Thursday, November 6, 2008

Threats to US Embassies Have 'Modest Credibility'

News in Balance
U.S. Pacific Command Emblem

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2008 -- Threats of retaliation against Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono and the U.S. and Australian embassies in Indonesia after three terrorist bombers are executed have “modest credibility,” the top U.S. commander in the Pacific said today.

Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said on Fox News Channel that there’s no sense of heightened alert in light of the threats, but he emphasized the “constant degree of attention” devoted to terrorist efforts in the region.

“We are all being very careful,” he said.

A high-security prison in Java is preparing to execute Amrozi, Ali Gufron and Imam Samundra for their role in two nightclub attacks in Bali in October 2002. The attacks killed 202 people, including seven Americans and 88 Australians.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta issued a warning Oct. 31 that the terrorists had expressed hope their deaths would trigger revenge attacks in Indonesia.

“Although the embassy has no specific information about potential terrorist attacks, demonstrations by groups opposing the executions may take place with little or no public notice,” the notice said. It warned that “even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and violent and may spread in random ways” and target Westerners or Western interests.

Keating credited international vigilance with undercutting terrorist operations in the region. “They have been crippled [and] their effectiveness dramatically reduced by international efforts against those who would wage violent extremism against us,” he said.

“So they are of much-diminished effectiveness, but they are by no means eliminated as a threat,” the admiral said.

During his two-day visit to Jakarta in April, Keating called violent extremism the greatest threat to the region. He reported during a news conference with the Indonesian president that they had pledged to promote information and intelligence sharing, military and law enforcement engagement, and “whatever else is required” to prevent terrorists from operating here.

“We want to make it very difficult for those committed to violent extremism to move in Indonesia or anywhere in our area of responsibility for which I am in charge,” he said.

(Report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.)

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