August 07, 2003


“They can't defeat America, so they killed some folks having lunch,” writes Ralph Peters of this week’s bomb attack in Indonesia. They’re a strange bunch, your self-detonating Islamocidal frag-martyrs; all blessed up but with nowhere to blow, they prefer to murder fellow Muslims rather than let that precious potassium chlorate go to waste. Their ambition may be, as Glenn Reynolds says, “a nuclear bomb in Manhattan”, but they’re presently only capable of a Toyota in Jakarta. You know the old joke about getting to Carnegie Hall? The answer isn’t “drive across the Pacific in your explosive delivery van.”

Maybe they know that joke. After all, Indonesia’s blast masters practice often enough. But they’re stuck playing at home. And as a terrorist slogan, “Think global, act local” doesn’t cut it.

Meanwhile, consider the effect of this attack on what we might call Jemaah Islamiah’s target audience. We were warned that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would cause Muslims the world over to rise up in outrage against the West; that hasn’t happened, but the attacks in Bali and Jakarta may provoke across Indonesia an even greater opposition to terrorism than already exists.

Muslim terrorists might soon discover how dangerous it is to alienate the world’s largest Muslim population.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 7, 2003 03:45 AM

Heh. Did you notice Ralph Peters' sig for his column?

"Ralph Peters traveled to Indonesia's most notorious 'terrorist hotbeds' in 2002 and found Australians drinking beer by the pool."

Posted by: Patrick Phillips at August 7, 2003 at 04:14 AM

Ralph Peters traveled to Indonesia's most notorious "terrorist hotbeds" in 2002 and found Australians drinking beer by the pool.

Ralph doesn't realise it was the beer drinking and cossie wearing that prompted the bombing. He should broaden his horizons by reading some Broinowski. Then again, maybe not.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at August 7, 2003 at 04:16 AM

Muslim terrorists might found out what happens when you piss off the Indonesian army. I hope.

Posted by: Yobbo at August 7, 2003 at 06:57 AM

Every government and his dog have strategies to 'deal' with the problem of Islamist terrorism in Indonesia. But so far no-one has seen the root problem.

Remember decades ago when the Catholic Church was quoted as saying 'Give us a child for the first five years, and we've got him for life'?

Arab sponsored Islamists have set up boarding schools throughout Indonesia, within which they sponsor a charade of true Islam, promoting a series of books known as Sunna and Hadith above the actual Muslim holy book, the Al Quran.

These Sunnah and Hadith contain spurious 'quotes' and reported 'doings' of the phophet Muhammad -- everything from what foot to enter the bathroom with, through to which order to cut one's fingernails. All based on the supposed precendents set by Muhammad.

Some were written up to 800 years after the prohet's death. All were propaganda devices used by the two warring Muslim factions of the time. What a joke. Joke that is, until you realise the extent of the hatred sown within these books.

Feed that pap to economically bereft citizens who have already lived for 350-odd years under the thumb of various oppressors -- from the Dutch to Suharto -- and you have the recipe for JI recruiting successes.

My answer is to defeat JI-style propaganda with sound Islamic theology from within the Al Quran, which contains quotes like 'there shall be no compulsion in religion' and 'you belive what you believe, and I believe what I believe -- we can't agree, but we respect each other's beliefs.' (Both quotes paraphrased, but essentially correct).

Even verses which fanatics use to goad the duped to further terror excesses can only be used as single, stand alone verses. Once viewed in context, they are part of historical accounts of battles about to be entered by Muhammad and his army -- not commands for the future.

Indonesian terrorists first need to learn how deeply they have been conned and manipulated.

Posted by: John Wey at August 7, 2003 at 07:12 AM

John Wey:

Where in the Quran can I find your quotes?

The islamic terrorists often use Sura 9:5 from the Quran to justify their own particular method of religious propagation.

Posted by: wv at August 7, 2003 at 08:14 AM

If the only solution to the problem is that we in the west must make known to Muslims a variety of Islam that we claim is "true" Islam, as opposed to that taught in Mecca, Medina, Qom, Najaf and Tehran, then there is no solution to the problem.

Perhaps the problem is that the terrorists are practicing Islam in conformance with most Muslims' views? Perhaps Islamic culture has, after suffering deeply demoralizing defeats at the hands of another culture, transformed its grievances into an all-encompassing "volkish" ideology that exhults the purity of the chosen and the need to deal with the unclean "non-volkish" peoples on a continuum based on how unclean they are, from the Jews (who are to be exterminated) to the Christians (who are to live by Muslim sufference and pay an infidel tax)?

I've yet to hear one convincing argument refuting the proposition that if the German culture of the 1930s was able to take a mass leap into an incoherent homicidal ideology, then the Muslims of the 2000s are capable of the same thing.

And, "we can't go to war against 1/5th of the population" isn't such an argument. Instead, it simply points out the awfulness of the truth. Like it or not, this is an existential battle. And unless and until the West delivers the Muslims
a shockingly demoralizing defeat, as we did to the Germans and the Japanese, they will continue with their ideology.

I know that is frightening. But there you have it. I could be wrong, but I don't think so, though, truth be told, I fervently hope so.

Posted by: KevinV at August 7, 2003 at 08:30 AM

You have a serious problem with the Koran - it is an extremely difficult thing to make sense of, in large part. It is poetic, indirect, disorganized and contradictory. Which makes the almost universal Muslim attitude of literal reading of the Koran very hard to pull off.

Muslims long ago gave up on the Koran as the sole or ultimate source of guidance. For instance, the Koran only specifies praying twice a day, the practice of praying five times is in the Hadiths and the long accepted interpretations thereof. There is no remaining route to a pure Koran.

