17 July 2009
Jakarta -- The Bombing Season Returns
The news that the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton were bombed this morning at about 07.45 Western Indonesian Time was not surprising. The idea that Indonesia was free from the prospect of terrorist activity was naive at best and negligent at worst.
My condolences go out to all of those that have lost loved ones or had loved ones injured in the blasts.
The fact that there are several high profile terror suspects still at large and suspected of being in Indonesia must be enough to ensure that security is taken seriously. In many respects, this morning's tragedy was as much to do with it "being a matter of time" and complacency than it was to good planning by a group of terrorists.
I lived in Indonesia for many, many years and have only recently returned home to Australia. I returned home with my family, this was not because of any fear of terrorist bombings, although now that we have returned to Australia, it seems like it was a wise choice. I still feel Indonesia is generally a safe place to live and we would return in a heartbeat for the right opportunity.
I have been to the Marriott on many occasions and have always found the security presence extreme. It is always an interesting sight and experience seeing young men with high-powered weapons screening visitors. That said, the screening of vehicles although giving the appearance of being strict is quite often not what it seems.
Generally, the checks are cursory and sometimes leave a lot to be desired. I have always wondered if those checking vehicles had actually been properly trained in what to look for. Nevertheless, it is these types of checks that gave rise to the complacency that Indonesia was over the terrorist hump and on the homeward stretch to ever-lasting peace, security, and prosperity.
Nevertheless, back end security is not what might be expected.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, time will tell in terms of where responsibility for this horror will fall. It is unlikely that this is Jemaah Islamiyya for a number of reasons, but paramount among these is that JI is unlikely to have maintained the organizational capability in the period after 2002 and the post Bali bombing. However, this should not rule out a splinter group with some kind of loose affiliation with JI.
In any event, I guess these blasts go to show that Australia's travel advisory warnings were on the money with respect to possible terrorist attacks. (I would add here that if you maintain the tone of the travel advisory and keep it in place for long enough that ultimately the odds of being right would shorten to the point where you actually are right at some point in time.)
It was interesting to hear an interview with Kerry Collison earlier today in which he suggested that the bombings had all the hallmarks of an Indonesian military operation. The implications of military involvement is something that one does not really want to consider as this does not bode well for political stability in Indonesia over the long term.
The time is now for Indonesians to stand up with a united front and say that "enough is enough". It does not matter whether you are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Animist, or whatever, no sane person can justify the killing of innocents. The simple reality here is that there is absolutely, let me repeat - absolutely, no chance of winning the hearts and minds of people by killing them. When will these terrorists understand that killing your own is just not going to get you the sympathy that you might feel the masses owe you. Stupid!
While Indonesians take a stand against terror in their own land, those of us who can must support our Indonesian brothers and sisters in whatever capacity that we can no matter where we live. I will do whatever it is that I can to help.
Violence is never the answer!
For any how have taken umbrage at some of the content of this post or the point and purpose of travel warnings or the like, irrespective of whether you leave a comment or not, I offer no apologies as it is a blog and these are my opinions and "out loud" thoughts on this issue.
I love Indonesia and her people dearly. The country has been an integral part of my development as a person, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I will always feel I have received more than I have given (although there are probably plenty of Indonesians who might disagree) but I will continue to give until my days end.
The point about terrorism is not what religion the perpetrators follow and I do not talk about Muslim or Christian terrorists, just terrorists, those individuals that would seek to disrupt the peaceful existence that the majority of us try and find in our comparatively short time in this world. The point is that there are those who will go to any length to kill and maim the innocents in pursuit of a cause and despite the in-roads Indonesia has made in getting on top of terrorism and some notable successes this has led to a degree of complacency and the idea of it being "only a matter of time".
I saw it and I was fearful of it in the sense that I truly believed it was only a matter of time.
Those that hate exist in all societies and they will always at some point in time make their presence known. Friday, 17 July 2009, was one of those days in Jakarta.