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SLUG: 3-383 Alan Dupont/Bali Blastn Security










INTRO: Authorities in Indonesia and regional governments have condemned the Bali bombing as an act of terrorism -- although it is not yet clear what group may be responsible. Suspicion is falling on several regional militant groups that have suspected ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network. V-O-A's Katherine Maria spoke about the possibilities with Alan Dupont -- the director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at Australia's National University in Canberra.

KM: A blast of this size would need quite a lot of explosives. A group would almost have to have to be quite well connected to get their hands on these explosives.

AD: Well it's true that is a very substantial explosion given the size of the crate and the number of casualties. That sort of explosive material would not be easily obtained. On the other hand, there is a history in Indonesia of groups obtaining explosive devices and sometimes elements of the Indonesian armed forces themselves have been incriminated in these activities. My guess is that the groups may have been able to obtain this sort of explosive material from inside Indonesia, rather than actually bring it in from outside.

KM: There's been speculation that this is the work of Jemaah Islamiah, that has terrorist connections to al-Qaida. What is your feeling on this?

AD: Who actually perpetrated this no body knows at this stage. But certainly Jemaah Islamiah would be a prime candidate, which is already known to be associated with al-Qaida. The problem with this is that there are all kinds of new labels - sort of appearing on a fairly regular basis. It is not always clear who these groups are and who they represent. Jemaah Islamiah, for example, no one had actually heard of it 18 months ago. So I think the names of the groups are less important than the affiliations that they have. What you have to remember is that Indonesia has a very long history of militant extremist activities by fringe groups going right back to the fifties. And there are homegrown roots to this kind of militancy not just perpetrated by groups outside the country.

KM: Certainly Indonesia has seen a lot of domestic violence in the past, but Bali has been spared from it except from in the sixties. Is this sort of surprising a hit on Bali?

AD: I don't think it is. I think it is very consistent with the kind of strategy that terrorist groups have been carrying out over the last several years. The first point I'd make is that al-Qaida has made a point of actually attacking civilians directly so that's consistent with that kind of type of activity. Secondly if you're are going to target Western interests, the tourist industry where you have large aggregations of Westerners is an obvious target. Bali would be quite a soft target. It would be a lot easier to perpetrate an attack like this in a night club rather than say a harder target such as the American Embassy in Jakarta which is pretty well defended. That's all consistent with the modus operandi of al-Qaida and some of it's associated groups. I guess the point that I would make is that this attack in Bali should not be seen in isolation we have to remember that there's been a number of recent incidents in other places around the world, most notably in Finland and also against then French oil tanker only last week. So it suggests to me that al-Qaida have been orchestrating this and this is sending a very clear message to Western governments that they are withstanding the successes against al-Qaida in Afghanistan, that they can still function and target Western interests and they are going to continue to do so. And that's the way I would actually see attack in Bali.

KM: Thank You very much, Alan for your time.


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