Indonesia On High Alert

Flowers put up by mourners at the site of the Jimbaran beach bombing in Bali, Indonesia, Sunday. AP

Southeast Asia's two most-wanted men appear to have masterminded the near-simultaneous suicide attacks on three crowded restaurants on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, officials said Sunday, as a chilling video showed a suspected bomber strolling past dining customers moments before one of the blasts.

Twenty-six people were killed and another 100 wounded in the Saturday night carnage.

The al Qaeda-linked Malaysian fugitives, who were allegedly behind twin nightclub bombings on the same tropical island in 2002, and two other attacks in the capital Jakarta in 2003 and 2004, appear to have struck again, said Maj. Gen. Ansyaad Mbai, a top Indonesian anti-terror official.

"The modus operandi of Saturday's attacks is the same," he said, adding that Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top were not among the suspected bombers, whose decapitated remains were found at the scenes. All three were believed to be fitted with explosive belts, police say.

Video footage captures one of the suspected bombers walking determinedly past local and foreign tourists who are eating dinner, sipping drinks and chatting at candlelit tables at a noodle-and-steak restaurant in the bustling tourist center of Kuta.

He clutches his backpack, adjusts it slightly, and then disappears from the screen. Moments later there is a large blast, followed by gray smoke and the sound of terrified screams. Police said the video, obtained by Associated Press Television News, was part of their investigation.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that although no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings yet, experts say the attacks look like the work of the extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which claims links to al Qaeda and which has organized a series of terrorist attacks.

Scores of Jemaah Islamiyah suspects have been arrested in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand since 2002, leading some officials to say the group's leadership has been crippled. But analysts say it appears to have taken on a different form, working with recruits from other organizations or groups.

"I think we have to be careful not to assume that, just because Azahari and Noordin were involved, that it was a JI operation," said Sidney Jones, an expert on Indonesia's Islamic radical organizations.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, meanwhile, warned that terrorists could be planning more strikes in the world's most populous Muslim nation as Jakarta's police chief elevated the capital's security status to top alert, putting two-thirds of its police force on stand by.

"The terrorists are still looking for soft targets," Yudhoyono said at a press conference after getting a firsthand look at the devastation.

Later, he visited Sanglah Hospital, near the island's capital city, Denpasar, where dozens of people, most of them Indonesian, waited in tears for news of friends and relatives missing since the attacks. Several coffins were carried out, one of them for a child.

World leaders pledged their support Sunday for Indonesia's fight against terrorism. Malaysia expressed hope that its two citizens suspected to be the attacks' masterminds would be caught soon and brought to justice. Governments in Europe and across the globe condemned the bombings.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolence to his Indonesian counterpart Yudhoyono, urging tougher action against terrorism. Russia has tried to cast its six-year old war in Chechnya as part of the global fight against terror and pointed at alleged links between the Chechen rebels and the al Qaeda.

An Australian and a Japanese man were among the 26 killed, along with at least 12 Indonesians. Officials were trying to identify the nationalities of the other corpses in the morgue, a hospital statement said.

The 101 wounded included 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Americans, six Koreans, four Japanese, officials said.

Bali police chief Maj. Gen. I Made Mangku Pastika said he saw the remains of three bombers. It was not clear if they were included in the official death toll.

"I have seen them," said Maj. Gen. Mbai. "All that is left is their head and feet. By the evidence we can conclude the bombers were carrying the explosives around their waists."



Saturday's attacks threaten to ruin a tourist boom on the mostly Hindu island, where hotels and restaurants have in the last 18 months reported that business had exceeded pre-2002 levels and that they were looking forward to a busy Christmas and New Year. Some say it may take even longer to recover a second time around.

Veli-Matti Enqvist, 51, was one of hundreds of tourists waiting for flights at the airport.

"We were up all night trying to change our ticket," said Enqvist, who had been scheduled to leave Bali with his wife on Wednesday. "We finally found something ... we're going."

Like 2002, the bombings took place on the busiest night of the week, just as crowds began to swell.

Near simultaneous blasts went off the nearby Nyoman seafood restaurant and the Kuta's Raja restaurant, three miles away.

Since the 2002 attacks, Jemaah Islamiyah has been tied to deadly bombings outside the Australian Embassy last year at the J.W. Marriott hotel in 2003.

For months intelligence officials had received information about a terrorist attack like the latest Bali bombing, but the plot's details were not uncovered in time to thwart it, security officials said Sunday.

"The fact that there's going to be an attack was known to the intelligence community," said Ric Blancaflor, executive director of a Philippine anti-terrorism task force. "The problem always is how to get the exact details, like where."
  • Scott Benjamin

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