The one route out of the textual scholarship basis of Islam is the Christian (Catholic and many others anyway, pioneered and justified by St. Augustine) practice of identification of first priciples and interpretation through logic. There was in fact an Islamic school of thought along these lines, but it was long since been sidelined.

Posted by: luisalegria at August 7, 2003 at 09:29 AM

John Wey, the problem with the more tolerant verses you refer to is that they have been replaced by the more violent ones according to the abrogation doctrine. The later verses dictated to Mohammed when he was militarily strong are considered to have abrogated the verses he received when he was militarily weak and thus looking to make converts by the heart rather than by the sword.

In order to make your suggestion work, you have to get rid of the doctrine of abrogation, which would take some doing.

Posted by: Irene A. at August 7, 2003 at 10:09 AM

Speaking of which, Amrozi the Village Idiot gets sentenced today. I noted Jake Ryan is in Denpesar for the verdict and sentencing. I only hope he took the Jake Ryan Beer Fund with him and spends the lot at the new Paddy's Bar. Think of the benefits. The aussie dollar probably buys a lot more beer in Bali than it does in Brisbane. It injects money into the Bali tourist industry. And it pisses off Alison Broinowski.

Posted by: steve at August 7, 2003 at 10:25 AM

Well, the fellow-traveling Islamo-fascists thought it was really cool to American, Israelis, Indians and other infidels murdered, but it's not so cool to see you Muslims neighbors slaughtered in the name of Allah. The respective governments don't care to see taxpayers bumped off for the ol' Moon god either.

Posted by: Jabba the Nutt at August 7, 2003 at 10:40 AM

Good post Tim. You touch on a point I've thought about the islamo-fascists - their tactics are all screwed up. Even if you agreed with their goal (and I don't) I don't think they're going about it the right way.

By using violence without public support they are alienating people and only inviting more retaliation. Do they really expect their opposition (the US etc) to just pack up their bags and stop their current policies because the terrs use violence?

Of course, the same applies in reverse. :) Except that, at least I agree with the goals of the west (that is, stop islamo-fascism).

Posted by: 24601 at August 7, 2003 at 12:11 PM

I could have understood it more if they had tried to blow up a Holiday Inn- their service is terrible.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 7, 2003 at 01:58 PM

I know, the valet parking sucks.

Posted by: pooh at August 7, 2003 at 02:08 PM

All this deep thought (not mine of course) has made my brain hurt. I'm going to have a beer. I hope they didn't destroy too much Bintang.

While the attacks are terrible, each time one occurs it opens another window into their organisation so they becoem more vulnerable to attack. You gotta get something positive out of this.

Posted by: Razor at August 7, 2003 at 02:19 PM


The Qurannic quotes re compulsion are:
[2:256] There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way.
Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never
breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
Here the Quran emplys the same principal espoused in the Bible -- God will get 'em if they don't join.
[18:29] Proclaim: "This is the truth from your Lord," then whoever wills let him believe, and whoever wills let him disbelieve. We have prepared for the transgressors a fire that will completely surround them. When they scream for help, they will be given a liquid like concentrated acid that scalds the faces. What a miserable drink! What a miserable destiny!

. . . and the Sura about tolerance (or at least acceptance of other religions) is:
[109:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
[109:1] Say, "O you disbelievers.
[109:2] "I do not worship what you worship.
[109:3] "Nor do you worship what I worship.
[109:4] "Nor will I ever worship what you worship.
[109:5] "Nor will you ever worship what I worship.
[109:6] "To you is your religion, and to me is my religion."

The difference between Germany in the 1930s and Islam today, is that Islam covers to many and varied nationalities. It is the Arab-based versions which foster the type of terrorism employed by JI. In fact, most fervent Arab believers consider the whole population of Indonesia to be bound for hell. A more accurate parallel between 1930s Germany in today's world would be the USA -- principally in the way a leader demonised a section of the population, and enacted new laws to restrict freedom. It's early days yet . . .

Irene A:
You're right on both counts. It is a big job, but out of 1.2 billion Muslims today, only around 130 million are Arab. The plethora of anti-fanatic websites out there is a hopeful indication that while the tide might not yet be turning, at least there is a significant force against the evil of fanaticism.

On the subject of abrogation:
This practice is as valid as elevating the Sunna and Hadith to where they are today. But there are numerour references in the Quran which state to the effect not a letter is to be changed, and those offering false teaching are to be consigned a special place in Hell at the end of the day (Kiamat). They fact that however large a segment of Muslims subscribe to this practice simply means that section is in error, whether it's 10% of 90%. It wouldn't be the first time the majority of a religion's adherrents are in error.

As for beer -- I've found a place nearby which sells Bintang, so I'm happy . . .

Posted by: John Wey at August 8, 2003 at 08:25 AM

Occasionally you get some 'deep-thinker' (usually of the sanctimonious-left variety) coming out of the woodwork and proclaiming 'What Bush/ Howard/ Blair don't get is that Osama bin Laden/Saddam Hussein/some other terrorist leader is a rational man'.
They usually go on to argue that terrorism is an 'entirely rational reaction' to 'western neo-colonialism' (or capitalism, or imperialism, or some other variety of evil).
And, to a certain extent, I agree. To a murderous terrorist (bin Laden) or a malicious and cruel dictator (Hussein) terrorism might seem an entirely rational and normal way of getting what you want. But to the rest of the civilized world - well, lets just say it's not the done thing to blow up innocent civilians.

Posted by: TimT at August 8, 2003 at 01:19 PM

The United States Intelligence Community is wagginig the dog again re justification for the War in Iraq. See the URL for documents showing blatant disregard for presidential directives causing untold misery and death and a decision by a sitting president not to seek reelection.


John McCarthy
Chairman of The Board of VERPA

Posted by: john mccarthy at August 11, 2003 at 09:34 AM