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WAR, TERRORISM AND BALI BOMB: Bali Bomb Raises `War on Terror' Rhetoric

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The explosion of two bombs at the Sari nightclub in Kuta Beach on the tourist hotspot of Bali, Indonesia has fuelled the rhetoric of advocates of the ``War on Terror''. Australian citizens are believed to have been the primary target of the bombing, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard has claimed this necessitates greater measures against terrorism.

Initial tentative claims by NZ Foreign Minister Phil Goff that the Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah were responsible [RadioNZ interview, 14th Oct, 2002] have been rivalled by US President George Bush, who said ``I think we have to assume its Al Qaeda'' who carried out the attacks, and linked it to his `War on Terrorism'. Bush was backed in this assertion by the Indonesian Defence Minister.

None of these claims have been substantiated, and denials have been issued by some groups (FPI and MMI) accused of the bombings. Ironically, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said it is ``too soon'' to know if Al Qaeda was involved.

The accusations of Indonesia being a base for terrorists has been countered by Australian academic Dr Greg Fealy and columnist David Miller, and rebuked by suspected Jemaah Islamiyah head Abu Bakar Ba'asyir who suggested US involvement. A meeting of Indonesian religious leaders also rejected the rumours of religious motivation for the attacks.

NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark has offered assistance and sympathy to both Indonesia and Australia, while confirming her desire to ``counter terrorism'', and likening the bombing to the September 11th, 2001 plane attacks. Full responses from around the world are at Scoop.

Update - 22 Oct 2002:

While Western governments have settled into their war on terror rhetoric as a response to the Bali bombing, and Howard's government have set up a spy base in Indonesia, journalist John Pilger rebuffs John Howard's attempts to use Bali to buy into the war on terror.

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP) has also issued a denouncement of the terror language and history of Australian intervention in Indonesia, while a young Kiwi expresses her concerns about youth response to the bombings.

The Indonesian authorities have subsequently arrested MMI leader Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, but have been criticised for the lack of evidence against him. Meanwhile, NZ PM Helen Clark has been accused of lying over the prior information the government had about the bombings.


[ US President Bush blames Al Qaeda | David Miller rebuts claims without proof | Scoop coverage: NZ political party views ]