CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 14, 2016 — Terror came to the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002. It returned to approximately the same area of the island in 2008. The first attack killed 202 people and injured 209 more, mostly Australians and Indonesians.
In the U.S. we ask the question “Why do they hate us?” as though Americans are the only targets of international jihad.
Yet Bali, Paris and Brussels, are living proof that Islamic extremism hates all cultures and all societies that are non-Muslim.
Bali is an Indonesian island in two ways: geographically it is surrounded by water; and it is the only Hindu island in a massive archipelago that is predominantly Muslim.
During a recent visit to Bali, I went to Kuta, site of the terrorist attacks, to get a better understanding of the background of the murderous assaults of 2002 and 2008. In the process I got a much clearer picture of the horror of those two incidents and how the terrorist mind thinks when planning its killing sprees.
The 2002 bombings took place in a congested nightclub area along Legion Street in Kuta. Legion Street is a picturesque shopping area close to a beach that is reminiscent of Miami Beach in its heyday.
The street is a narrow one-way strip for automobile and moped traffic and a haven for sidewalk cafes, discos and shops.
It is a favorite carefree hangout for millennials and international party-goers. It is also, as evidenced by the havoc created by suicide bombings and other explosions in 2002, a deathtrap.
It is an ideal location to do maximum damage with minimal infiltration by anyone seeking to kill, maim and create chaos.
When the first bomb went off inside the four-story nightclub in 2002, panic ensued with injured and uninjured alike fleeing for their lives. Less than 30 seconds later a remote-controlled car bomb outside the building trapped escapees inside the disco in a ball of flames and smoke. In the end it was the smoke that took the greatest number of lives.
A third explosion followed shortly thereafter, this one also a suicide bomb.
The result was widespread confusion as trapped visitors were unable to flee the targeted zone and emergency crews were equally incapable of maneuvering down the narrow streets to provide assistance.
Standing at the site, it is not difficult to imagine the horror of that October night in 2002. Today the place where people once danced into the wee hours of the morning, free of cares and filled with life, is nothing more than a parking lot. There will be no new building constructed at the location, though there is a lovely memorial just across the street that features the names of those who perished.
It was later reported that an audio-cassette with the voice of Osama bin Laden claimed the bombings were in retaliation for support of the United States in its war on terror and for the role Australia played in the liberation of East Timor.
Adding further to the confusion and horror was the inability of the local Sanglah hospital to handle the overwhelming number victims, particularly people suffering from severe burns.
Several perpetrators were captured quickly and brought to trial. Three of the men were executed by firing squad on the island prison of Nusakambangan in November 2008.
The terrorist responsible for setting off one of the mobile phone bombs was later killed in a shoot-out with police in Jakarta in March 2010. He went by the nickname “the Genius.”
While such evil should be brought to justice and eradicated from the face of the earth, the Western mindset that puts forth the idea that eliminating specific terrorists is a deterrent to future attacks is a hollow philosophy. Terrorism with continue to thrive because new jihadists always move into the vacated space.
Unless the problem is dealt with at the very core of its existence, incidents such as the ones in Bali are destined to occur elsewhere. In the case of Kuta, Legion Street is an ideal location for future attacks because it is a perfect storm of various negative elements merging, plus the possibility of doing maximum damage without much effort.
Despite the fact that several suspects were apprehended and brought to justice, Indonesian officials believe some of the instigators are still at large.
If nothing else, the Bali bombings highlight the fact that terrorism in our contemporary world can strike at any time, in any place.
It is going to take more than words to resolve the situation and, more important, it is going to take strength from someone, anyone, in the West with the guts to admit there is a global problem with Islamic jihad.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).
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