- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

BALI, Indonesia Indonesia's government, reeling from a bomb attack that killed 190 persons, acknowledged for the first time yesterday that al Qaeda is active on its soil, setting the stage for a crackdown on extremists.
Stocks plummeted in the capital, Jakarta, and markets sank elsewhere in Southeast Asia as tourists fled the country, already one of the region's most fragile economies.
But many Americans said they were planning to stay, contrary to State Department advice and despite warnings that U.S. interests could be the next targets.
The car bomb Saturday at a nightclub packed with foreigners on this resort island is likely to harm more than just the economy and tourism. Since the September 11 attacks, and despite U.S. pressure and the discovery of an al Qaeda-linked terror network in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, Indonesia has insisted that there is no threat of violent extremism on its soil.
The turnaround came after a Cabinet meeting in Jakarta yesterday, when Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said, "We are sure al Qaeda is here."
"The Bali bomb blast is linked to al Qaeda with the cooperation of local terrorists," he said.
President Megawati Sukarnoputri is likely to face growing demands to arrest high-profile suspects whose continued freedom has astounded law enforcement officials in other countries. Whether she can do so without provoking extremists and further attacks is an open question.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council condemned the terror bombing and urged all states to help bring the perpetrators to justice. All 15 council members voted for a resolution describing the attack as an "act of international terrorism" and a threat to international peace and security.
Security Minister Bambang Susilo Yudoyono said there were signs that terrorists were planning to attack industrial sites, including ExxonMobil Corp.'s Arun liquefied-natural-gas plant in Aceh and the Caltex refinery in Sumatra.
On Bali, there was no visible evidence of a higher security presence nor stricter controls at the airport, though police said an elite unit had been deployed.
The FBI and Australian detectives joined the hunt for the killers. Investigators from Scotland Yard were on the way, and Germany said it might send experts.
Suspicion has fallen on Jemaah Islamiyah, a group that Singapore says is based in Indonesia and linked to Osama bin Laden's terror network. But the group's leader denied involvement.
"All the allegations against me are groundless. I challenge them to prove anything," Abu Bakar Bashir said. "I suspect that the bombing was engineered by the United States and its allies to justify allegations that Indonesia is a base for terrorists."
Indonesia has refused to arrest Mr. Bashir, saying he has committed no crimes and that parliament has not passed an anti-terrorism law.
Underlying the reluctance is a fear that arresting Mr. Bashir could provoke a backlash against the nascent democracy in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, and that providing the military wider powers to deal with terrorism could herald a return of human rights abuses.
Jemaah Islamiyah is believed to have 4 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used to make the Oklahoma City truck bomb, purchased by a suspected Malaysian member who the Malaysian government says allowed two of the September 11 hijackers to use his apartment in 2000.
The U.S. Embassy ordered all nonessential staff and dependents to leave Indonesia and said other Americans in Indonesia should consider leaving. As many as 20,000 Americans are believed to be in Indonesia, although few are permanent residents. Many are employees of U.S. energy companies, which have extensive interests in the nation, which is rich in resources.
"We're now registering people for the flights out starting tomorrow," embassy spokesman Stanley Harsha said today.
Government officials said 181 persons died, although hospital workers put the total at 190. More than 300 people were injured. Hundreds of wounded Australians were flown home yesterday, but two died on the way.
Balinese officials said that only 39 positive identifications had been made including 15 Australians, eight Britons, five Singaporeans and six Indonesians.
Two Americans were killed and four injured, the U.S. State Department said. U.S. authorities have not released any names, but one of the slain Americans was identified by family members as Deborah Snodgrass. Her hometown and other details were not immediately released.

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