May 18, 2006

Howard in Canada

May 18 - Australian prime minister John Howard addressed a packed Commons and spoke directly but eloquently about the dangers we face in this war on terror:

"Terrorism will not be defeated by nuancing our foreign policy," he said.

"Terrorism will not be defeated by rolling ourselves into a small ball and going into a corner and imagining that somehow or other we will escape notice."

America's '100% ally' also directed some blunt words to anti-Americans:
"Australia, as you know, is an unapologetic friend and ally of the United States," Howard told a Commons chamber that has heard frequent criticism of Washington in recent years.

"The United States has been a remarkable power for good in the world. And the decency and hope that the power and purpose that the United States represent in the world is something we should deeply appreciate," he told a packed Commons to sustained applause.


"For those around the world who would want to see a reduced American role in the affairs of our globe, I have some quiet advice. That is, be careful of what you wish for. Because a retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world."

I've previously expressed my gratitude (and relief) that Australia steadily and forthrightly provides leadership in the war on terror for southeast Asia - the western flank in this conflict - and I'll gladly say it again: thank you, Australia. Your deeds are noticed and appreciated. Also, it won't hurt for us to remember that when the tsunamai devastated that region in 2004 that Australia was the first on the scene providing rescue and relief operations.

Australia is a member of the Commonwealth and one would think that country would get more recognition here. Australia saw to the evacuation of and medical treatment for Canadian citizens after the 2002 bombing in Bali but that received scant attention here much less any outpouring of grief from Candian citizens for the deaths of Australian citizens.

There's no way around it: the rugged capability of the Australian military and navy do not reflect well on the Canada of recent years. If, as the news report snidley suggests, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper considers John Howard to be a role model then that is not a bad thing at all.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 03, 2005

Bali Update

Oct. 3 - Tim Blair deals with rumours and some accounts that dispute the official story that the three bombs that hit two restaurants in Bali were the work of homicide bombers as well as the persistent rumours that other bombs failed to detonate by remote because the phone service went down after the initial bombs went off.

It appears that Indonesians (probably Balinese) were the largest number of casualties. CNN reports 21 dead and at least 132 wounded:

The latest attacks killed at least two Australians, one Japanese and four or five other foreigners whose nationalities have not been determined, hospital officials said. The other victims were Indonesian.

Earlier reports put the death toll higher because body parts were entering the morgue in separate body bags, police said.

Among the wounded are 68 Indonesians, 20 Australians, six Koreans, four Americans and four Japanese, with five others unidentified, according to Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari.

Two of the three chief suspects are Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed. They are Malaysians and believed to be al Qaeda operatives. The CNN account is somewhat understated; bin Husin and Mohamed are both wanted in connection with the Jakarta attacks of 2003 and 2004, as well as for their part in the 2002 Bali attack:
Syaiful Bahri, alias Apuy, was sentenced for helping the fugitive masterminds behind the attack make their bomb.
The blast, in September last year, killed 10 innocent people and the suicide bomber.

Judge Sucahyo Padmo said Bahri, 26, was guilty of "providing assistance" to Malaysians Azahari Husin and Noordin Top, who are both wanted over the September 9 attack.

Bahri helped purchase potassium used to make the two-tonne truck bomb that exploded outside the heavily-fortified mission and helped master bombmaker Azahari mix the chemicals into an explosive cocktail.

The judges said he also helped hide Azahari and Noordin, who have managed to evade police despite a three-year manhunt launched after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people - including 88 Australians.

The pair are also blamed for the 2003 blast that ripped apart Jakarta's JWMarriott hotel, killing 12.

There is something sinister about those who travel about Indonesia and other hot spots building bombs and persuading others to lash on those bombs to blow up themselves along with people eating in restaurants or nightclubbing. Calling them "terrorist enablers" is accurate but makes them sound like a group designed for a wearying number of papers submitted to psychology associations; the words I prefer are not appropriate for a blog my parents read but in their own way are more satisfying.

I'm not as angry as I was Saturday but that's not to say that I'm calmer. Bali is a beautiful island and the ideal target for Islamist extremists. The tourism industry is vital to the island's economy, which was only beginning to recover after the devastating attack of October 12, 2002, and most of the inhabitants are polytheist Hindus or Buddhists and seen as an impediment to Jemaah Islamiyah's stated goal of turning Indonesia into a strict Muslim state. If the intent of the terrorists is to isolate and impoverish Bali they may have finally succeeded.

