are able to infiltrate the schools in the country, the tolerant face of Islam in Indonesia could soon change.  The hesitant government in Jakarta must mobilize a lot of vigor in order to be able to counter this threat."  


"Influencing Elections"


Right-of-center Landeszeitung of Lueneburg noted (9/10):  "Again, we see a fruit that has sprung from the seed that was sowed during the Iraq campaign of the Bush administration.  And this is a dual form:  The attack on the Australian embassy is the lesson, which the Islamic religious warriors have learned from influencing the Spanish election with terror.  Moscow's announcement to carry out devastating strikes against terrorists on a global scale is now following the U.S. example that violates international law....  Like in the past, Australia is now faced with an election.  On October 9, the Australians have the right to vote on Premier Howard's hardliner course who, like his former Spanish colleague Aznar, considers himself a loyal vassal of George W. Bush."


ITALY:  "Massacre In Jakarta: Australia Targeted"


Roberto Fabbri wrote in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (9/10):  “Two days prior to the sinister September 11 anniversary, another bloody massacre was carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in Indonesia....  Once again, the victim is a western country that sent a military contingent to Iraq and whose citizens will soon be voting in Parliamentarian elections--Australia....  Besides the Australians, the attack also could have intended to influence Indonesian voters, since their presidential elections are only ten days away.”


"Osama Orders Car Bomb--11 Dead In Jakarta"


The conservative, top-circulation Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno syndicate indicated (9/10):  “Australia is paying for its all-out support for the war in Iraq....  The date chosen for the attack was not random, but rather tied to the upcoming elections in both Indonesia and Australia.  Furthermore, tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the Twin Tower attacks--a date which symbolizes international terrorism....  Yesterday’s attack marks the return of terrorism in a sensitive part of the world, and makes Australia even more defenseless and uncertain.”


RUSSIA:  "Replaying Spanish Scenario"


Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (9/10):  "Terrorist behind the Djakarta tragedy seem to be versed in world politics as well as in explosives, as they know how to plan ahead and use terror to 'drop' a government or make it review its policy.  In the Australia case,  Osama bin Laden's Asian comrades must have used the al-Qaida know-how that had worked so well in Spain last spring....  After the latest terrorist attacks in Russia and Israel, the Indonesia blast suggests that attempts to topple or shatter regimes are in vogue these days.   Only leaders sure of their being right and capable of proving this to their voters are immune from those."


HUNGARY:  "Without Mass Support"


Top-circulation center-left Nepszabadsag remarked (9/10):  “The Jemaah Islamiah is an isolated phenomenon in the [South-East Asian] region.  It has only a few members and they are practically not integrated within the society. The key figures of the JI’s military wing, based on their relationship and methods with al-Qaida, have created a satellite organization. The target of this satellite organization is the U.S., the West more broadly, and perhaps above all, the Christian people, of whom Australia is the most typical representative in the South-East Asian region.”


"Can Madrid Haunt?"


Levente Sitkei mused in right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet (9/10):  "The terrorists of the Jemaah Islamiah wanted to do something for the Australian Workers Party’s victory not in Australia, but in Indonesia. The AWP, if it won the elections scheduled for next February in Australia, immediately withdraw the Australian troops from Iraq, which would be another blow to the occupying military forces,  the ‘so-called’ multinational coalition.  A bombing on this scale might give more ammunition for those who oppose the war [in Iraq]. They can rightly ask their government the question: why do our sons and daughters fight in a remote country, against unknown people, for wrong causes and for unclear objectives.  But Indonesia is not Australia...and Jakarta suffered in this recent bombing, not Canberra. The Madrid scenario might work, but the terrorists can’t be one hundred percent sure of success for two reasons. One is that there are still six months left until the Australian elections. The second is the hostage-taking drama in Beslan, which can cause a big problem for the terrorists."




