Al-Qaida to blame for Bali bombing, Bush says

President urges Indonesia to act against terrorists

October 15, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WATERFORD, Mich. - President Bush said yesterday that the bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali appeared to be the work of al-Qaida and was part of a pattern that included recent attacks in Kuwait and Yemen.

These incidents, Bush said, show that al-Qaida is on the rise and will continue to be a threat to the United States.

"I'm concerned about our homeland," Bush told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for a political fund-raising trip here. "Obviously, if I knew of a specific piece of intelligence that would indicate a moment or a place in which the enemy would attack, we'd do a lot about it."

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but the island of Bali is overwhelmingly Hindu. The Bush administration has repeatedly pressed the Indonesian government to crack down on Islamic extremists there, only to have its concerns brushed aside by top Indonesian officials.

At least 180 people were killed, hundreds more injured and dozens unaccounted-for in the blasts on Saturday at a nightclub district packed with foreign tourists.

The State Department said four Americans were injured in the bombing and at least two were killed. One of those, Deborah Snodgrass, had moved to Bali one year ago to teach English. Her parents, Chris and Susan Snodgrass of Phoenix, Ariz., confirmed their daughter's death yesterday.

A former All-America football player at the University of Nebraska remained unaccounted for in the area of the bomb blasts, his father said. A California man also was missing, the man's wife said.

The former football player, Jake Young, 34, was in Bali to play a final tournament with his rugby team from Hong Kong, said his father, Jacob Young. He was then planning to join his wife, Laura, and their 2-year-old son in the Kansas City area, he said. The young attorney had been working in Hong Kong for a London-based law firm.

Speaking by telephone from his home in Midland, Texas, Jacob Young said he had received an e-mail from his son's rugby club in Hong Kong, saying people were still looking but "they have found nothing."

The family of environmental consultant Steven Brooks Webster of Huntington Beach, Calif., said he, too, was missing. An avid surfer, he was in Bali celebrating his 41st birthday.

He and a friend, Steven Cabler, were in a nightclub at the time of the attack; a third friend had just left. Cabler was able to pull himself out of the rubble and was treated for burns, but he never saw Webster, according to Trent Walker, a friend of Webster's.

Webster's wife, Mona, said she has contacted a hospital in northern Australia where severely injured victims were airlifted.

In Indonesia, a top official made that nation's most explicit acknowledgment to date that al-Qaida was operating there.

"The Bali bomb blast is linked to al-Qaida with the cooperation of local terrorists," said the defense minister, Matori Abdul Djalil, speaking in Jakarta, the capital. "I am not afraid to say, though many have refused to say, that an al-Qaida network exists in Indonesia."

Bush had particularly strong words yesterday for Indonesia's president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, suggesting his patience had grown thin. He said he planned to call her to discuss the terrorist acts there and expected a "firm and deliberate" response.

"I'm going to make it clear to her that we need to work together to find those who murdered all those innocent people and bring them to justice," Bush said. "And I hope I hear the resolve of a leader that recognizes that any time terrorists take hold in the country it's going to weaken the country itself."

Yesterday it was the Indonesians, rather than the Americans, who were warning of further terrorist attacks. The security minister, Bambang Susilo Yudoyono, told reporters that security was being increased at American-run industrial sites, including an Exxon Mobil liquefied natural gas plant in the province of Aceh and a Caltex refinery in Sumatra.

Although Indonesia overwhelmingly embraces a moderate form of Islam, radical groups have raised their profile in the past year, exploiting widespread anti-American sentiment and divisions within the government.

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