We in North American don't pay enough attention to the Western theatre of the war on terror (fortunately, the Australians do.) Maybe this latest terror attack will get the public's attention and events in Malaysia, Thailand, the Phillippines and Indonesia will be placed in context in this worldwide war on terror.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2005

Blasts in Bali Tourist Area

Oct. 1 - Details are extremely sketchy thus far: Blasts in Bali tourist area:

EXPLOSIONS in a popular tourist area of Bali have injured at least three Western tourists and damaged buildings.

The blasts occurred along Jimbaran beach and in Kuta Square.

The area has been cordoned off and staff from nearby businesses told to leave the area, witnesses say.

A restaurant and neighbouring shop were damaged in one blast.

There is no confirmation of what caused the explosions, nor how many people were injured.

At least three Western tourists were injured in the blasts, El Shinta radio reported.

Just a caution: there is no evidence as of yet that this was another terrorist attack. But that doesn't change the fact that I am having a hard time breathing much less writing coherently. Some memories are seared so deeply that it doesn't take much to trigger a reaction.

Hope and pray. That's all we can do (for now.)

11:30 - The Australian news is reporting at least 4 bombs were detonated in the two areas; at least 19 are dead (mostly foreigners) and 51 wounded. (CNN also has the story here if your browser hates Java.)

It is suspected that Jemaah Islamiyah (an affiliate of al Qaeda) is behind the attacks. From CNN:

A report issued in early September warned that bin laden and his top lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri may be planning a series of attacks in October, dubbed "The Great Ramadan Offensive."
Tim Blair is updating as information comes in. An early report said that at least one Australian was dead and Tim Blair reports that ABC (the American network, as opposed to ABC, the Australian equivalent of the CBC) lists two Americans among the dead.

12:04 - Tim Blair is updating here as information comes in. (Sorry for the redundancy. No sleep.)

12:26 - FoxNews reports two Americans and one Australian among the dead. The nationalities of the other fatalities are not yet known. There are a number of wounded; Fox reports 38 with the largest number being Indonesians (28) which, in all liklihood, means Balinese, i.e., Hindus.

12:35 - According to Focus English News, police found another four unexploded devices were found on the island. They say there are 23 fatalities.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reported to be on his way to Bali.

12:50 - I believe Australia is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time, so it's likely going to be a long and grim night for many Australians and Indonesians as they await specifics.

"The Great Ramadan Offensive" indeed. Remember when the USA was urged not to begin the Afghan campaign until after Ramadan so as not to inflame the Arab street? I wish, I really wish, that they would get inflamed about al Qaeda's new offensive, but having been so quiet about the Iraqis who've been murdered by the pious terrorists it's unlikely they'll be too upset about a few dead Westerners and Hindus.

I keep waiting for that breaking point - that moment in time when Muslims around the world unite in opposition to the desecration of their religion and heritage. This latest attack is unlikely to provide that spark, nor will a few bombs set off in Christian neighbourhoods in Lebanon or in British subways.

Maybe there will be no spark that takes because there is no tinder. It may well be that fatalism and cynicism, two afflictions which also burden us, will prove too deeply rooted for healthy growth.

There are some things I simply must take care of before I try to sleep. Later.

13:27 - It suddenly occurred to me that the BBC would be broadcasting their evening news at this time, and I tuned it in. They are covering the Bali blasts extensively (please don't point out the obvious; I could be shopping or clubbing or ... painting my nails instead of having to spend hours trying to write posts if the American news media would just do their &*@$# jobs.)

The BBC reports there were 3 bombs and there are 22 dead and 38 wounded -35 of which are said to be foreigners.

An expert on Jemaah Islamiyah pointed out that this is the first terror attack in Indonesia since Yudhoyono took office. Trenchant point.

More from Tim Blair: a Japanese woman is among the dead. He also reports that the high number of Indonesia wounded (28) has been reported by Sangla Hospital. Eight Australians and two Americans are also reported to be injured.

I plan to continue to pretend that I can focus on mundane, personal stuff.

20:36 - An Australian news agency is now reporting 32 dead and 101 injured from the bomb blasts. One Australian teen is confirmed to be dead and at least 17 Australians are injured. (CNN reports 36 dead and 103 injured.)

