Confronting terror

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 17, 2002

The moral thugs have struck again, this time in Bali, and the lesson now much reiterated is that you cannot back off from terrorists or pretend they are not there and suppose they will then go away.

Laxity is an invitation for them to murder the innocent, and those who promote such laxity must confront their own culpability when bodies are mangled and screams pierce the air.

In Indonesia, the government has lately been lax, behaving as if Islamic militants are not an issue of grave concern. The car bombing of a nightclub and the consequent deaths of almost 200 people seem to have persuaded the government it must enter the anti-terrorism fight with determination.

A place to start is getting tough on Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-type organization that has been strutting about and associating with worldwide terrorists without much interference.

The United States has provided financial aid for the cause, and may provide training, but must be careful not to encourage Indonesia to return to the tyranny of the past.

Indonesia can be effective in this contest with haters short of that, and it can be effective even though the recent style of terrorism around the world has been on a scale that is harder to prevent than more complicated, expensive assaults.

According to various reports of intelligence assessments, it seems to be the case that the U.S. attack on al-Qaida has made it extremely difficult for the organization to plot something on the order of the Sept. 11 violence, which took many months of preparation, international communication and considerable funding.

But while a series of smaller attacks around the world have taken lives, it is also the case that governments have been able to hinder a number of planned attacks.

Terrorism can be defeated. What is required is that nations see that they cannot hide from it. Like the United States, they must confront it.

Oct. 16, 2002

Birmingham Post-Herald