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.
ANNEX: News Reports
Report says JI continues to be a significant threat
ABC Net. Australian TV,
The World Today – Wednesday, 28 September , 2005 12:14:00 Reporter: Tanya Nolan
TANYA NOLAN: It was only last year that the Federal Government, in its White Paper on Terrorism, identified Jemaah Islamiyah as the principal terrorist threat to Australia.Former foreign minister Gareth Evans was yesterday declaring that JI was all but dead. But a new report out today says that as the largest and most coordinated terrorist group in South East Asia, JI continues to be a significant threat, and regards Australians as legitimate targets.
And the report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, “Local Jihad: Radical Islam and Terrorism in Indonesia”, concludes that Australia lacks a coherent long-term strategy to combat the threat posed by Jihadist terrorism.
Aldo Borgu is co-author of the report and Program Director of Operations and Capability at the Institute, and he’s been a senior adviser to the Minister for Defence, and a strategic analyst in the Defence Intelligence Organisation.
Aldo Borgu joins me from our Canberra studios.
Aldo Borgu, thank you for your time.
Firstly, your report is very timely for a number of reasons, namely in the context of the new raft of terrorism laws that was agreed to yesterday.
Now, the Prime Minister himself acknowledges these laws are unusual. Peter Beattie calls them draconian even, but given that JI has been identified as the principal terrorist threat to both Australia and the region, will they be effective?
ALDO BORGU: Well they may well be effective. Certainly you can’t look at those sorts of laws having an effect on JI, because the primary terrorist threat that JI poses to Australia isn’t actually within Australia, it’s actually within the region.
They’ve certainly undertaken a number of attacks against Australia within Indonesia. They’ve still got aspects of their groups operating within the Philippines. So I probably wouldn’t see the domestic laws applicable to them, but obviously we’ve got to look at a much wider threat as well.
TANYA NOLAN: Should we be alarmed about impinging further on civil liberties, or more concerned about the terrorist threat?
ALDO BORGU: Well it obviously depends on your perception of the threat. You know, we’ve obviously got to be at the point where we don’t allow terrorism to define our daily lives and the way that we conduct our lives.
The bottom line is that with these new laws, I mean, they’re certainly not as draconian as say the British or the United States laws through the Patriot Act that they’ve put together, but we’ve got to bear in mind that the laws themselves will only affect a very small proportion of the Australian population.
Most Australians will live their lives without even knowing that the laws exist.
The problems that you do come up against, however, is how the security agencies actually apply those laws to the other one per cent or so of the people. And how those laws are implemented, because we could actually find that we end up feeding the threat as much as we are combating it.
TANYA NOLAN: Now there are reports today that ASIO has identified up to 800 Muslim extremists living in Australia, that would appear to sharply raise the spectre of a home grown terrorist attack, though, wouldn’t it?
ALDO BORGU: Based on that information, yes. Obviously the Government’s saying that you know, the number’s highly speculative.
It depends as well though on what your definition of an extremist is. An extremist can be a person that just basically has, you know, an extreme ideology, without necessarily wanting to conduct acts of violence.
I think one of the things that you’re probably having at the moment is that the definition of an extremist has been widened after the July 7 bombings in London.
You know, we had numbers then of 50 to 60 to 70 people that we were keeping an eye on. Obviously we’ve actually defined a wider definition of what an extremist and what a potential terrorist might be.
TANYA NOLAN: Well in your report today, you urged governments to go back one step and redefine the starting point for a counter-terrorism strategy by providing exactly that, a clear definition of what exactly we’re fighting – the tactic of terrorism or the ideology of radical Islam.
What’s the danger in not doing that?
ALDO BORGU: Well, certainly the major danger is that unless you clearly define or understand what you’re fighting you might develop the wrong strategies.
A case in point is that as part of waging an ideological conflict, a battle of ideas to stop future generations of terrorists from arising entails liaison involvement with the Muslim community.
Now, one of the ways that you can actually combat terrorists is actually through engaging with the fundamentalist aspects of the Islamic community, sort of the more extreme, but who don’t necessarily believe in violence.
However, the problem is, is if you view radical Islam as the enemy, then you’re far less likely to actually engage with those more radical elements to try to combat the actual threat of physical violence and terrorism.
TANYA NOLAN: So what do you see as the principal threat to Australia? Is it the ideology of radical Islam, or is it terrorism?
ALDO BORGU: I think we’re more concerned with the actual tactic of terrorism. If you look at a lot of the Government’s statements to date, or certainly in the past, they’ve been more concerned with the actual use of terrorism against Australia and Australian interests.
But lately you’ve been getting a few more elements in ministerial speeches and some documents that point to that we’re concerned about “extremism”, whatever that might actually be defined as, and that we’re actually following a lot of the concerns that the United States has, which is far more concerned with the ideology than with the tactic.