There remains confusion over the identities of the dead and wounded, but it is probable that the majority of those dead and wounded are Indonesian. CBC is reporting 3 Canadians sustained minor injures in the blast and were released after treatment and Fox reports 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Koreans, three Japanese and two Americans were injured, according to an official at Sanglah Hospital. [By the way, I failed to mention earlier that a specialist burn unit at Sanglah Hospital was built by the Australian government after the 2002 Bali attacks. Sadly, it has proven useful.] Early reports that two Americans were killed may have been erroneous.

From CNN:

[Australian Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer said it appeared most of those killed were Indonesian. He said 17 Australians were among the injured. Local media reports also said several foreigners are among those wounded.

So far 15 bodies had been identified, according to Reuters news agency, quoting hospital officials. It said among the dead were 12 Indonesians, including a six-year-old boy, two Australians and a Japanese national. The wounded included 17 Australians, six South Koreans, three Americans, three Japanese and one Briton.

Downer said Australia was sending a response team to Bali, and Australian Federal Police were ready to work with their Indonesian colleagues in investigating the attacks.

It's worth saying again: The al Qaeda network in Asia is extensive and murderous. Australia is the Western front of the war on terror and doesn't get half the recognition she deserves.

Lift a few to the redoubtable Australians this evening and give them praise. Say a prayer for the Balinese who have endured more than their share. Remember that those who have died in terror attacks over the years have been a persistent reminder that the war on terror isn't about a religion but a stand against heartless murderers who attack innocent people because their message is so perverted that they cannot persuade by reason.

Death to them, I say. Death and eternal damnation.

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Douglas Wood's rescue

June 16 - Wretchard makes some very shrewd observations about the rescue of Australian Douglas Wood in Iraq in The Six Weeks.

Posted by Debbye at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2005

"for Canada is in meltdown"

May 16 - The British media are noticing what is going on here (Your Majesty, this trip could get political.)

The Daily Telegraph notes that the Queen's trip here could be delayed if

... her private secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin, answers his phone between now and then to an apologetic Canadian prime minister delivering the news: "It's all off." For Canada is in political meltdown.

The Liberal government is teetering on the brink of collapse and, should prime minister Paul Martin fall before the Queen is airborne his advice could be to stay at home.

His demise will automatically trigger a general election, and Canada in the middle of an election campaign is no place for a Queen who has avoided political hot potatoes throughout her 53-year reign.

Mr Martin has so far staved off a vote of confidence over allegations that the Liberal government gave millions of dollars in contracts to firms in Quebec, with many of those firms, allegedly, then paying kickbacks to the Liberal Party.

But, under pressure from Conservatives, he is being forced to hold one on Thursday when parliament gathers to vote on his federal budget. That is two days into the Queen's nine-day tour of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

If he is still standing by the time she touches down, the prediction is he will lose the May 19 vote.

Thus the man who greets the Queen as her prime minister at the bottom of the runway steps at Regina may no longer be her prime minister two days later.

The article goes on to question what would happen at government functions held in her honour should there be no government.

(And yes, the facts as reported are somewhat off.)

And, for all you Constitutionalists, Pixy Misa compares today's situation in Canada to a 1975 incident in Australia in which the Governor-General recognized and performed his duty.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 AM | Comments (3)

April 25, 2005

ANZAC Day 2005

Apr. 25 - What can we say about the Australians? Solid friends, valiant warriors, the kind of people you can trust to watch your backsides - which they do every day in a region just as deadly with terrorist activity as the Mid-east - and first in whenever there's a catastrophe, be it tsunami, cyclone, or bombs.

The generic Australian news site has a wonderful flash show (probably only for today) and has the video for services in Gallipoli, where over 17,000 gathered for the dawn services to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the the beach assault in 1915.

Australia's prime minister addressed the assembled:

"It lives on in the valour and sacrifice of young men and women that ennoble Australia in our times," Mr Howard said.

"In the scrub of the Solomons, in the villages of Timor, in the desert of Iraq and the coast of Nias.

"It lives on in the nation's easy familiarity, in Australians looking after each other through courage and compassion in the face of adversity.

"So we dedicate ourselves at this hour, at this place, not just to the memory of Anzac but to its eternal place in the Australian soul."