SAUDI ARABIA:  "Blast In Indonesia"


The pro-government English-language Arab News maintained (9/10):  "The Indonesian authorities already knew that they had yet to break the back of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists, despite their successes in the wake of the barbarous Bali bomb attack....  Property damage in Jakarta was extensive but as so often in such outrages it was entirely innocent locals who paid the price. It is hard to imagine how any human being could take pride in such wickedness or congratulate his fellow conspirators on their contribution to such carnage....  It is not hard to see why the Australian Embassy should have been yesterday’s target. In the wake of the Bali massacre, Australia has also worked closely with Indonesian security forces. Jemaah Islamiyah has lost three top leaders along with over 100 activists in the last two years....  It is also suspected that the group has been infiltrated by government agents in addition to being subject to intensive electronic eavesdropping by US spy satellites.  The...attack in the heart of Jakarta could as easily be a sign of desperation by the terrorists as a cold-hearted resumption of their depraved bombing campaign....  Thanks to the costly but effective precautions of the Greek authorities coupled with a massive security effort...terrorists were unable to mount any attack. Therefore pressure may have been applied to the Indonesian-based offshoot of Al-Qaeda to undertake fresh assaults.  The truth is that with every new bomb attack the terrorists are weakening their position. It is not simply that the majority of the population of appalled and outraged by these crimes carried out in the name of Islam. It is also that every new attack leaves evidence....  As this intelligence mounts so the terrorists become ever more exposed to the punishment they so richly deserve."




AUSTRALIA:  "Atrocity Bridges The Political Gulf"


The popular Sydney-based tabloid Daily Telegraph stated (9/13):  "As Mr Howard said, this was an attack not just on Australia through its mission in Jakarta, but also on Indonesia itself. And in recognizing the strengths of our democracy, we stand by our neighbor, Indonesia, a nation which also faces an election this year. As a younger democracy, where independence came only after World War II, but where the end of the Suharto era ushered in pluralism and free expression, this nation of 200 million has seen enough freedom to know that terrorists will never win.”


"The Common Front In The War On Terror"


The national conservative Australian concluded (9/11):  "Many Indonesians find it difficult to accept some of their countrymen are committed to killing Westerners--and any of their countrymen or women who get in their way. They will point to the fact that the two prime suspects in the Jakarta attack are both Malaysians as evidence that the common cultural distaste for confrontation in Indonesia makes terrorism an alien activity. They will argue that the subtle traditions of Indonesian Islam will overcome the imported dogmas of the extremist Wahabi sect....  They will indulge the Indonesian affection for conspiracy theories to claim Thursday's bombing was not an Islamic terror attack but was somehow connected to the imminent presidential election. This is a problem that impedes Indonesia's ability to fight the bombers, demonstrated by the way the Indonesian media often fails to focus on terrorism as a threat to the nation....  Across Indonesia there is a sense that to focus on Islamic terrorism is somehow a slur on pious Muslims. The terrorists play on this. The literal meaning of the name Jemaah Islamiah is 'Islamic group.'  Perhaps this explains why Indonesia's President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, has been loath to publicly denounce such organizations....  The terrorists are the enemies of ordinary Muslims who choose democracy as a way of life as much as they are the enemies of adherents of any other, or no, religious faith. It is time for the Indonesian media and government to proclaim what they already know, but are sometimes loath to admit.”


"Why They Detest Us"


Foreign editor Greg Sheridan wrote in the national conservative Australian (9/11):  “There is no short cut in the war on terror. The threat will get worse. Recently a JI manual was discovered detailing chemical and biological weapons procedures. There are still JI training camps in the lawless areas of the southern Philippines. Enhanced co-operation with Indonesia, renewed determination to wage the intelligence, political, police and military fight, national solidarity, the refusal to give the terrorists any policy incentive in our own behavior--this is our only alternative.”


"Security Back To Centre Stage"


Michelle Grattan observed in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (9/10):  “A terrorist attack on Australian soil or aimed at Australians abroad was always the nightmare scenario for the election campaign.  John Howard would not speculate about it publicly, but there was a lot of private agonizing over the possibility. Especially after the Madrid bombing before Spain's election, any country with a high profile in the war on terrorism and troops in Iraq has to be nervous. Arguably, that risk is increased where an opposition says it would pull the troops out. But as of last night, there was no evidence that affecting the election result was the objective of the attack, although Mr Howard and Alexander Downer both acknowledge Australia was the target....  [Opposition leader] Mr Latham has always argued that Mr Howard's foreign policy increased the risk of Australia falling victim to terrorism. This has now become the worst time to mount that case. At the same time, terrorism will for a while overwhelm other messages.”


