New Bali Arrest Shows Way to Go in Terror Fight
By Novar Caine
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries on Earth. Billions have been poured in by Western powers since the 2001 hijacked-airplane attacks in the United States blamed on Al-Qaeda, yet for all the attempts to quell Islamic militancy the country remains productive ground for Western-hating terrorists.
Confirmation on Wednesday from Pakistani security officials that an Indonesian man who allegedly masterminded the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali that killed 202 people had been arrested in the country appears to be further proof that radical cells around the world have central links to Pakistan.
Indonesian officials were en route to Pakistan late this week as Umar Patek was being interrogated to determine what he’s been up to, and with whom. Officials from both countries want to know what ties the alleged Bali operative has to terrorist organisations in Pakistan.
It has been surmised for years by Western intelligence agencies that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is hiding out somewhere along the rocky Pakistani-Afghan border, so it’s no surprise that the militant-minded are attracted to elements in that area, especially for such a zealot as Patek, who has called himself the “Osama of Southeast Asia.”
What’s evident is that the militants’ fury has not dimmed, but the dragnet is tightening. Speaking in Bali, where he was attending a people-smuggling summit, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the Indonesian’s arrest marked a victory in the global fight against terrorism. “…it is our view that Patek’s arrest is potentially a major step forward in the fight against terrorism. His arrest might offer some small comfort to the nearly 100 Australian families who lost loved ones in the Bali bombings way back in 2002. Of course, his arrest does not bring anyone back.”
The Americans were similarly pleased. They hold an alleged Indonesian terrorist, Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, at Guantánamo Bay. He’s suspected of running the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group that has cells in the southern Philippines and parts of Indonesia and was the apparent driver of the Bali blasts. Meanwhile, the exiled Patek, a master bomb-maker, is believed to have slipped into Indonesia last year and helped establish a terrorist offshoot in Aceh with local militants.
This catastrophic cat-and-mouse game is far from over. Watching arrest developments from behind bars, the supposed spiritual leader of all this mayhem, Abu Bakar Bashir, will not be amused. He’s on trial in Jakarta again on terrorism-related charges. He says it’s all a whitewash, that he has no links to terrorist activities and that the CIA is behind bombings in Indonesia. No one outside his fervent followers is swallowing that line.
It is people like Bashir – however innocent they may be, although that would appear to be a long stretch – who engender support for hardline causes. You only have to visit his Islamic boarding school in Central Java to get an idea of the hatred of Westerners, with fighting slogans written on walls and emerging from the rote-students’ mouths. Such questionable institutes of learning are also to be found in Pakistan. There’s little doubt they are breeding generations of warriors for a battle that has negligible public support and usurps a great world religion. They are not fighting perceived injustices in God’s name; they are fighting in their own.
As long as battling automatons are being churned out, the terror fight will continue. These mujahideen-puppets are having their strings pulled by elders who all too often have personal agendas in the fashion of Bin Baden.
What can the governments of Pakistan and Indonesia do, and others similarly affected by terrorism that has homegrown roots? They can work with mainstream Muslim organisations in their countries – Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama in Indonesia; between them they have almost 60 million members – and revise the system of education at Islamic boarding schools, and ensure a monitoring system is devised so that hate has no place in speech or thought.
The brainwashing must end. When it does, the killing will, too.
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