Sunday, October 13, 2002


The sniper in Washington may be scary. But today in Indonesia a much more blatent act of terrorism has shocked the world.

Yahoo reports that Indonesia was the target of a terrorist bombing.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) - Terrified tourists tried Sunday to flee this island paradise that turned into an inferno, with the death toll from a pair of bombings climbing to 187 and fears growing that al-Qaida has taken its terror campaign to the world's largest Muslim country.

Many of those killed by the two bombs that tore through a nightclub district on Bali island Saturday were Australians as well as other foreigners from Canada, Britain, Germany and Sweden. Three Americans were among the more than 300 people injured.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombings — the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia's history — but suspicion turned to al-Qaida and an affiliated group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which wants to establish a pan-Islamic state across Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. It is accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. and other embassies in Singapore.

Why would al-Qaida, which wishes to unify the Muslim world, bomb a predominantly Muslim country? Well, Bali happens to be a major tourist resort for nearby Australians. Australia also happens to be one of a handful of countries that have already pledged support to Bush in an attack on Iraq.

Bali is a popular tourist destination, and 20,000 Australians were estimated to be on the island. Seven of the 24 dead identified by Sunday evening were Australian.

Upon further inspection, however, al-Qaida's motives are less clear. Bombing Australian tourists is likely to strengthen, not lessen, Australian support of the US-led push on Iraq. Did al-Qaida bomb Bali just to prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with, not be be outdone by some solo maniac in Washington? Perhaps. Many terrorist attacks, but specifically this one, seem to have no rhyme or reason.


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