"Proof We Are A Prime Target"


Greg Sheridan commented in the national conservative Australian (9/10):  “This is the fifth or sixth time al-Qa'ida or its Southeast Asian affiliate, Jemaah Islamiah, has tried to kill Australians. Many Australians have already died in the war on terror, in Bali and New York and Istanbul. It is time to accept that we are a high priority target for radical Islamist terrorism.  It is also clear that JI knows all about the Australian election timetable and that the timing of this bombing is no accident....  It is also time to accept that the terrorists are now determined to interact with democratic elections. This need not be as crude as simply trying to determine an election outcome, but to demonstrate a capacity to strike at a delicate time, to sow confusion, uncertainty and demoralization into a democratic system....  There will be a political effect in the US, too, where security agencies are on high alert, waiting for a terrorist attack in the run-up to November's presidential election. The whole world, from Iraq to Russia, from the US to Indonesia, from Turkey to Israel and the whole Arabian Gulf, is gripped by the specter of radical Islamist terrorism. From the slaughter of the innocents in Beslan, from airlines falling from the skies in Russia, to the murder of security guards and passers-by in Jakarta, this truly is the Age Of Terror.”


"Indonesia's Enemy Within"


Dr. Greg Fealy contended in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (9/10):  “The motives are puzzling, since yesterday's bombing, like the Marriott attack, was always more likely to kill--and injure--many more Indonesians than Westerners. As a result, there will be renewed revulsion within the Islamic community to the bombing, which will strengthen support among Indonesians for the strong anti-terrorism measures that have been taken already by the Indonesian Government. Indonesia has legislation in place to deal with terrorism, and the latest blast may serve to increase the political resolve of the Government to take additional steps.”


"Attack Underscores Reality:  JI Is Back In Business"


David Martin Jones asserted in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (9/10):  “Al-Qaeda has, despite its undisguised contempt for the democratic process, since the Madrid bombing of April 2004 discovered a highly effective method of injecting its presence into electoral politics wherever it manifests itself. In the Spanish case, it profoundly affected the result, and a successful intervention in the Australian, or US election would play upon electoral outcomes in a manner that would have more to do with popular hysteria than the mandate of the people. In the context of the continuing threat posed by radical Islamist groups in the region, and their asymmetric capacity to catch us off guard, prevention at home and pre-emption abroad will continue to dominate democratic politics and electoral outcomes for the foreseeable future.”


"Terrorists Win If They Destroy Friendship"


International editor Peter Hartcher observed in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (9/10):  “The purpose of terrorism is to sow fear, anger and confusion, so the responsibility of the national leadership is to strive for calm and rationality at a time when they are not naturally to the fore. The bombing in Jakarta yesterday was timed and placed to wreak maximum havoc....  [In response Indonesia and Australia’s] national leaders need to be exactly that, and not yield to any temptation to be politicians. John Howard's reaction yesterday was a model. He was serious but calm, and impeccably bipartisan....  Behind the scenes, the Australian Government is making every effort to give maximum assistance and impetus to the Indonesian counter-terrorism effort. And Australian officials reported that Jakarta was being very receptive....  Calm, rationality and unity of purpose--the terrorists will hate it.”


"United With Indonesia Against Terror"


The national conservative Australian editorialized (9/10):  "While we should be relieved no Australians were killed or wounded in yesterday's Jakarta terror attack, we should be united in horror that at least eight innocent Indonesians died and about 100 were hurt. It is essential that the people of Jakarta understand we respect, and share, their grief. This attack demonstrates the absolute contempt the mindless murderers responsible for the bombing have for all human life....  But the reasons for this attack are likely to go far beyond a delight in killing in a religious cause. The symbolism of an embassy attack makes clear this is another act of war against Australia and everything our country stands for. The fact it was conducted during our election campaign demonstrates JI's desire to cast its dark shadow over the contest....  Those who say that our involvement in Iraq made us a target for attacks like this are wrong. The Bali bombing occurred long before the war to remove Saddam Hussein. The idea that JI has a rational long-term strategy and is open to negotiation is simply not so....  Every bombing destabilizes the political process that can empower ordinary voters. And every bombing murders Muslims, adherents of the faith that the terrorists purport to protect. Yesterday's attack demonstrates that, in the war on terror, ordinary Australians and Indonesians alike have no option but to stand united against the common enemy.”


