Tags: jakarta | terrorism | islamic

U.S. Must Learn From Jakarta Attacks

By Tawfik Hamid   |   Wednesday, 22 Jul 2009 06:18 PM

On July 19, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, was rocked by two simultaneous bomb blasts in the high profile JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, claiming nine lives and injuring more than 40. A similar third bomb blast took place at a road, killing two.

The United States must learn several lessons from these attacks.

Lesson 1: It is vital to deal with terrorism as a global disease that manifests in different organs — or countries — rather than as isolated incidents.

The idea that the attack came after a four-year period that was relatively terrorism-free demonstrates that the free world is facing a relentless enemy that aims at its destruction. This must be reflected in our understanding of the nature of this threat as well as the ways we use to deal with it. Defeating al-Qaida in Pakistan and in Iraq is not sufficient to protect us, as the radical teaching flourishes in many other parts of the world. Radical Islamic teaching must be fought globally as well as locally in order to ensure world security.

Lesson 2: Having a terrorism-free period does not give us immunity from attacks.

Successful efforts at preventing America from being attacked again for the eight years since 9/11 must be applauded. However, as seen in Indonesia, we must not forget that we can still be attacked, must always remain vigilant, and be relentless in our efforts to defeat Islamic radicalism.

Lesson 3: More sophisticated approaches are needed to end the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism.

Attacking U.S.-owned hotels in Indonesia after President Barack Obama’s attempts to open channels of better relationship and understanding with the Muslim world is an indication that more sophisticated approaches are needed to end the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism. Saying nice phrases to the Muslim world and trying to reach out to it may work with some Muslims but is certainly not sufficient to defeat radicals.

Lesson 4: We must do everything possible to prevent the Mulla regime in Iran from getting weapons of mass destruction.

The determination of the terrorists to attack U.S.-owned businesses and foreigners at any cost (even if this costs them their own lives) raises an important point: What will happen if such radicals get hold of WMDs? The possibility that “marriage” can occur between Islamic regimes that aim at achieving a nuclear capability, such as the Mulla regimen of Iran as well as its fellow “brothers” in other terrorist Islamic groups, must make us more vigilant to ensure that these actors do not succeed in getting such weapons.

Lesson 5: Being soft with the jihadists does not work.

This is perhaps the most important lesson we must learn from the Jakarta attacks. The Indonesian radical scholar, Abu Bakar Bashir, 67, who had been found guilty of a "sinister conspiracy" in connection with the Bali bombings (that killed 202) was sentenced to only 30 months in prison in March 2005 and was released in early June 2006. In addition, more than 100 members of the Jemaah Islamiyah of Indonesia were released in the last few years.

This soft approach did not prevent the jihadists from launching other attacks. In fact, it may have encouraged them to conduct more terror. The U.S. must learn this lesson before releasing members of al-Qaida who are currently held in Guantanamo Bay. Some of these detainees after being released may organize or conduct a major terror attack on the U.S. or on the country’s interests.

If this were to happen, those who decided to release such criminals from prison will carry the blame. Unwisely releasing terrorists and their leaders — which is what happened in Indonesia — can encourage more terrorist attacks.

Lesson 6: Assumptions about the Muslim world must be supported by concrete facts

Our assumption that “most Muslims are against the radicals” must be confirmed with objective evidence. Powerful worldwide Muslim reactions in support of certain causes (as seen with the “hijab martyr” killing in Germany) on one hand, as well the lack of massive demonstrations against these Indonesian terrorists, on the other, should raise suspicion as to whether most Muslims really are against terrorism.

More accurate evaluation of trends within the Muslim world, including degrees of sympathy toward the terrorists, is needed before assumptions are made categorizing most Muslims as anti-terrorism.

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