August 06, 2003


The death toll in Jakarta now stands at 16, with 150 injured. Most of the dead are Indonesian Muslims. The blast was caused, according to one witness, by a suicide bomber in a Toyota. He is believed to have been a member of Jemaah Islamiah, whose accused spiritual leader yesterday refused to condemn terrorist attacks. Two senior members of JI are at large, and may have been responsible for planning the attack. Prime Minister John Howard says that the murders are “yet another reminder that the fight against Jemaah Islamiah and other groups goes on and it will be a fight that will take years.” An Australian injured in the attack is lucky to be alive. Other Australians have been warned to avoid central Jakarta. The attack caused a plunge in Indonesian share prices.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 6, 2003 11:04 AM

I would be interested in reading comments from Australians as to whether you are concerned about a terrorist attack in Australia proper. I look at the map and I see a short boat trip from Indonesia to an under-defended northern coastline of Australia. It appears to me to be a relatively simple thing to smuggle terrorists in to Australia from Indonesia, but I don't sense any real concern from the Australian population that it could happen there. Am I misreading the situation?

Posted by: Polly at August 6, 2003 at 11:20 AM

Polly, in my opinion, we are as much a target as any Western, pro-US nation. I guess you could say we have a better chance of attack than say New Zealand or Papaua New Guinea, both regional neighbours who have no strong stance either way. Australians are indeed concerned about our vulnerability to an attack, perhaps our renowned laid-back attitude hide this too well.

Our coastline is close to Indonesia but we have a formidable natural barrier between the north of Australia and the main centres of population. If blowing up desserts is their thing then so be it, we have earth-quakes in the outback every year and no-one notices. Terrorists could of course filter through via Darwin (as an example) but since known supporters of JI have flown straight into Melbourne and Sydney it doesn't pose as significant threat as other routes.

Posted by: Jake D at August 6, 2003 at 11:50 AM

further the the plunge in Indonesian share market values: for fundamentalist reactionaries, like communist revolutionaries - the worse it is for society, the better it is for them.
Their strategy is to maximise social despair in order to maximise their political power.
Make modern life so hopeless and unbearable that the masses will gladly accept Sharia law (Party diktat) in return for some peace.
Not that Broinowski, Kingston et al will ever wake up to this fact, as it reduces the culpability of Ockers.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at August 6, 2003 at 11:53 AM

The probability of the Islamo-fascists being able to successfully launch a terrorist strike in Australia is relatively small at this point in time becuase our security and intelligence gathering has been stepped up so much over the last two years. The proximity of Indonesia to our Northern Coastline isn't as big an issue as many people believe it is. As demonstrated by the bombings in Rhiyad and Jakarta, the little fuckwits are seeking soft targets in their own backyards.

Posted by: Razor at August 6, 2003 at 12:43 PM

"Yet another reminder" that governments around the world are doing as near as dammit sweet fuck all to combat terrorism.

I recommend another pointless war to create the illusion of progress and provide peace of mind to the gullible.

Posted by: Norman at August 6, 2003 at 02:40 PM

"Their strategy is to maximise social despair in order to maximise their political power.
Make modern life so hopeless and unbearable that the masses will gladly accept Sharia law (Party diktat) in return for some peace."

So true, this is their goal. Don't you think cooler heads would prevail and clue them in to the fact it's not working that way?

How many large countries have these Islamists ticked off? Quite a few by my count. Do they really think the citizens of those countries are just going to throw up their hands and yield to these thugs?

Stupid strategy, if you ask me. The countries they have angered are not likely to yield to their demands. Actually, the citizens of those countries are going to grow more determined to put an end to these terrorists, even if they have to be chased from one country to the next.

I *really* hope, for their sakes, they don't start blowing up places in Australia, the UK, or the US (again). We've been pretty restrained in the fighting, taking risks and casualties on ourselves, to avoid loss of innocent life. If people get angrier and demand swifter action we'll probably not be as restrained. I'd hate to see that happen. (Really.)

Posted by: Chris Josephson at August 6, 2003 at 02:44 PM

To Polly, who asks if Australians are worried about a terrorist attack on our mainland:

Yes. I live in Sydney - Nearly every person I know has expressed this fear. Work colleagues were guessing at one point where the attack would take place. The Opera House was a favourite guess.