In Iraq, not even sandstorms prevented Australian troops from observing the day.
Commander of Australian forces in southern Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Roger Noble, said he felt a sense of history with the new mission effectively starting on Anzac Day.

"I think it's fantastic to get there for Anzac Day," Lt-Col Noble said.

The Australian military had historic links to the region with a number of Australian soldiers during World War I having operated across southern Iraq, he said.


Australian troops also remembered Anzac Day at Camp Victory in Baghdad.

About 200 troops and guests attended the dawn service despite the sandstorm and light rain.

Senior officers who laid wreaths at the service included multinational force commander US General George Casey, Australia's Middle East national commander Air Commodore Greg Evans, Lieutenant General David Hurley and British Major General Mark Mann.

Australian army chaplain Major Dave Hoskin officiated at the service, which included a moving audio-visual presentation to the song And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

Colonel Orhan Goktepe, commander of the Turkish contingent in Iraq, read Kamal Ataturk's tribute to the Anzacs and spoke of a mutual respect and friendship between Turkey and Australia.

Police posted as part of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) joined the Australian troops in the Solomon Islands to mark the day and special tribute was paid during the service to the two Australians who have died there, Australian Federal Police officer Adam Dunning and army Private Jamie Clark.

In Sydney, 250,000 people lined the streets to cheer participants in the Anzac Day march.
In Brisbane, 15,000 cheered the march and many held signs that said "Thank you."
In Adelaide, Bill Denny, chair of the RSL Anzac Day committee said "We must never glorify war on Anzac Day. .." Five Turkish veterans had travelled from Turkey and participated in the ceremonies.
There were up to 30,000 in Victoria, where

The parade featured a large contingent of children and grandchildren of war veterans proudly wearing war medals on their chests and carrying black-and-white photos of their relatives as they marched towards the Shrine of Remembrance.
In Perth, a 107 year-old veteran led the parade
WEAKENED by recent illness and hunched low in his seat, Australia's oldest World War I veteran Peter Casserly led the Anzac Day parade through Perth, attracting heartfelt cheers from the thousands who lined the streets.
Tim Blair writes:
Australia is a young nation, and so finds it easy to place itself on the right side of history. We are not swung off course by the historical ballast carried by older countries; we fight the right wars, for the right causes. Australian servicemen and women have prevailed in many heroic conflicts. Yet Australia’s national day of remembrance for our fallen is tied to a battle ninety years ago that we lost, catastrophically. ...

Anzac Day is less to do with loss or victory than it is to do with struggle and defiance, even when facing certain defeat. But Anzac Day also serves to remind us of Australian triumphs ...

Read the post and by all means follow the links.

Some other great reads:

Ozguru's excellent post on Anzac Day,

James Ozark and his daughter mourn the loss of her great-great grandfather in that war.

Bastards Inc. writes what ANZAC Day means to them:

It is claimed that Australia lost her innocence on the shores of Gallipoli. I would counter that rather than losing anything, Australia gained a reputation.

Just 170 men out of the Australian 4th Brigade that landed ashore on the 24/25 April 1915 made it off 8 months later. Out of over 4000 men, 170 left.

The death toll at Gallipoli was horrific:
While paying tribute to the 8709 Australians who died at Gallipoli, and the 50,000-60,000 who served on the peninsula, Mr Howard also remembered the 2701 New Zealanders, 21,000 British, 15,000 French, 1358 Indian, 49 Newfoundlanders and 86,000 Turks who died in the campaign.
As an American, I feel honoured to mark this day and to express my gratitude for the enduring fraternity between two of Mother England's more rambunctious kids.

I also dropped by Kathy's site, knowing that she too would remember to thank our valiant ally today. Well done!

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (8)

April 21, 2005

Penciled in for August. Check.

Apr. 21 - We are taking time out from our regularly scheduled coverage of Liberal Party Corruption to relay an urgent message to France from the axis of countries that don't suck.

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 PM | Comments (13)

April 17, 2005

Australian troops head for Iraq

Apr. 17 - PM Howard of Australia told the soldiers departing for Iraq "You go with our support, our prayers and our good wishes for a safe mission and a return home for all of you."

Members of the Al Muthanna Task Group have already begun departing for southern Iraq, with the navy's heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk setting sail from Darwin with 200 crew and 20 Australian light armoured vehicles with little fanfare yesterday.

