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Defence minister blames al-Qaida for Bali bombing JAKARTA - Indonesia's defense minister blamed al-Qaida and its extremist allies for the massive bomb attack that killed more than 180 people at a nightclub on the resort island of Bali. "We are sure al-Qaida is here," Matori Abdul Djalil said after a Cabinet meeting in Jakarta. "The Bali bomb blast is related to al-Qaida with the cooperation of local terrorists."
It was the first time that a top government official has implicated al-Qaida in Saturday's attack. Until now, police investigators have said they had few clues and no suspects. Fearing that terrorists could strike again, thousands of tourists were fleeing Bali on Monday amid suspicions that al-Qaida was behind the bombing.
The FBI and Australian detectives joined the hunt for the killers while forensic experts painstakingly tried to identify bodies many badly burned and mutilated. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, often the target of bomb threats, ordered all nonessential staff and dependents to leave Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.
A bomb threat shut down the embassy's club for the second day. The Australian school in Jakarta closed as a precaution. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Kuta Beach nightlife district the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia's history. Suspicion, however, has 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.
Jemaah Islamiyah has already been implicated in a plot at the beginning of this year to bomb foreign embassies in the region, and Australia says it is a prime suspect in the Bali attack. "The attack bears the hallmarks of JI," said an expert on al-Qaida, Rohan Gunaratna. "Only the JI has both the intention and capability to conduct a professional terrorist attack like the Bali operation."
Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric accused of leading Jemaah Islamiyah, strongly denied involvement. "All the allegations against me are groundless. I challenge them to prove anything," he said. "I suspect that the bombing was engineered by the United States and its allies to justify allegations that Indonesia is a base for terrorists," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Solo, a city in central Java, where he runs an Islamic boarding school.
Indonesian police refused to say whether Bashir would be questioned despite repeated calls by neighboring countries that he be arrested. Security Minister Bambang Susilo Yudoyono said there were signs that terrorists were planning attacks against key industrial sites, including Exxon Mobil's Arun liquified natural gas plant in Aceh and the Caltex refinery in Sumatra.
"We will increase the security alert in those areas," Yudoyono said after a Cabinet meeting. The United States and Indonesia's neighbors have urged Jakarta for months to pass an anti-terrorism law that has been languishing in Parliament contending there is a strong al-Qaida presence here.


Link to related event Related event:
Bali terrorist attack


Posted in Terrorism @ 14 October 2002 00:06 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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