September 20, 2004
JAKARTA BOMBING: 'PALE ECHO OF MADRID' BEFORE
AUSSIE, INDO ELECTIONS
** Dailies tie the
"Jakarta outrage" to upcoming elections in Indonesia and
** 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'--
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
'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
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202)
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
BRITAIN: "Murder In
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
"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
"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
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
"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."
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.”
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
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
"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
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 Indonesia...is 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."
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
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
"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
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "More Cooperation To Win War On
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
"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."
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
"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
"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
"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.”
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."
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
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."
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.”
"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."
"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.”
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."
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."