"When Terror Strikes Home"


International editor Tony Parkinson wrote in the liberal Melbourne-based Age (9/10):  “No doubt some will say the Jakarta bomb is a vicious retort to Howard's Iraq policy. It requires a medieval mindset to conceive of the sort of savagery the world witnessed in Beslan. The targeting of children defies the human spirit and trashes the principle of civilian immunity. It is another brutal reminder of why the phenomenon of megaterror demands a rethink of our assumptions about the nature of the international order. And if anyone in this country was ever tempted to dismiss these concerns as remote to our national interests, yesterday's blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta represents a further crude statement of malevolent intent....  Yet still the concept of blowback clouds the debate about how best to respond....  This business of attributing culpability to the targets of terror, directly or indirectly, is obnoxious. Worse, it leads into a metaphysical funk: paralysis via analysis.”


"A Time For Us To Stand Together"


The business-oriented Australian Financial Review commented (9/10):  "Anyone who needed convincing that Australia is engaged in a war against terrorism--and is the frontline Western state in that war in our region--must have received a rude shock yesterday. The bombing just outside the Australian embassy hasn't been claimed by any organization, but Indonesian police already suspect, with good reason, the terrorist masterminds of Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional offshoot of al-Qaeda. “


"Now That We Are The Target"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald stated (9/10):  "The bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta delivered an unequivocal message. Australia is, for the first time, the clear and specific target of Indonesian-based terrorists.“


CHINA:  "Fight Against Global Terror Should Continue"


Bi Lun commented in the official English-language China Daily (9/13):  “Thursday's deadly car bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia is a grim reminder that the global war on terrorism is far from won....  We express our strongest condemnation of the inhumane and brutal attack and convey our deepest condolences and sympathy to the victims and their families....  Australia is a staunch ally of the U.S., and has been a supporter of the war in Iraq. It still has more than 850 military personnel stationed in or around Iraq....  Acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, and whenever and by whoever they are committed....  Islamic extremists are believed to have tried to influence the upcoming Australian elections in which Howard is running on a pro-American, anti-terror platform in a tight race....  The blast also underlined the continuing threat of terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim nation despite a slew of arrests and convictions....  The spate of terrorist attacks in recent years throughout the world spoke volumes that without the world's solidarity the abhorrent slaughter of innocents will not abate.”


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "More Cooperation To Win War On Terrorism"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (9/11):  "Although no Australians died in the bomb attack at the Australian Embassy, the election situation in Australia is in a deadlock.  People worry that terrorists may target the Australian people or launch attacks in Australia before the October 9 election to influence the election results....  Some of the measures taken by the U.S. make people feel that the U.S. has adopted a double standard on countering terrorism.  They will include all that they do not like into the scope of terrorism but they will also use human rights as an excuse to stop others from countering terrorism inside one's own country....  The wrong policy of the U.S. has not only harmed itself but also harmed other countries.  It put some countries in an embarrassing position."


"A Grim Reminder To Stay On Guard Against Terror"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (9/10):  "The bomb blast in Jakarta yesterday was not entirely unexpected.  Sadly, it has confirmed fears that Indonesia was about to suffer another deadly terrorist strike.  But the nature of the attack has given rise to new concerns.  It reveals how far Indonesia still has to go if it is to combat the terrorist threat which lurks within its borders.  And the targeting of the Australian embassy has touched a raw nerve overseas.  Fears that this staunch U.S. ally would face terrorist attacks in the run-up to its general election next month would appear to have been realized....  Yesterday's bombing suggests that the threat posed by Jemaah Islamiah (JI) remains a big one.  Even if it was carried out by a different militant group, the conclusion is unavoidable; Indonesia--the world's most populous Muslim country--cannot afford to soften its stance on terrorism.  Its resolve will be tested as the country prepares for presidential polls on September 20, though both candidates have promised to take a hard line."


