© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Islamic militants in Bitung, Sulawesi, have threatened a "bloody
Christmas," warning that they will detonate bombs at key sites –
including churches – in the town, reports a local newspaper.
According to the Komentar, the group that planned the recent
Makassar bombings at a McDonald's outlet and a car dealership has
formulated a plan to reign terror on Christians celebrating the
A number of terrorists have already taken up their positions in the
town, and a number of youths have been specially "trained" by the
group to take part. There are reports that five bombs have been hidden
in preparation to hit vital targets.
The police chief, mayor and the head of the city council in Bitung
discussed the threat and said they were taking concrete steps to
prevent it. Officials announced they will be guarding the petroleum,
telephone and electricity depots, places of worship and other
important facilities over the Christmas and New Year period. If
Bitung's petroleum depot is hit, authorities fear the whole of North
Sulawesi will be shaken.
It is strongly suspected that those planning the bombings are part
of the Suryadi network, reports Komentar. Suryadi, one of the Makassar
bombing suspects, is involved as a trainer with the Moro Liberation
Movement and has been delegated by Jemaah Islamiah, the militant
Islamic terror organization suspected of orchestrating the Bali
nightclub bombings, to destroy North Sulawesi through Bitung.
The city is home to 10,000 Christian refugees. Tensions have grown
over the past year prompting local Christians to report their town
doesn't "feel safe" anymore.
Tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers are also being
deployed around the island of Java, in Bali and elsewhere across the
nation for the holiday season, as intelligence officials say the Bali
bombing suspects planned more attacks, possibly timed for Christmas
Popular tourist attractions, especially churches, have been
identified as potential targets for terrorist strikes, reports the
Melbourne Herald Sun.
The U. S., Australia and Britain have issued warnings in recent
days about possible attacks on tourists during the Christmas season.
On Christmas Eve in 2000, 19 people were killed in a series of bomb
attacks on churches and priests in 11 cities around Indonesia. Jemaah
Islamiah is believed to have carried out those attacks.
WorldNetDaily reported, some 50,000 Christians in the Central
Sulawesi province town of Tentena came under seize last December by a
paramilitary group called Laskar Jihad, who's leader seeks to make
Indonesia an Islamic state. About 15,000 Laskar Jihad troops equipped
with AK-47 assault rifles, rocket launchers and bulldozers descended
on the region.
At least 600 homes and six churches were burned in the weeks
leading up to Christmas, residents reported to the
Voice of the Martyrs, an
Oklahoma-based group that monitors persecution against Christians.
The largest church in the coastal town of Poso, north of Tentena,
was bombed and burned during the onslaught, and 15,000 Christians
reportedly fled the area, VOM said.
In recent weeks, authorities in Singapore have also stepped up
anti-terrorist measures. Popular tourist spots, including the Holland
Village and Boat Quay shopping and nightclub areas, have been
barricaded amid fears of car bombs.
"What we are trying to do here is create a sense of security,"
police spokesman Stanley Norbert told the Herald Sun.
Intelligence sources told The Straits Times that while they did not
expect an outbreak the likes of the Christmas Eve bombings two years
ago, there could be scattered attacks in outlying areas over the next
few days. A senior intelligence official said the threat assessment
for Jakarta and Java was "lower", given that police had stepped up
security in these areas.
"But that does not mean that we are safe," he said. "There are
concerns that the provinces in eastern Indonesia and Sumatra could be
vulnerable to some kind of attack, given that there are large pockets
of Christians in some of these provinces." He noted that several
terrorist ringleaders had used these areas to plan their operations
and, despite the wide-scale arrests over the last two months,
extremist cells were still intact throughout Indonesia. Many of the
Jemaah Islamiah's top leaders were on the run but still in touch with
their foot soldiers, he added.
Singapore authorities have detained 31 alleged Jemaah Islamiah
members since last year, following the discovery that the banned
organization planned to use truck bombs to attack the U.S. embassy and
other Western targets.
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