RE: The terrorism meme

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri 15 Nov 2002 - 21:21:29 GMT

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    Here is your well thought out act of terrorism with purposeful intent:

    In the shadow of terror

    All are victims of the Bali massacre

    Leader Monday October 14, 2002 The Guardian

    This was a crime against all humanity. Its victims were Muslims, Hindus and Christians. They included Australians, Britons, other Europeans, Americans, Indonesians and south-east Asians of many, so far uncounted nationalities. They were of all ages but for the most part young, partying inside the Sari nightclub on Bali. They were all different. But what they shared transcended the particulars of colour, language and belief. All were innocent of any offence, oblivious to any threat. All were unsuspecting of fell conspiracy, all unprotected and at their ease. And the toll comprises not just those who died or were terribly injured, over 500 in all. It also includes perhaps hundreds more who were there and escaped immediate harm but whose lives were shattered by a moment of horror, whose consciousness will be forever scarred, whose dreams henceforth may always be troubled. And in truth the shock and trauma of what happened on Saturday night in Bali will spread ever outwards, like tremors from an earthquake's epicentre. It will touch eventually every corner of an inter-dependent and mutually vulnerable world. Such inhumanity makes victims of us all. The casualties of Bali could, and did, come from anywhere and everywhere. And this gruesome attack upon them came out of nowhere, out of a balmy, insouciant night, without any prior warning, without compunction and without mercy. That it was a carefully planned assault seems clear. That a smaller bomb, detonated moments before outside another nearby disco, and a third device that exploded close to a US consular office, formed a trap designed to maximise the carnage and intensify the sudden, enveloping sense of utter terror also seems evident. That a "soft" target was deliberately chosen to minimise the risk to the perpetrators only serves to emphasise the base and cowardly nature of the act.

    It was, whichever way it is looked at, an inhuman deed by people who, whatever their convictions and motives, demonstrated a lack of common feeling that places them beyond the pale of any concept of society. Yet simply to dub this Islamic terror and to bewail some sort of global confrontation between Islam and the west is to fall into the extremists' wider trap. These skulking murderers besmirch and dishonour the religion for which they claim to fight. They know nothing of Islam's true path. But they are hardly unique. There have through history always been individuals prepared cynically to exploit belief and to sacrifice others for their own twisted ends. And the way to defeat them, as all history shows, is not blindly to demonise whole peoples or faiths but rather to isolate and disarm those small minorities who betray them while simultaneously addressing the roots of their dispossession, ignorance and anger.

    The linear connection of Bali to the fundamentalist killers behind September 11 does indeed appear all but certain. That al-Qaida, or groups affiliated to it, or supportive of it, carried out this latest outrage is a conclusion that, even without firm evidence, seems inescapable. That there has so far been no admission of culpability is merely another, typical sign of al-Qaida's hand. There have been indications in recent months that the group was building up its strength in south-east Asia and especially in Indonesia amid hardline domestic agitation over President Megawati Sukarnoputri's support for US anti-terror policies. Malaysia earlier expressed its concern. Singapore arrested several alleged operatives last winter. In the southern Philippines, despite US military intervention, the al-Qaida sympathisers of Abu Sayyaf remain unvanquished. Last month, fearing new attacks, particularly by car or truck bombs, the US temporarily closed its regional embassies. Last week it issued a worldwide alert.

    None of this should be taken to imply that somehow Bali could have been specifically foreseen or prevented. But it does surely demonstrate that the threat directly represented and symbolised by al-Qaida remains undiminished, despite all efforts at elimination, and is perhaps increasing. The main difference now may be that the organisation has decentralised its operations since its expulsion from Afghanistan and that small cells or even lone individuals are now tasked with carrying out "freelance" assaults wherever and whenever they can.

    The broader pattern into which this may fit includes such recent incidents as the gun attack on US marines in Kuwait, the ramming of a French oil tanker off Yemen, the attempted assassination of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in Kandahar, numerous outrages in Pakistan, the killing of German tourists in Tunisia and several other plots, executed or planned, extending across much of the globe. Looked at in this uncomfortable context, the trumpeted success of the US-led anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan now seems ever more vacuous. The problem has simply been displaced and dispersed. Nearly a year after Osama bin Laden and his henchmen disappeared into the Tora Bora mountains, it is plain that their malign cause has far from disappeared and is far from defeated.

    Two imperatives arise in the face of this ramifying, many-headed menace: that all that possibly can be done is done, collectively, to defeat the terrorists; and that nothing is undertaken that may aid or assist their campaign. In these key respects, there is an obvious danger that the current US focus on Iraq is counter-productive on both counts. A war in Iraq will do nothing to prevent further massacres of the type witnessed at the weekend. Even the Bush administration will find it a stretch to blame Bali on Saddam Hussein. More worryingly still, by inflaming opinion in the Muslim world and beyond, war may disrupt anti-terror efforts, weaken or destroy the international coalition and act as a persuasive recruiting sergeant for al-Qaida, raising the prospect of yet more murders of innocents. If Bali tells us anything, it is that the defeat of stateless, international terrorism is the most pressing security issue of the day. It is far too important to be misdirected or diverted for dubious, divisive reasons by one country against another. Defeating terrorism must be the shared work of all humankind - for all humankind is its prey. Our common humanity demands that it be so.

    * * *

    I'm sure you've heard Bin Laden's recent telephone message praising the act as a heroic effort for the cause. Having thought it over, my opinion was and is: their actions are mindless, senseless and serve no rational purpose.


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