So that’s one of the reasons why we think the Government just needs to be clear in its own mind, let alone in terms of how it actually explains these policies to the Australian public.
TANYA NOLAN: And you argue that Australia’s involvement in the global war on terror can actually distort that clarification of what it is we’re fighting – that the war on terror might not be applicable to the primary terrorist threat, which is JI.
ALDO BORGU: Well certainly I don’t see the campaign against terrorism, against JI in Indonesia as being part of the US global war on terror, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been more successful in combating JI than say we have against combating al Qaeda more globally, precisely because the US isn’t involved.
It’s not directly involved in Indonesia, from both a perception or a reality point of view, because in some cases, as we’ve seen in Iraq, that actually ends up feeding the threat more than anything else and I think we have to give the Indonesian Government a lot more credit and patience in terms of how it’s actually been dealing with the threat, because it’s been more successful than a lot of other countries have.
TANYA NOLAN: And you say that this terrorism threat can’t be separated from the future stability of the region, and that even the fight in combating JI can’t actually be fought from Australia or by Australia.
ALDO BORGU: Certainly Australia can’t defeat JI as a group. The only country that can do that is Indonesia, and the only government that can do that is the Indonesian Government.
One of the concerns I think we have is that with a rising factionalism with JI, we may well see the group focussing more on internal instability and communal conflict within Indonesia, and in many respects that’s a greater threat to Australia’s national interests than directly attack…targeting Australian citizens and individuals?
TANYA NOLAN: Haven’t we been doing a lot though, to help Indonesia develop its intelligence and police capabilities?
ALDO BORGU: We have. Government’s sort of done a number of measures – setting up a law enforcement centre in Jakarta, a sort of jointly funded by us. We’ve done a lot of work, obviously, in the aftermath of the Bali bombings with forensics, helping them to track down, jail and convict a number of the bombers, but there’s always more that can be done.
And certainly one of the challenges is to look into the future in terms of the future types of terrorist threats, particularly given the fact that Indonesia’s likely to face a more diverse range of threats and new groups that arise over the years, particularly as JI decreases its capabilities and they’re the sorts of things that we need to do, have an evolving strategy in order to deal with an evolving threat.
TANYA NOLAN: Well one of the more controversial recommendations that you make is this idea of red teaming to be introduced into terrorism analysis, that we need analysts who start to think like terrorists so that they can challenge the assumption of the policy makers.
That would take a great deal of political courage, one would imagine?
ALDO BORGU: It would, because obviously part of the problem with dealing with terrorism is a lot of it is couched in politics and emotion. And I mean we need to deal with the threat and the issue in a hard, analytical manner.
Red teaming’s been used, certainly was used in the Cold War by the United States and other countries, where you’d get groups of analysts who were trained to think like Russians, like Soviets in terms of that they’d actually provide an enemy you could war game an exercise against, and they’d also provide input into the development of policy.
Part of the big problem that we’re facing at the moment, and you hear it time and time again from analysts, commentators and policy makers is, they can’t understand why people would blow themselves up, why they would take innocent lives like this. Well, part of the problem is we’ve got to understand them, we’ve got to make the effort.
Understanding them doesn’t mean that you sympathise with them, but if you really want to combat the threat, then understanding them is actually the first pre-condition to doing so.
TANYA NOLAN: Aldo Borgu, we could talk forever, but we’ll have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time today.
Aldo Borgu is from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and co-author of the report Local Jihad: Radical Islam and Terrorism in Indonesia.
Copyright ABC Australia 2005
Terror expert warns of JI attack
By Max Blenkin
The Courier Mail, Australia
28 Sept. 20005
THE Indonesian terror group behind the Bali bombing could be planning another attack soon, an Australian terror expert said today.
Jemaah Islamiah (JI) appeared to be undergoing a split but its hardline elements remained dangerous, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) program director Aldo Borgu said.
JI had been hard hit in the post-Bali bombing crackdown but it could still carry out terror attacks, he said.
“But, importantly, it’s still got the capability … to undertake annual attacks,” he said.
“There is still a possibility that one might be in the offing some time soon.”
The al-Qaeda-linked JI bombed two Kuta nightclubs in October 2002 killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
It was also behind the Jakarta Marriott Hotel attack in August 2003 which killed 11 people, and the Australian embassy attack in September last year which also killed 11 people.
The dates indicate an operational cycle of about 12 months.
In an ASPI report on terrorism in Indonesia, Mr Borgu and Australian National University Indonesia expert Greg Fealy noted that JI, founded in 1993, was South-East Asia’s largest and most sophisticated terror network.
But evidence was emerging of a internal split between hardline elements who favoured mass casualty attacks and the central leadership who favoured a return to the original vision of achieving an Islamic state by more gradual means.
Should JI’s non-bombers emerge on top, they would probably return to their 25- to 30-year plan for an Islamic state using preaching, education and military training to defend against attacks from infidel forces, Dr Fealy said.
