Monday, October 03, 2005

Foreknowledge of the Bali Terror Bombings? - According to Indonesian & Australian reports


October 2, 2005


Queensland's Premier Peter Beattie couldn't resist a joke. He leaned towards the microphone and said:

"We might announce a coup. Men and women of Australia...".
(Canberra Summit Press Conference, 27 September 2005).


The October 1st Bali bombing occurred a few days after a special meeting of The Council of Australian Governments in Canberra, during which the State premiers agreed to the adoption of far-reaching antiterrorist measures. The day following the Canberra Summit, the Australian media warned, based on reliable sources, that a terrorist attack was looming.

Two distinct sources, Indonesia late August and Australia, late September, point to an "imminent" terror attack.

1. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warns that terrorist attacks "may happen in September or October"

In late August, the President of Indonesia warned in no uncertain terms that JI was preparing an attack:

"According to an AP report of 29 August; President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono "had ordered increased surveillance. 'We know the terrorists cells are still active, they are still hiding, recruiting, networking, trying to find new funding and even planning ... for another strike,' he said. 'Last night, I instructed the security minister, the head of the intelligence agency and the police chief to conduct more active operations into the detection and prevention (of the) act of terrorism that may happen this year ... in the months of September and October.'" (ABC Australia 29 August 2005, italics added)

A related report published by the Indonesian newspaper Banjarmasin Post's website on 2 September refers explicitly to Jemaah Islamiyah's "Moneyman" Noordin Mohamed Top, prime suspect in the October 1 Bali bomb attack:

"Noordin M. Top, the fugitive for several bombings in Indonesia has apparently been staying at the home of one of his associates in Yogyakarta. Moh Ridwan, the Head of Wonogiri village, Jatirejo, Yogyakarta, told the press this on Thursday (1 September).

According to him, around the end of July 2005, Noordin arrived at the home of his friend, Joko Tri Hermanto, to take part in Shalat Isya [evening prayers]. Recently Joko was arrested by members of the Police Headquarters Detachment 88 Anti-Terrorist Unit. During the arrest officials found ten kilograms of TNT 500 rounds of 38 calibre ammunition. During questioning Joko Tri admitted that Noordin had stayed at his home....

Ridwan said that Noordin and Dr Azahari were the Police Headquarters' number one fugitives, but they were not in the house when it was raided. [passage omitted]

Separately, intelligence expert Dynno Chressbon, viewed that there were indications that there would be another bigger terrorist act. Besides finding something looking like a bomb [in a hotel in Kuta, Bali, on 31 August], around ten days ago, one of the Al-Qa'idah spokesmen, who made the statement on the Al-Jazeera TV station warning of the attack on the WTC [World Trade Centre], said that Al-Qa'idah would carry out an attack on one of the tourist cities in the Asia region.

"I predict that this will possibly be in Thailand and in Indonesia, namely Bali. Therefore, if 10 kg of TNT were found in Yogyakarta, it could be to supply something in Bali, Ambon and other areas."(Banjarmasin Post website, in Indonesian, 2 September 2005, translation BBC Monitoring, italics added))

2. Australian Media: "Terror Attack Looming"

Three days before the Bali bombings of October 1st, the Australian press published several reports pointing to an imminent terrorist. These reports were based on statements of the Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Mr. Aldo Borgu:

"the Indonesia-based terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah could try to carry out another major attack soon and Australians could again be its target, an advisory group has warned."

Australian Strategic Policy Institute terrorism specialist Aldo Borgu said JI had tried to carry out a major attack every 12 months and another could be due soon.

The organization was behind the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002, the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003 and the 2004 Australian embassy bombing.

Mr. Borgu said that despite the damage JI had suffered it was still capable of carrying out annual attacks.

"There is still a possibility that one might be in the offing some time soon," he said.

The institute's view contradicts that of former foreign minister Gareth Evans, who now heads the International Crisis Group. Mr. Evans said this week that JI had been smashed and no longer posed a serious threat. (Terror attack looming: alert, The Age (Australia), 29 September 2005 italics added))

Mr. Aldo Borgu has close links to Australia's intelligence and Homeland Security community. He was previously senior adviser in the Australian Ministry of Defense and strategic analyst for Australia's Defense Intelligence Organisation (DIO) Reproduced at the foot of this article is the transcript of the Australian ABC TV interview with Mr. Aldo Borgu

The Canberra Counter-Terrorism Summit

The October 1st Bali bombing occurred barely a few days after the holding of a special meeting of The Council of Australian Governments in Canberra, during which the State premiers agreed to the adoption of far-reaching antiterrorist measures.