Posted by: dee at August 6, 2003 at 03:17 PM

Hey, Chris J,

Upon whom are you proposing to inflict your righteous wrath?

And how do you propose to find them?

Posted by: Norman at August 6, 2003 at 03:24 PM

Jake D

Blowing up desserts - would that be Bombe Alaska?

No, seriously, the natural barrier argument looks a bit thin when you consider that two months ago a North Korea-sponsored ship dropped a load of drugs off Lorne (coastal holiday resort near Melbourne)which was successfully landed.

That shipment has now been linked to recently executed flashy criminal Jason Moran who lived in trendy, expensive, inner-city Melbourne suburb Moonee Ponds.

The security breaches in this case were breathtaking.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 6, 2003 at 03:52 PM

Fair point Norman. Unlike state-sponsored terrorist attacks these types use hide-and-seek tactics to their great advantage. It makes pointing the finger very hard and outright attacks harder still when the host nation these terrorist hide in is friendly to the anti-terrorist cause.

Posted by: Jake D at August 6, 2003 at 04:06 PM

Lawn's a hell of a lot closer than Kakadu, try walking that far with a car bomb ;-). I was directly answering Polly's question as to whether or not our northern boarder was a great risk to our national security and, in my not overly humble opinion, I don't think it is. Our borders have always been easy to cross but it would be much easier for Johnny Terrorist to get on a plane to Melbourne and build his bomb in Carlton rather than sneak in via the Cape and bring his tools with him, so to speak.

Your example of the Korean freighter supports my case, it's much easier to come in legally than try to sneak in from the north and travel south, or dump drugs off on to the beach in Vic, they got caught remember. Anyway, i'd love some dumb-arse to go strolling around the northern swamps Allahering on and walk into a nice big croc.

Also, my spelling sucks.

Posted by: Jake D at August 6, 2003 at 04:49 PM

Jake D

The ship was intercepted after the fact - several thousand kilometres away. And the cargo could have been something else. Bottom line here: rogue-state sponsored ship successfully lands unknown package on Australian soil - at the south end.

While the northern border is a great barrier for the Southern States, there is one problem - Darwin.

Having said that, I agree with the general thrust of your argument that it would be easier to enter legally and operate from within.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 6, 2003 at 05:13 PM

Not to flog a dead horse but the freighter was legally registered so was allowed to enter in the first place, had it been an "unknown" it would have had some earlier attention (as I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong). Other than that I agree with the rest of your last post. Our coastal protection is a joke.

Posted by: Jake D at August 6, 2003 at 09:49 PM

What we really need right now from John Howard is a statement declaring that Islam is the religion of peace, and that we are working closely with our Saudi allies to mitigate the problem of the small minority of "militants" within the islamic faith.

Posted by: Clem Snide at August 6, 2003 at 10:36 PM


I think his point was that the rules of engagement by western forces in Afghanistan and Iraq were driven with the concern to minimize civilian (non-combatants) loss of life and property. If western populations begin to get ticked off and decide that we are tired of the garbage, they may demand quicker more violent responses with less concern for the collateral damage that can occur. The US in Iraq could have wiped out the country and killed everything that moved, that obviously was not the plan, but the capability was there. The A-Bomb was dropped on Japan because the American political establishment and the populace were tired of Japan's tactics, and saw extreme death and mayhem coming from a traditional push to end the war. The Bomb actually probably saved more lives in the end, but it was a blunt instrument that killed both the guilty and innocent alike in dramatic fashion. I am not suggesting nukes today, but if you go into a country and express less concern for the damage you create you might get a little more cooperation in realizing your goal.

Posted by: JEM at August 7, 2003 at 02:26 AM

JEM summed up my point very well.

"Upon whom are you proposing to inflict your righteous wrath?
And how do you propose to find them?"

Same groups as now, those who support terrorists.
Find them the same way.

The targets won't change, the methods of illiminating the targets will. Faster and deadlier as JEM stated. The change will have taken place in the will of the citizens to patiently watch our soldiers be placed in danger.
Less tolerance for danger to troops. More tolerance for swift action and non-military deaths.

This is why I stated I *don't* want to see anything happen that could lead to this. I'd hate to see the US or its allies unleash the swift death and destruction we are capable of.

People complain about what's been done in Iraq in terms of force. Iraq is not a demonstration of the force we can muster. It's a *very* controlled and careful use of force.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at August 7, 2003 at 04:41 AM