“However, there is a risk here. Once you give people military training in how to make bombs and do assassinations, they may not be patient enough to wait for the realisation of your 30-year plan,” he said.
“They may want to go out and do something next month. They may well be very angry and alienated people.
“JI is becoming less of a lethal threat. The threat is now in other kinds of networks that the bombers have moved to. They are recruiting from groups who have been closely involved in the Muslim-Christian conflicts in places like Maluku and Central Sulawesi.”
Dr Fealy said this would mean more scattered terror networks.
“They (security organisations) have to be open to the possibility that people they’ve never heard of before can in a very short space of time be recruited to an operation and become the foot soldiers in a major terrorism attack,” he said.
Mr Borgu said future JI operations could have more to do with sectarian and communal conflict and that could more directly threaten Indonesian national stability.
“One of the things that has characterised JI over the last five years is that it hasn’t directly attacked the Indonesian state,” he said.
“If that does change, in some respects it could actually be a greater challenge to Australia’s interests that directly targeting individual Australian citizens.”
Copyright The Courier Mail, Australia, 2005
Australian Associated Press
September 27, 2005, Tuesday
PM Howard scores a coup
By Paul Osborne
While the premiers waited for the prime minister to arrive for a press conference after their counter- terrorism summit in Canberra, Queensland’s Peter Beattie couldn’t resist a joke.
He leaned towards the microphone and said: “We might announce a coup. Men and women of Australia…”.
But it is Prime Minister John Howard who has scored a political coup after convincing the states and territories to back his tough new anti-terrorism measures.
The only concessions Mr Howard made was allowing a review of the laws within five years and putting a 10-year use-by date on them.
After just two and a half hours, which included a security briefing by the nation’s spy chiefs, the premiers and Mr Howard emerged from the terror summit amid much back-slapping and congratulations.
There was no sign of the traditional slugfest or walkouts which often mark these gatherings.
It must have been hard to resist putting Australia’s toughest anti-terrorism powers in place after a briefing from ASIO chief Paul O’Sullivan and Office of National Assessments head Peter Varghese.
ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope who, before the summit, spoke out the strongest of any of the leaders about civil liberties concerns, was obviously convinced by details of the potential threats in Australia.
Asked how decisive the words of the two spy chiefs were, Mr Stanhope said: “They were significant … there are people of enormous concern (in Australia).”
Mr Howard has successfully marginalised federal Labor by harnessing the goodwill and support of the state ALP leaders.
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, whose personal approval and party support fell sharply in polling released today, has been painted into a corner.
To oppose such reforms in an atmosphere charged with fear over secretive cells plotting suicide bombings would be politically naive.
Mr Beazley’s options are to back the changes or outbid them, which runs its own risk, with some in the party concerned about the impact tougher laws have on civil liberties.
But even the government is not immune to a backlash.
The sight of more blue uniforms in airports, security cameras in train stations, fines for leaving bags unattended and being stopped and questioned at anti-war rallies could lead to concerns about the country turning into a police state.
But a terror attack on Australian soil could change all that.
Copyright AAP, 2005
Other relevant articles, courtesy Freedomfiles
October 1, 2005
Bombs Explode on Bali, President Calls Urgent Security Meeting
September 30, 2005
President Urges People to Maintain Law and Order
September 29, 2005
Terror Attack Looming: Alert (Jemaah Islamiah)
September 28, 2005
Terror Expert Warns of Jemaah Islamiah attack
Jemaah Islamiah: Principal terrorist threat to Australia
No evidence that a weakened JI reduces terror threat
Australia to impose Draconian Anti-Terror Laws
Indonesia Braces for Fuel Price Protests
Extensive Police Deployment In Indonesia For Protests
September 27, 2005
Indonesian Minister of Defense: Bali Doesn’t Need Special Autonomy
Indonesia says Asian Al Qaeda arm Weakened
Appalling Anti-Terrorism Laws Draw Criticism (Australia)
September 26, 2005
Concerns about human rights ahead of terrorism summit in Australia
September 21, 2005
Taking aim at Indonesian Terrorists
September 16, 2005
Indonesia: Implications for U.S. Interests
September 10, 2005
Indonesia plans to rise defense budget next year
September 09, 2005
US-Indonesian Military Relations almost back in step
September 07, 2005
Decentralization remains a delicate issue in Bali
August 30, 2005
Indonesia Warns of Terror Attack
August 29, 2005
Philippine, Indonesia Govts Warn of Possible Terrorist Attacks
Indonesia on alert for new attacks
SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, Discuss Terror Threats
US Training Southeast Asian Security Forces to Combat Terrorism
August 26, 2005
Al Qaeda targeting Australia’s region: judge
Beware Asia, Al Qaeda is out there
Asian cities in al-Qaeda sights