INDONESIA:  "Why Defensive"


Ulil Abshar-Abdalla held in respected independent weekly Tempo (9/19):  "Is it true that the claim [of responsibility of the bombing] was made by Jemaah Islamiyah? Did they really make the website, or ‘enemies of Islam’ did it to discredit certain Islamic groups?  All of us, and me too, are not sure about it.  We had better wait for the final investigation by the police....  But it is impossible that the website was made by those who do not believe in the Islamic teaching as a ‘religion of war,’ and those who dislike those groups that deviate from the true Islamic teaching....  I deplore those Islamic leaders who immediately showed concern when a certain Muslim group was accused of being the perpetrators as if this would mar Islam as a whole. After the Kuningan bombing, we heard some Muslim leaders hastily warn that we should not blame any certain group.”


"Mutual Trust Is Key In Dealing With Terrorism"


Nationalistic, government-leaning Harian Merdeka commented (9/14):  "The success of cooperation very much depends on the trust among the concerned parties. And this often becomes a problem.  For example: The U.S. intelligence had [reportedly] alerted the White House that there would be terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Clinton aides had also met Bush aides to tell them that the White House should concentrate on terrorism.  The failure in preventing the terrorist acts in the U.S. demonstrated the lack of inter-agency trust in the U.S. It is also the case in Indonesia. We have often reacted negatively to the travel warnings issued by foreign governments, especially the U.S. and Australia.  This attitude reflects the lack of trust among our officials to the travel warnings because they put them in the political dimension.  Unconfirmed information said that 45 minutes before the blast at the Australian Embassy, Australian intelligence had alerted the Indonesian police that there would be a terrorist act.”                    


"Terrorists Strike Again"


Business-oriented Bisnis Indonesia noted (9/10):  "Warning about possible terrorist attacks had been issued by several parties, domestic and external alike.  The U.S. State Department had reportedly also warned the Indonesian authorities that we should be more alert for possibilities pending the anniversary of the September 11 and the run-off presidential election.  It was ironic that the bomb exploded just when Police Chief Dai Bachtiar was convincing the parliament that the situation in the country was conducive and ready for the election ”


"We Are Ashamed"


Independent Media Indonesia editorialized (9/10):  "As a nation we are ashamed to be dubbed a den of crime.  We are ashamed because our police have not been able to prevent the series of bombings.  How could individuals such as Dr. Azahari and Noor Din Mohd Top, while on the run, be able to bomb again? A major bomb cannot be made within only one day.  It takes time to prepare it.  At this point we may pose a question as to where and what the security and intelligence authorities were doing at that time.  It was ironic that the bomb occurred just when there were a lot of reports about security threats to identifiably foreign offices and hotels in Jakarta.  The bomb yesterday has torn down all of our credibility.  Our credibility as a nation and the government’s credibility to protect its people.”


"Bomb And Bomb Again"


Independent Koran Tempo declared (9/10):  "The terrorist act yesterday occurred just two days before the anniversary of the September 11 tragedy in the U.S. and the target was clear: Australia, just like in Bali.  We might easily conclude that it was committed by Jemaah Islamiyah.  But we have to be careful with such a conclusion even it comes from the police.  If terror continues, we have to pose two questions: Does it mean that Indonesia, the police in particular, have failed to uproot terrorism? Or are there other terrorists that the police have failed to detect because the police are obsessed with easy way of blaming Jemaah Islamiyah?....  The government and the Parliament should work more seriously to protect the people."


"Whatever It Was, It Was A Cursed Act"


Muslim-intellectual Republika asserted (9/10):  "We have to fight the terrorists indiscriminatingly.  We do not need to talk about any religion any more, or about race, or about public positions.  We have to fight the terrorists together, including those who have silently defended them.  The security authorities must be prepared to deal with this.  The police must not play with this case.  Moreover, [it was as if] the bombing was to spite the recent establishment of the U.S.-funded Anti-Terror Detachment 88.”   


"Bomb And Bomb Again, Till When?"


