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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 21, 2003

Say it isn't so. But it is. Indonesians face a painful truth - the CIA didn't do it
In a nation where conspiracy theories and rice are two of life's staples, Indonesians appear to be changing their habits. You can still get rice with your Kentucky Fried, but conspiracy theories are suddenly harder to find, at least as far as the Bali bombings are concerned.

In the days and weeks after Bali, the CIA, the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) and unidentified foreigners were all accused of planning and executing the attacks.

While Western governments immediately blamed Muslim extremists, many Indonesians were deeply sceptical.

"The CIA did it" was always the favoured alternative view. For a while it was everywhere, on the streets, peppered through the media, heavy in the tabloid press and in the pro-Muslim Jakarta broadsheet Republica.

On Monday, October 14, barely a day after the blasts, the popular tabloid Rakyat Merdeka ran a page one headline: "Scenario - America behind Bali attack".

A page one story from Republica on the same day quoted a man portrayed as an intelligence expert, A. C. Manullang, explaining why the US had to be involved. "In the World Trade Centre no Jew died. In Bali, no American died."

Less offensive, but no less wrong, he continued his argument: "It's simply impossible for Indonesians to make such a big plan. Only a superpower country is capable of making such a plan."

Even Vice-President Hamzah Haz jumped into the issue assuring his countrymen: "The Bali bomb blast I'm sure was not an act of Muslims."

The sceptics reasoned that the United States had been frustrated with its inability to prove its claims that Indonesia was harbouring terrorists. By blowing up Bali nightclubs it would be proved right and thereby help ensure a crackdown on Indonesian Islamic groups while also building support for its war on terrorism.