Jakarta, Indonesia – Two luxury hotels, the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, were struck by bombs that killed at least eight people this Friday. Although an international tragedy – two questions are raised.
Is a terrorist bombing of this nature unique and could we have predicted it?
The answer to the first question may surprise some, however, it is clearly a no. Within the past few days many communities have been shaken by the wrath of Islamic terrorism and sectarian violence. The AFP report the death of two children, 10 and 11 respectively, at the hands of sectarian targeted bombings while VOA News reports the death of 5 children by Taliban roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
But lets move away from this one day in history. In August 2003, the same JW Marriott Hotel of these recent attacks was bombed killing 12 people. In 2002 over 200 were killed in the Bali Bombings; 19 were killed in another set of bombings in Bali in 2005; and the list goes on.
So, could we have predicted such an attack? If we take past precedent as an indicator of future events, we probably could. Taking account of the internal shifts within Jemaah Islamiah (the organisation suspected for carrying out the bombings) including the rapid rise in radicalism among radicals, the likelihood of an attack was greatly magnified. Such was predicted moments before the attacks by a number of Australian advisory groups.
But when should a government act on such a threat? I would argue that the domestic government has a right to always act – and countries such as Australia, which have often been a victim of various terror attacks in Indonesia should always exercise caution whenever there is a real threat. I would hate to hear that Australia failed to act on reliable intelligence.