Leading independent Kompas contended (9/10):  "It is easy to predict the impact of the bombing.  The governments of the countries that issue travel warnings would say that they were right.  The tourism industry that had began to return to normal after the Bali bombing could worrisomely be affected again.”


"Bomb Blast Harmful To Us All"


Christian-oriented Sinar Harapan declared (9/10):  "Given the situation, the terrorist act could have been aimed at punishing the Australian government and an attempt to destroy Jakarta-Canberra relations.  But this would as well force Indonesia to take a harsher stance against terrorism.  Or could there be other motives that only certain people are aware of?  So what are we supposed to do?....  Not only Australia, but all of us are threatened by terrorism, which makes it our common enemy.  Therefore, let us reflect why all this has happened.” 


"United Against Terrorism"


Independent Suara Pembaruan observed (9/10):  "Whoever the perpetrators and no matter the motive, we need to catch them and their network and bring them to justice as soon as possible....  There should be no more part of this nation who hides and protects the terrorists.  The fact that Azahari and Noordin Top are free to move around indicates that some people support their brutal action plan.  We have to seriously deal with this group of people who are behind the terrorist actions because this shows that they have a wide network.  Therefore, a common view and action by all the components of the nation is needed in fighting terrorism.”


"Terror Bomb Again Shocks Us"


Pro-Golkar Party (opposition) Suara Karya concluded (9/10):  "The bombing should make us realize that this country is not yet free from terrorist threats. And it also proved that the travel warning that the U.S. government issued that U.S. citizens should not travel to Indonesia was not a hoax.”


"Bombing Terror Rocks Again"


Muslim-oriented Pelita commented (9/10):  “Whatever the motive behind the bombing, it clearly constituted a cursed act.  It was not only intended to create terror, but it has caused death and loss of property. It seems difficult for us to understand how a person could have lost his/her conscience and easily committed such a desperate and barbaric act of bombing.”


"Fighting An Uneven Battle"


The independent English-language Jakarta Post declared (9/10):  "The horrendous bomb attack that occurred in front of the Australian Embassy in Kuningan, South Jakarta, yesterday morning, hammers home the fact that there can be no respite in the fight against terrorism. The undeniable fact is that while terrorists have the luxury of being able to watch their prey and strike without warning, the authorities have to be forever on the alert, unable to allow their vigilance to slacken for even one moment in the knowledge that the enemy might strike at any time. It is therefore all the more disturbing that, in the case of yesterday's attack, the Indonesian authorities--apparently lulled by months of comparative peace in the capital city--appear to have chosen to ignore warnings that were issued only last week by the American and Australian governments, alerting their citizens to the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack in Indonesia. As one may recall, on Aug. 5 last year, a similarly powerful blast ripped through the front of the JW Marriott Hotel, which is located in the same business district in which the Australian Embassy is located. That catastrophe, too, might have been prevented had the security authorities taken foreign intelligence warnings of a possible impending attack more seriously....  It seems to many of us that after the good work they did in Bali in 2002, our police officers and intelligence agencies have somehow allowed their vigilance to slacken. Let yesterday's bomb attack be a strong reminder, not only them but for all of us, that the fight against terrorism knows no respite. Not only must further attacks be prevented, the seeds of terrorism must be eliminated at the source, not with force, but with wisdom and tact. In conclusion, let us join in the pain and in the sorrow of those who suffer and who have lost their beloved in this horrendous incident.”


MALAYSIA:  "Insecure State"


Amir Sarifudin wrote in government-influenced Utusan Malaysia (9/17):  "The incident of the car bomb attack outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta on 9 September has indirectly put the country back into an insecure state once again....  This state has also made some other countries in this region and Western countries remain vigilant. If the militant activities of Jemaah Islamiyah [JI] are not dealt with seriously, they will spread everywhere. In this case, Malaysia, without exception, has also suffered from the 'impact' of the bomb attack."


"Needed:  More Regional Coordination"


The government-influenced English-language New Straits Times editorialized (9/13):  "Thursday's bombing should serve as a spur to greater regional coordination....  Effective counter-terrorism cannot rely exclusively on coercive measures." 