The troops, mainly from Darwin's 1st Brigade, will be deployed by sea and air during the month.

Mr Howard, joined by Defence Minister Robert Hill, and Defence chief General Peter Cosgrove, attended a barbecue to formally farewell the bulk of the troops at Darwin's Robertson Barracks.

Thank you, Mr. Howard, for being a 100% ally.

Apr. 20 - 04:25: The DoD press release is here.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (30)

April 03, 2005

Australians grieve loss of 9

Apr. 3 - Nine Australian military personnel, 6 naval and 3 air force, were killed when their Sea King crashed on an island off Sumatra's west coast. Their home base ship, the HMAS Kanimbla, had been headed home after conducting relief operations in Indonesia after last December's tsunamai when an earthquake hit Sumatra and they were turned around to assist efforts there.

This crash was the worst flying naval accident in Australian history.

The casualties have been named:

... pilot Paul Kimlin, and Lieutenant Mathew Davey, a doctor, both from the ACT; Lieutenant Matthew Goodall, a helicopter observer, from NSW; Lieutenant Jonathan King, a pilot, from Queensland; Petty Officer Stephen Slattery, a medic, from NSW; and Leading Seaman Scott Bennett, an air crewman, from NSW.

The other three victims were air force Squadron Leader Paul McCarthy from West Australia; Flight Lieutenant Lyn Rowbottom from Queensland; and Sergeant Wendy Jones from Queensland.

The ship captain, Cmdr. George McGuire, is leading a crew to retrieve the bodies of their comrades. Two unnamed survivors of the crash have already been rescued and are being treated for serious injuries aboard the ship.

An investigation is to be conduced into the cause of the crash of the Sea King. The choppers have been in service for 30 years and recently "underwent a life expansion program, with the navy estimating the fleet will remain in service until at least 2015."

Prime Minister John Howard spoke to the tragedy, sending his condolences to the victims families and saying that "they had died helping others in great need."

They died in the service of this country, they died doing good things in the name of this country and they died living out the essential decency and compassion and mateship of the Australian people – so strongly displayed towards the people of Indonesia," he said.
The Kanimbla will continue its earthquake relief work in the region, which I find wonderfully consistent with the Australian character.

The fatalities will likely give additional sobriety to upcoming ANZAC Day ceremonies later this month in Australia. They suffered no casualties during their missions in support of Operation Iraq Freedom, but the relief efforts in Indonesia were also undertaken in the cause of humanity and the price of that cause too can be high.

Our condolences go out to the familes of the fallen as does as our deep respect for Australia's determination to continue their humanitarian efforts in Indonesia. They were the first to dispatch relief teams last December after the tsunamai hit, and although their quick and massive response did not receive the kind of acknowledgement in our media to which they were entitled, there are many Americans who do recognize the sterling qualities of this staunch ally and give daily thanks for their friendship.

Posted by Debbye at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

Don't mess with Australian diggers

Mar. 20 - Investigations into allegations of sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers has brought this to light: in 2001, an Australian digger who reported allegations of abuse in East Timor had to be defended and Diggers drew guns during a confrontation with Jordanian troops.

Australian digger Corporal Andrew Wratten had been told by some children that Jordanian peacekeeping troops had offered them food and money for sex.

"Wratten informed PKF (peacekeeping force) that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt (Jordan Battalion) abuse," said a senior UN official who was based in Oecussi at the time.

"A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo (helicopter) refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened.

"There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jorbatt M-16s pointed at Aussies."


Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the pedophilia that occurred in May 2001.

The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

Two Jordanian peacekeepers were expelled in July, 2001, after an investigation into the abuse.

As no Jordanian is quoted in the above story, we don't have their side as to what happened and the Jorbatt involved may not even have been aware that they were protecting pedophiles.

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 PM | Comments (26)

March 04, 2005

Australia requests appeal for light Bashir sentence

Mar. 4 - Update: 12:42 - Darn, I should have read Belmont Club earlier. Wretchard's post The Foundations of Barad-dur confronts the issue behind the issue.

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was sentenced to 30 months for his part in the 2002 Bali bombing which killed 2002 people:

The radical Muslim cleric was yesterday sentenced to just 30 months in prison for his part in the deadly conspiracy that claimed 88 Australian lives in October 2002.

