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Bali bombing: Time to forgive, but not forget

Publication Date : 12-10-2012


Today (Friday) marks the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks that rocked the resort island of Bali. The bombings on Oct. 12, 2002 at two nightclubs in the Kuta resort area killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. They were the first major terrorist attacks in the country since the 9/11 events in the United States.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former prime minister John Howard and some 800 family members of the 88 Australian victims in the 2002 bombings are among the 4,000 people expected to attend the commemoration service today at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park in Jimbaran.

While threats of terrorists attacks have been directed specifically at those foreign dignitaries, it is the responsibility of Indonesia, as the host, to ensure their safety and that the whole event goes ahead without incident.

Indonesia has taken serious measures to combat terrorism since the first Bali bombings. Those measures, including investigation and prosecution of suspects, reached the conclusion that Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), an al-Qaeda-linked regional terrorist network, was responsible for the attacks.

Three of the perpetrators of the 2002 bombings: Amrozi, Muklas and Imam Samudra, have been executed. A fourth man, Ali Imron, Amrozi’s brother, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role. Subsequent counterterrorism operations at home have managed to arrest or kill some 770 JI members, including key leaders Hambali, Azahari bin Husin and Noordin M. Top.

Simultaneous programmes to “de-radicalise” potential terrorists and tackle the root causes of terrorism are in place. Despite these successes, many others who threaten our country’s security and safety are still at large, and even more determined to groom new recruits to their networks of hatred and terror.

The killing of top al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at Abottabad, Pakistan, in May of last year has resulted in a weakening al-Qaeda and its global network, including JI. However terrorist acts have never ceased.

Smaller cells of radical groups and new, younger faces of terror have emerged, continuing the mission, but with significantly different targets. Initially attacks in Indonesia were aimed at Westerners and American symbols. Now terrorists target Indonesian “infidels” such as police, anti-terrorism squads, lawmakers and others deemed as obstacles to transforming the country into an Islamic state governed by Sharia law.

This year’s commemoration — the largest in the past 10 years — should be a reminder that terrorism remains a real threat to our nation. This year will be the last officially organised occasion of its kind but that is not an excuse to forget the tragedy ever struck our country.

It is true that as a nation we have to move on and must not be trapped by the terrible acts of the past. American psychiatrist Thomas Stephen Szasz said, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”

We should thus not forget those past events, particularly terrible ones, as they remind us not to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

The fight against terror in Indonesia must not stop despite the termination of the bombings commemoration because terrorism will not stop, and may strike in any form and at any time.


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