NEW ZEALAND:  "Those Muslim Neighbours"


The Southland Times declared (9/16):  "Yet another bomb blast, this time in Jakarta, has nine, maybe a dozen, dead and 182 wounded.  The target was the Australian embassy and the significance of that, particularly following the Bali nightclub bomb blast, seems to have trumped the detail that the actual victims were just Indonesian citizens.  Muslim citizens, mostly....  However, it becomes important that there be no Australasian huddle founded on the assumption that Indonesia has become essentially hostile.  In fact, the closer such violence gets to the Anzac nations--and it is creeping this way--the more important it becomes to know thine enemy.  It is not Indonesia. It is not the typical Indonesian citizen....  It is not even a substantial minority of Indonesians....  The level of support for the likely culprit, the al Qaeda-linked cell Jemaah Islamiah, is generally held to be tiny....  Indonesia has been taking a legitimate role in more rightfully targeted, and appropriate, anti-terrorist measures....  Of course, protective measures at and within our own borders are necessary. Conventional wisdom has it that New Zealand is likely to be more useful to terrorists not as a target but a backwater from which to co-ordinate attacks on other targets."


PHILIPPINES:  "Booby-trapped Cars"


The editorial in the top-circulation, center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer read (9/13):  "The car bomb that exploded outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta last Thursday was not the first to target Australians....  The JI claim justified the attack, which killed nine Indonesians and injured 180 others, as retaliation for Australia's participation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, but an SMS message received by the Indonesian police some 45 minutes before the bombing gave another reason: the group wanted its leader, the cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, freed from jail....  The Jemaah Islamiyah--the deadly al-Qaeda-linked group that seeks to establish a pan-Islamic fundamentalist state in Southeast Asia through whatever means--sees the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq as an attack on Islam itself....  The detention of Bashir, their spiritual leader, is another such provocation; for all practical purposes, he is already a martyr, inspiring more martyrs....  As last week's bomb attack proved, the JI may be on the run, but it remains a potent threat....  Collaborative police and intelligence work is only half the story. It isn't enough to catch the martyrs before the bomb is lit; the allies in the international war on terror must work together to root out the causes that lead to the making of martyrs in the first place.”


"In A Larger War"


The top circulation, center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer editorialized (9/13):  "Acts of terrorism are skirmishes in a larger war; they are battles in the war of ideas and images. There is deliberate symbolism in the timing of the Jakarta attack, just days before the third anniversary of the September 11 strike....  There is also an element of political calculation. The Australian federal elections will be held a month from now, and Australia's role in the so-called Coalition of the Willing is a critical election issue. The al-Qaeda railway bombings in Madrid last March led directly to the ouster of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's pro-U.S. government. The Jakarta bombing seeks to do the same: to roil the political waters, to start a wave of sympathy and revulsion and outrage strong enough to sweep Australian Prime Minister John Howard's government out of power.  What does all this mean? Terrorists have grown more cunning. They now have a better feel for where the democracies are most vulnerable: in the very political exercise that marks them as democratic--the conduct of elections. Through well-timed acts of terror, they now seek to decide the outcome of the vote.”


SINGAPORE:  "Attack On Indonesia" 


The pro-government Straits Times opined (9/10):  "Yesterday's bomb blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta raises important questions about the timing, intention and consequences....  Whether it was intended to be a symbolic reminder of 9/11 or meant to influence political outcomes can only be guessed at. The implications for Australia are less clear than they are for Indonesia....  Both the John Howard government and the opposition are firm they would not bow to terrorists. Pro forma as that may seem, it is really unclear how the Jakarta outrage will make a difference in the Australian polls. More important is what happens in Indonesia itself....  Indonesia remains at the heart of JI's final goal--to unite Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern Philippines into an Islamic state--and whatever terrorists can do to destabilize the archipelagic nation has an effect on security in the wider region. To say this is not to devalue the firm stand against terror which the government of the world's largest Muslim country has taken....  However, the fringe's capacity to cause damage to the centre is a perpetual concern. Yesterday's attack not only caused Indonesian shares and the rupiah to tumble--although they steadied later--but will also reinforce perceptions of the country as being terror-prone, even as it consolidates its economic recovery from the Asian financial crisis. Admittedly, it is not possible to predict and stop every terrorist attack, but Jakarta needs to continue raising intelligence levels and enforcement action so that attacks can be prevented."