He was also cleared of four other serious anti-terrorist charges including the 2003 J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta which killed 12 people.

But the court heard no testimony from Mubarok, sentenced to life in prison, or Amrozi, sentenced to death. Mubarok refused to testify, and Amrozi never appeared in the makeshift court in the Agriculture Department's auditorium in south Jakarta.

The judges also found Bashir visited a JI training camp in The Philippines in 2000.

But they cleared the Islamist cleric of all charges connected to the 2003 blast at Jakarta's Marriott hotel, which killed 12 people.


One of Bashir's senior defence lawyers, Mahendradatta, told reporters the judges' finding was "illegal", because they had not relied on direct testimony to convict Bashir, but rather on police interviews.

The preacher has always denied any connection with terrorism, and repeatedly alleged the US and Australia pushed Indonesia into trying him. His lawyers have pointed out Bashir had been in prison for nine months when the suicide bomber attacked the Marriott hotel.

Bashir was jailed shortly after the Bali bombings, and he has already been tried and convicted once. Released and immediately rearrested in April last year, the preacher was charged under Indonesia's new anti-terrorism laws in connection with the Marriott blast, and under the penal code in connection with the Bali bombings. After a five-month trial, the judges from South Jakarta district court acquitted him of all five charges in connection with the Marriott blast, and two of the three charges connected to the Bali bombings.

Both Australia and the U.S. have condemned the light sentence, and Australia has called for the prosecutor to appeal the sentence.
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said the issue was something Australians felt "very passionately" about.

"Our ambassador in Jakarta has already raised with officials in Jakarta that the sentence isn't very long," he said.

"We feel this as Australians because so many Australians died in the Bali bombing. We've got to, as a country, not just a Government, express the view on behalf of those whose loved ones were killed in Bali."

He believed a sentence of about eight years, as sought by the prosecution, would have been more appropriate.

Ba'asyir (Bashir) was found guilty of "an evil conspiracy" but acquitted of direct involvement. As he has already been in jail for 10 months due to his suspected links to the 2003 bombing of the Marriott, he will be released next year. He was acquitted last year of being the head of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group in Indonesia that has ties to al Qaeda.

CNN barely covers the reaction: Dismay over Bali bombing sentence:

Australia will ask Indonesian prosecutors to appeal for a longer jail term, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

"It's of some concern to us that the sentence is as short as it is. We're disappointed about that. We'd like to see a longer sentence," Downer told Australian television.

"I have instructed our embassy in Jakarta to raise this whole question of the short sentence with the Indonesian authorities and to say from our perspective we'd like to see a longer sentence," Downer said.

"We ask that the length of the sentence be appealed in the Indonesian courts."

Although the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said that the light sentence could provoke futher terrorist attacks against Australia, intelligence agencies there have not reported an increase in threats, according to Attorney-General Phllip Ruddock.

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2005

Jihad on the Pacific Rim

Feb. 24 - If you have time (and even if you don't) I strongly recommend reading the article Dire Straits by Austin Bay in the Weekly Standard about the growth of terror networks in the Southern Pacific.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2004

Arrests in Australian embassy bombing

Nov. 25 - Four men involved in the pre-election bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta last September have been detained and were planning more bombs, police say:

National police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said crack anti-terror police arrested the embassy attack field co-ordinator, named Rois, near Bogor on November 5, along with three other men: Hasan, Apuy and master bomb-maker Sogir.
Officers burst into their hideout and overpowered them before they could set off suicide bombs.

A cache of explosive packs and bundles were found at the scene -- chilling evidence more attacks were planned in the wake of the September 9 embassy car bomb blast that killed 11.

The four were detained in secret for almost three weeks as the hunt for other terrorists continued.


Even so, JI's [Jemaah Islamiah] principal bomb masterminds -- Malaysians Azahari Husin and Noordin Top -- are still on the run.


The missing pair are also implicated in the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed 202 people -- including 88 Australians -- and the August 5, 2003 attack on the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, which killed 12 people.

The most important of the four arrested is Rois, alias Iwan Darmawan.

He is accused of being the right-hand man of Azahari, the bespectacled, British-trained engineer believed to have overseen design of the Bali bombs.

Rois is said to have recruited Heri Golun, the embassy suicide bomber.

