What the world press is saying about the recent bombing of the Sari nightclub in Bali, Indonesia.
The only surprise about the bombing in Bali was that it did not happen sooner. More attacks are likely in a region closely woven into the global web of terrorism. Al Qaeda itself is a very small organization, not more than 3,000 members. In Southeast Asia they have co-opted some local radical groups, including Jemaah Islamiah... believed to also be trained in the Afghanistan camps of the group blamed for the September 11 attacks. Singapore is holding 31 suspected JI members, while neighbouring Malaysia has detained 63 alleged extremists belonging to the JI-linked Malaysian Militant Group (KMM).
The Bali blasts represent the second terrorist strike probably connected to the anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan.Since July, unconfirmed rumours have been circulating in Karachi and elsewhere about a large number of members of al Qaeda, including some leaders, such as Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama's number-two, having escaped to Bangladesh with the help of the Huji (Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, or Movement of Islamic Holy War), which has an active branch in Bangladesh assisted by the Bangladeshi military-intelligence establishment. The talk in the Pakistani madrasahs has been that members of the International Islamic Front would be carrying out a well-orchestrated series of terrorist attacks against Western nationals and interests in different parts of the world as warning signals to pre-empt U.S.-British military strikes against Iraq.
THE STRAITS TIMES, SINGAPORE
The horrific attack... was a terrorist's calling card, left conspicuously on the table in a way that could not fail to attract Bush's attention. The question is, does the American president know what it means? Somewhere in the crater filled with stagnant water that is all that's left of Bali's popular Sari nightclub, there is also a lesson for Bush, the U.S. government and its allies. The War on Terror cannot be solved by easy fixes. Unfortunately for the international anti-terrorism coalition... an easy fix -- militarily speaking -- is precisely what the coming American invasion of Iraq is all about. It is easier to strike at a conventional target like Saddam's presidential bunker than it is to fight a real war against terrorists... or protect innocent lives from terrorist bombs.
PHILIPINE DAILY INQUIRER
Choosing a predominantly Hindu island full of Western tourists in the world's largest Muslim country for a series of horrific blasts shows a kind of ingenuity that is becoming recognizable in recent times. Indonesia's president is... having to walk the razor's edge between the radical Islamist elements in her ruling coalition and the army, nurtured in a dictatorship for long enough to still assume certain unwritten prerogatives for itself.
THE TELEGRAPH, INDIA
The initial focus remains on various Islamic extremists operating in the region, especially the Jemaah Islamiah, which seeks to carve out a pan-Islamic state spanning a large part of Southeast Asia. (But) another theory is that the attack was masterminded by local ultra-nationalist groups that wanted to target the Australians for their key role in the secession of East Timor from Indonesia. If al Qaeda were indeed behind the blast, it would mark a change from its normal practice of bombing U.S. military and diplomatic targets to an offensive on the economic front. The recent attack off Yemen on a French oil supertanker was the first salvo in this new war on the economic front. The Bali attack is seen as another link in this new chain.
Indonesia is still seemingly very slow to act against terrorist activities. The tragic event came in the wake of several warnings that Indonesia has become a hotbed for Islamic militants.President Megawati Soekarnoputri's... government relies on the support of the Islamic political parties -- which might strengthen skepticism about the government's stand on terrorism and damage the image of Megawati's own party as it prepares to compete in the 2004 general election.
JAKARTA POST, INDONESIA
This may not have been the work of a global terrorist network, conspiracy or alliance, but a smaller, meaner act: an act of local vengeance. No doubt tapping the corrosive new resources of the global "War on Terrorism" for the material and gumption for mischief, but basically assailing local grievances.The Bali bombings may be linked to global affairs only in that America's blunderous new war is giving every garden-variety thug, hoodlum, malcontent and troublemaker in the world an excuse to make trouble and blame it on the Americans, the Muslims, the Elders of Zion, Osama bin Laden, corrupt politicians, capitalism, globalization, drunken Caucasians in general or the bossa nova, for all they care.
NEW STRAITS TIMES, MALAYSIA
As far as Indonesia is concerned, it is a real hard kick in the teeth of its economy in general and the tourism industry in particular. Tourism was expected to fetch $5.4 billion this year, with Bali accounting for half. The recovery of the whole economic edifice will depend on how the Indonesian government tackles the issue of terror. President Megawati Soekarnoputri is in a bind.
TIMES OF OMAN