----- Original Message -----
From: "earthman" <firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Saturday, October 19, 2002 5:17 PM
Subject: [synchronistic] The lost warning
The lost warning
US intelligence warned its citizens to stay away from bars like the Sari
Club just hours before it was torn apart by a terrorist bomb. Political
Reporter SAMANTHA MAIDEN asks why Australians weren't given a similar
THE "Worldwide Caution Alert" posted a day before the Bali blast, and
warning of terrorist attacks targeting westerners at clubs and
is chilling in retrospect.
Based on recent audio tape of Osama bin Laden and other intelligence
of threats to US interests, it warned terrorists may turn to `soft
including "nightclubs, bars and other places where expatriates gather".
And there, on the US Department of State website and the website for the
Embassy in Indonesia, it sat for more than 24 hours. Australians were
oblivious to it as the hours ticked away to the horrific bomb attack on
Who among the victims would have thought to check a US government website,
or even take the advice as relevant to Bali, a Hindu stronghold in the
predominantly Muslim archipelago, regarded as a world away from the
found in other parts of Indonesia?
On September 9, also unknown to those Australians planning their Bali
holidays, there had been another warning. Osama bin Laden's top envoy in
South-East Asia, who cracked after three months of interrogation, told the
CIA he had been ordered to plan large-scale attacks against US interests
the region. A dossier based on the CIA interrogation of alleged al Qaeda
terrorist Omar Al-Faruq, revealed a week later, warned of a "new terror
spree in South-East Asia".
Jemaah Islamiyah's spiritual leader, Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, had
"authorised Al-Faruq to use JI operatives and resources" and despite his
arrest, back-up operations were in place to "assume the responsibilities
carry out operations as planned".
His confession prompted the US terror advisory system to move up to
for the first time. Marking the September 11 anniversary with car bombs at
embassies was the known plan, however, and the date passed without
Omar Al-Faruq remains under guard in the Guantanamo Bay jail shared by
alleged Adelaide al Qaeda operative David Hicks.
The US Department of State was quick to point out this week they had "no
specific information of a planned bombing in Bali". But amid the grief, a
question remains: Did authorities do enough to warn tourists of the
Should Australia's Foreign Affairs department have upgraded its own
warnings, as the US Department of State did twice in the weeks before the
Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and
Attorney-General Daryl Williams face mounting public concern that official
warnings, which at the time would undoubtedly have been attacked by
operators as scaremongering, were simply not strong enough.
DEFENCE Minister Robert Hill has revealed Australia's intelligence
Inspector General Bill Blick, has a wide-ranging brief to review all
material available before the Bali attacks.
Bali was not mentioned in the US official warnings, but Mr Howard
to Parliament on Wednesday that one intelligence report passed on to
Australia had identified the holiday island, among other locations in the
Under pressure, the Government yesterday revealed the warning referred to
the arrest of Muslim leaders. Those arrests, which a foreign intelligence
agency warned could increase the risk of terrorist activity and unrest in
Bali, never occurred. According to Mr Howard, "this intelligence was
assessed by agencies and the view was formed by them that no alteration in
the threat level - then at high - applying to Indonesia was warranted".
Australia's Foreign Affairs website upgraded its travel bulletins last
Friday, warning of general threats to US interests at home and overseas.
However, Bali was not even mentioned among warnings against travel to
traditional hot spots for danger: West Timor, Aceh and Maluku. Tourist
services, it assured any holidaymakers who knew where to look, were
operating as normal.
In Jakarta, the Australian Embassy on October 3 issued a warning to
Australians to remain on alert - without mentioning Bali.
"As in the past around religious holidays, militant groups may conduct
increased activity against nightclubs, bars, and other places where
expatriates gather," it said. "Australians are advised to take particular
care in this period prior to holidays and during Ramadan."
On September 26, the US had updated its travel advisory warning Westerners
to "avoid large gatherings and locations known to cater primarily to
clientele, such as certain bars, restaurants and tourist areas."
"The judgment was made by the Department of Foreign Affairs that the
advice, given that it warned of the possibility of bombings, particularly
areas frequented by tourists, that there was no need therefore to change
travel advice to Australians," Mr Howard said yesterday.
Instead, Australians awoke on Saturday to warnings power plants or nuclear
facilities could be targeted on home soil by terrorists, following
from the US.
Attorney-General Daryl Williams announced just after 10pm on Friday that
authorities had passed on concerns of a specific threat to "energy
Yesterday, the Government responded to a new threat in Indonesia, warning
travellers to get out and upgrading South-East Asian travel warnings.