Leader of the federal opposition Labor Party, Kim Beazley, made his pitch on Sunday, suggesting that state police should be given the power to lock down entire suburbs if they suspect or fear a terrorist act.

The federal attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, has been dismissive of the plan. The president of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties, Terry O'Gorman, is alarmed, saying federal, state and territory leaders appear to be attempting to outbid each other. He says he is worried basic human rights will be abandoned. "In essence they're getting out there thumping their chests and say look at us, look what we're proposing," he said.

But premier of the state of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, says the alarm is misplaced. "I believe it is possible for us to be tough on terror and at the same time protect people's rights." he said. All five premiers say they are confident of a good outcome at Sunday's meeting. (ABC Radio Report, 26 September 2005)

On the 27th of September, at the conclusion of the Summit, Howard secured the unanimous agreement of all six premiers and two chief ministers "to the biggest changes to Australia's counter-terrorism regime since 2001":

Although state and territory leaders at the Council of Australian Government meeting won several concessions from the Prime Minister -- notably the 10-year sunset clause on new legislation including police powers authorizing preventative detention for up to 14 days -- in the end Howard achieved everything of substance he wanted.

"The laws that we have agreed to today are in fact draconian laws but they are necessary laws to protect Australians," admitted Queensland Premier Peter Beattie after the states signed up. "If it wasn't for the threat of terrorism, we would never agree to such laws as we have here." (The Weekend Australia, 1 Oct 2005)

"The deal was reached after Prime Minister John Howard agreed to a 10-year sunset clause and a review of the legislation after five years. The laws includes allowing police to hold terrorism suspects for up to 14 days and broad stop, search and question powers. There will also be greater use of security cameras and Australians could be fined if they leave their baggage unattended at airports. After the meeting, Mr. Howard said they are unusual laws for unusual times.

"If we weren't living in a terrorist environment none of us would be here," he said.

"They're not the sort of things any of us, whether we are liberal or labor, would want to be proposing in an environment where we didn't face this shadowy elusive and lethal enemy." (ABC Asia Pacific Report, 28 Sept 2005)

The significance of the Canberra summit was reviewed in an incisive article by Michael Head, published in late August by the World Socialist Web Site, shortly after the announcement by Prime Minister Howard of the holding of the Canberra Summit:

Over the past five years, the Howard government has, with Labor’s parliamentary and political support, already used the “war on terror” as a pretext to introduce a barrage of laws, each granting unprecedented powers to the federal government and its security agencies.

“Terrorism” has been made punishable by life imprisonment and defined so widely that it covers many traditional forms of political dissent. Cabinet has been given the power to outlaw organisations that it labels terrorist. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has been authorised to secretly detain and interrogate people without trial, even if they are not suspected of links to terrorism. Terrorist trials can be held behind closed doors. The military can be called-out to combat “domestic violence,” that is, civil unrest.

Now further inroads into democratic rights are being prepared. Howard has nominated new items for the summit agenda: counter-terrorism legal frameworks, preventing advocacy of terrorism, surface transport security, identity security and “enhancing community understanding of and engagement in the national counter-terrorism arrangements”.

Under the heading of “legal frameworks,” Howard and his Attorney-General Philip Ruddock have foreshadowed an array of moves. These include extending to possibly three months the time that anyone can be detained for interrogation by ASIO. Such detentions are currently limited to one week, with ASIO able to apply for extensions. Those detained are prohibited from notifying anyone, except for a lawyer. If the detention period were extended, it would mean that people could disappear into ASIO’s custody for up to three months without trace.

Ruddock has also ordered a review of his powers to ban organisations as “terrorist.” This follows an ASIO recommendation that he did not have grounds to outlaw Hizb ut-Tahrir, a fundamentalist group that advocates the non-violent establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, throughout the Middle East. The proscription power is currently limited to organisations that the attorney-general is “satisfied on reasonable grounds” are “directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act (whether or not the terrorist act has occurred or will occur)”. (Michael Head, wsws.org, 27 August 2005).

In an interview on Oct 2nd, Prime Minister Howard suggested that:

"there is still the risk of a domestic attack in this country and we have to prepare for it and we have to understand, based on the London experience that you can have an attack from within in the most unsuspecting of circumstances"

The October 1st Bali bombings have served to dispel the concerns by human rights organizations regarding the ongoing repeal of the Rule of Law in Australia. While the new counter-terrorism legislation is yet to be formally enacted, it is supported by both the government and the opposition Labor party.



Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), He is the author of a America's "War on Terrorism", Global Research, September 2005.

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