Posted by Debbye at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Australia renews pledge to fight terrorism

Nov. 18 - From Nov. 16, a reminder that the valiant Australians are leading the fight on terror in the Pacific (Canberra vow to boost terror fight) and forging an impressive coalition with her nieghbours.

In a speech delivered at the opening of the 41st Australian parliament, their firm committment to fight terrorism was re-affirmed and some new steps announced:

[Governor General Michael] Jeffery said the government intended to keep a controversial election promise to create six Australian police "flying squads" for quick deployment across borders to "disrupt terrorist networks."

Canberra also will create a counterterrorism and intelligence training school for Southeast Asian and Pacific countries.

"The Australian government places high priority on strengthening cooperation with our regional neighbors and offering assistance in capacity building in the fight against terrorism," Jeffrey said.

There is much too little in the news media about Australian leadership in the war on terror, but I for one feel heartened to have these doughty warriors as good friends and allies.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

Our real allies

Oct. 25 - The news that 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers were waylaid and murdered is perhaps the grimmest in several acts of violence in Iraq yesterday which also saw the death of a U.S. diplomat, Edward Seitz, and has been more than adequately covered everywhere, but I wanted to bring attention to the death of a Bulgarian coalition soldier which may have been overlooked:

A Bulgarian soldier was killed and two others were injured in a car-bombing near Karbala, the Bulgarian Defense Ministry said. Karbala, a Shi'ite holy city south of Baghdad, had been quiet since U.S. troops routed Shi'ite militia there last spring.
We don't often remember to thank the soldiers from other nations that are actively supporting the efforts in Iraq. My condolences to this man's family and hopes for a speedy recovery for the two injured soldiers.

11:56: 3 Australian diggers have been injured in the first ever attack on an Australian convoy:

The three-vehicle convoy, which protects Australia's diplomats, was hit when a bomber drove a car laden with explosives into it at about 8am Baghdad time, also killing several Iraqi civilians.

The attack happened 350m from the Australian embassy, which is outside the city's fortified Green Zone.

The convoy was believed to be on routine patrol or having returned from dropping off a diplomat. There were no diplomats with it at the time.

Defence Force spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan said one of the soldiers was undergoing surgery last night for facial injuries, another was concussed and the third was treated for minor abrasions and released.

He said the injured were taken to a US medical facility and their families were being contacted.

What can one say about the valiant Australians? (Not enough, quite frankly.) Thank you, mates.

The most arrogant aspect of the Kerry campaign has been his disregard for the real allies who are fighting and dying in Iraq in favour of promoting his phantom allies:

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
Kerry probably got the year wrong, having meant that they all chatted that Christmas they spent together in Cambodia.

It's likely there will be a sustained campaign against American, Iraqi and coalition forces this coming week as the increase in violence is clearly intended to influence the U.S. elections, but it is my belief that knowing we are being manipulated will stiffen, not weaken, our spines.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2004

PM Howard wants new security pact with Indonesia

Oct. 19 - One of the many reasons I like Australian PM John Howard is his resolute leadership in the South Pacific. His latest initiative is to seek a new security pact with Indonesia:

PRIME MINISTER John Howard wants to strike a new anti-terrorism treaty with Indonesian President-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after he is sworn in as leader of the world's largest Muslim nation.


While law enforcement agencies already co-operate on many fronts, Mr Howard now wants to enter into a formal deal with Indonesia to help pursue terrorists.

The south-east Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah, which has close ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, is based in Indonesia and has carried out a string of deadly attacks across the country in the past three years, most notably the Bali bombing which killed over 200 people in 2002, and the attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta last month.

Mr Howard said today he would use his visit to Jakarta to signal his strong commitment to Australia's relationship with Indonesia.

Mr. Howard also intends to visit the Australian Embassy in Jakarta which was attacked shortly before the Australian elections.

Posted by Debbye at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

Mark Steyn on the Australian elections

Oct. 17 - Mark Steyn writes about Australian PM John Howard for The Australian in The short man stands tall. An excerpt:

But it wasn't until 9/11 that I – and many others around the world – came to appreciate just how good the new bloke was. Rhetorically speaking, Howard is my favourite of the Anglosphere warriors. Tony Blair oscillates between being excessively messianic and vocally anguished in a rather camp way. George W. Bush staggers around like a groggy prizefighter stumbling through the same lines over and over ("Saddam Hussein is a dictator. He gassed his own people. He's a dangerous man. He gassed his own people. He's a dictator", repeat for 15 months, then invade).

