Bali Nightclub Bombing Death Toll Keeps

Bali Nightclub Bombing

The death toll keeps rising in the bombing on Saturday of two nightclubs on the Indonesian island of Bali. Today I saw 187 given as the number of dead, with over 300 wounded. After September 11, any such scenes of a burning blast site just tear me up inside. I think of those innocent people, just relaxing, taking a vacation from their work lives.

The likely suspect is the Jemaah Islamiya, the same tiny set of radical cells that had targeted US naval vessels in Singapore. Among its leaders is Abu Bakar Bashir. The radical Islamists typically target tourists. This was a tactic in Egypt, as well. Such attacks have the advantage of discouraging tourism, and so they help weaken the government and prepare for its overthrow. They also discourage a Western presence and influence in a Muslim country. And, they grab headlines. It is a brutal, satanic sort of politics, perpetrated by zombies who have forfeited their humanity.

I recently had a conversation with a prominent liberal Indonesian Muslim thinker. He said that in his view Bashir’s group had a peculiar ethnic basis. It was mainly comprised of Indonesians of Yemeni descent. He also maintained that the Saudi Embassy in Djakarta had made efforts in the past few decades to reach out to these Hadramawti clans and to shift them toward Wahhabism.

If he is correct, then the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiya is typical in being a tiny group of extremists without broad roots in or support from the wider society.

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