THAILAND:  "Indonesia Shows Democratic Spirit"


The top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post judged (9/13):  "The blast, which killed and maimed only innocent bystanders--all Indonesians apart from one 5-year-old girl--may have had a political message.  Indonesia and Australia are holding election campaigns; the world is marking the third anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks on America.  Just as likely, the extremists killed because they could.  And that is the problem that the winner of next week's election will have to face.  Ms. Megawati, Mr Yudhoyono and Indonesian officials have reacted to the Bali and Jakarta bomb attacks with quick arrests and court convictions.  But Jemaah Islamiyah supporters continue to recruit young people through a network of radical political schools, and terrorism is still too easy in Indonesia.  The winner of next Monday's vote must establish quick accountability in a country where terrorists are too free to threaten both the democratic gains and the peace of the region.”


"Region’s Fight Against Terror"


The top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post declared (9/11):  "If the Jakarta bombers expected to affect either Indonesian or regional politics the way the Madrid bombers changed Spain, they badly misjudged.  By killing nine people and maiming dozens of others, the extremists hardened the determination to get on with normal affairs while pursuing terrorists....  It is impossible to know whether JI had any intentions beyond causing blood on the streets of Jakarta....  Today marks the third anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington, which killed 3,000 innocent people.  Jemaah Islamiyah, as the best-known Asian subsidiary of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, may have intended to mark the 9/11 anniversary.  Or perhaps the JI leaders had no ulterior motives, and merely concluded, like Lenin and others, that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize.  Except that the Jakarta suicide bombing has failed to terrorize....  It is imperative that Southeast Asian nations redouble their efforts to share intelligence information and work to root out terrorists in our midst.  The current leader of Jemaah Islamiyah and the chief suspect in the Jakarta bombing is Azahari Husin, a British-educated Malaysian engineer....  So long as other bombmakers like the Malaysian Azahari are at large, the lives of innocent people are at stake.”




CANADA:  "Aussie Election"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press opined (9/14):  "The bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta last week did not do much damage to its intended target.  Nine people were killed, all of them Indonesians, and 170 injured, only a few of them Australians. Even so, the terrorists, believed to be from a group linked to al-Qaida, have made an impact in Australia, where an election will be held on Oct. 9. Until the Jakarta incident, the election had focused on immigration and economic issues without creating many sparks. The economy is doing nicely and immigration is a perennial issue in a nation that has never made up its mind how to welcome foreigners and what kind of foreigners to welcome.  The attack appears to have been designed to influence the course of the Australian election. With al-Qaida's success in influencing the Spanish election earlier this year and the withdrawal of that country's troops from Iraq after the Madrid train bombings, the Islamist extremists may have thought they could accomplish something similar in Australia....  The Jakarta bombing has turned the Australian election into a preview of the American election....  In both countries, two political rivals show no softness on terrorism, but offer different approaches on how to deal with it. In both countries, the electorate is about evenly divided between the two. Less than a month separates the two elections, now being fought on the same issue and with same third party--al-Qaida--for the first time playing a major role. Both nations have a muscular approach to international affairs. What happens in Australia in October may offer some clue to the currents shaping the November election in the U.S."


ARGENTINA:  "Australia's 9/11"


Paula Lugones wrote in leading Clarin (9/10):  "Australians already have their 9/11. Although the number of victims was substantially lower than Madrid's 3/11, clearly, the attack was aimed at Prime Minister John Howard, a Conservative who risked everything by siding with George Bush and sending 850 soldiers to Iraq. Like in Spain, the attack was perpetrated immediately before a general election, in a very tight race, and where support for war is decisive (opinion polls indicate that support for Australia's participation in the Persian Gulf is only 30%) Therefore, the Jakarta bombing once again targets those governments which, disregarding what most of their people want, risk their men in remote places, without clear benefits other then being cordially received at the White House. Overnight, the 'peaceful Australia' became a clear and declared target of the most violent terrorists."



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