The Bali Bombing

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Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Bali Bombing
October 12, 2002 would become a decisive turning point for foreign and domestic politics in Indonesia. On that day, the lives of over two hundred and two people were claimed after three bombs were denoted simultaneously in Bali and one in Sulawesi. This act of violence was to become the most devastating act of terrorism on Indonesian soil. The Bali bombing can be viewed as the most devastating act of terrorism not only because the bombing was the first attack against the country, but also because the attack itself can be viewed within the typical framework of the ~{!.~}revolt against the West~{!/~} as Bellamy (2005) has argued.

The argument put forth above is not meant to downplay the effects of Islamic Radicalism within Southeast Asia. Islamic Radicalism is not, as Desker suggests in Contemporary Southeast Asia Journal, a ~{!0~}sudden~{!1~} or ~{!0~}recent~{!1~} phenomenon (Desker, 489). Indonesia is, of course, the world~{!/~}s largest Muslim country and has been ravaged by conflicts since the fall of the authoritarian New Order in May 1998 (, 437). However, although there is certainly a broader and longer-term historical context in which to properly assess terrorism within the region (Bellamy, 237), the Bali bombing also reminds society that the exercise of violence, most notably by non-state actors, can drastically destabilize relations within the country and outside of it. The Bali bombing itself was just a means to unfold other venues of terrorism -such as fear and other psychological effects, questionable policies enacted by the state, and other negative consequences - within Indonesia.

There is a plethora of evidence to suggest that the Bali bombing can indeed be viewed within the framework of a revolt against the West. Indeed, although the Indonesian government was initially reluctant to assist the United States in its campaign against terrorism -- which is clearly evidenced in the fact that the Indonesian government froze the assets of terrorist suspects only when the U.S. threatened economic, sanctions (Cotton, 143) -- there was pressure eventually, and with good reason. Intelligence agencies had established that there was evidence of Al Qaeda training camps in Sulawesi. However, in addition, there was evidence that funding was coming through for the fundamentalist organization known as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a group that is committed to the creation of a pan-Islamic state within the archipelago (Cotton, 141). As continual pressure to act came from all sides -- namely, the United States and Australia -- it was time for the Indonesia government to act against the growing threat of terrorism within the country and they were forced to choose a side. They sided with the West.

No more of action illustrates the Indonesian government~{!/~}s position than Megawati Sukarnoputri~{!/~}s discussions with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, which resulted in memorandum of understanding on terrorism (Cotton, 142). Cotton claims that this memorandum ~{!0~}related specifically to intelligence sharing and cooperative efforts on international manifestations of terrorism~{!1~}, but to outsiders, the memorandum and the meeting represented far more than merely a mutual understanding of terrorism. To organizations such as Al Qaeda, the meeting and the resulting agreement between the two countries was an alliance of sorts; specifically of ~{!0~}us~{!1~} (e.g. the West) versus ~{!0~}them~{!1~} (e.g. the Islamic Radicalisms). Howard himself noted what kind of message the meeting sent when he noted, ~{!0~}That [ the memorandum of understanding] will send a very strong signal that Indonesia and Australia are serious about this challenge~{!1~} [of terrorism] (~{!0~}Jakarta, Canberra to Forge Terror Pact~{!1~}, p. 1).

The above, then, suggests that while the historical development of Islamic Radicalism within Southeast Asia is important to understanding the Bali bombing,...
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