But Howard, for a man routinely described as having no charisma, manages to hit just the right tone. The French got all the attention in the days after September 11 with that Le Monde headline – "Nous sommes tous Americains" – but even at the time I preferred Howard's take: "There's no point in a situation like this being an 80 per cent ally."

You can take that one to the bank. The "we are all Americans" stuff turned out to be not quite as straightforward as at first glance, and masked a ton of nuance, evasion, sly Yank-bashing and traditional Gallic duplicitousness as ripe as an old camembert wrapped in Dominique de Villepin's poetry. Even when they were touting that headline, the French were never more than 34 per cent allies.

By comparison, that ABC radio interview three years ago where Howard did the 80 per cent riff is brimming with great material. I especially liked this bit: "I'm sure the Americans will behave in a targeted yet lethal fashion."

If you're still here ... why?

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2004

Hurray for Howard!

Oct. 9 - Leapt out of bed, logged onto Australia news and began to breathe again: Latham concedes defeat to PM.

Throughout last night's Kerry-Bush debate I noted the lack of any mention of Australia, and surmised it was due to the fact that the voting was taking place.

Great news! Now I can admit how worried I was (probably because the election had been described as too close to call) that we would lose our staunch ally.

The Anglosphere, aka Chirac's Biggest Nightmare, is speaking. Is anyone listening?

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2004

Australian digger awarded Bronze Star

July 5 - Australian Colonel Peter (Ted) Acutt was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptionally meritorious service (Digger awarded US war medal).

"He was instrumental in maintaining effective coordination between various coalition military elements, the Coalition Provisional Authority and emerging Iraqi ministries," Mr Brough [Asst. Def. Min. Mal Brough] said in a statement.

"In particular, Colonel Acutt was a strong advocate of cooperative planning for security matters and some of his initiatives have assisted the transition to Iraqi sovereignty."

Well done, Colonel. Deepest respects and gratitude to you and the other valiant Australians.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 AM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2004

Australia Terror Watch

June 2 - An Australian court sentenced British-born Jack Roche nine years in prison for plotting to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Australia (British Muslim is jailed for al-Qa'eda embassy bomb plot.)

The Australian press reports that the prosecutor, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, has asked officials to appeal leniency of the sentence.

Roche could be released on parole from prison in Western Australia in May 2007 - after District Court judge Paul Healy on Tuesday reduced what he said would have been a 12-year sentence to nine years because of Roche's co-operation with authorities in October and November 2002 and his eventual guilty plea.
The article also notes that Roche may have received a light sentence because he may have tried to become an informant after contacting the ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) in 2000.
Mr Ruddock has confirmed ASIO failed to respond when Roche left two messages in July and August 2000 - three months after his return from Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he met al-Qaeda terrorists.

"The Government does see the issue of terrorism and the potential harm it could wreak in Australia as a matter of very real significance," he said.

The government source said ASIO had been aware for more than a year of one officer's failure to contact Roche.

Another Australian, Bilal Khazal, has been charged with publishing documents inciting terrorism on the internet (with more here about a list of targets.)

I have to run a search tomorrow - sorry, I have to get ready for work - but I believe Khazal's name came up during a trial in Spain of al Qaeda operatives accused of assisting the Sept. 11 plotters.

Khazal had been sentenced in absentia by a Lebanese court for his part in the bombing of a MacDonalds in April, 2003.

Khazal is said to be connected with Saleh Jamal, who was arrested in Lebanon and gave an unexpected confession about his association with al Qaeda:

THE Sydney fugitive arrested in Lebanon has confessed to raising terror funds in Australia, recruiting potential holy warriors and organising bombings, Beirut's chief prosecutor said last night.

In claims that surprised Australian authorities, Prosecutor-General Adnan Addoum said the movements of Saleh Jamal, 32, had been monitored before he jumped bail in March using a false passport.

Mr Addoum said Jamal had confessed to attending Palestinian refugee camps since he fled Australia in March and to forming links with al-Qaeda members in Lebanon.

He also apparently confessed to a role in a bombing last month near the embassy district in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Police sources confirmed yesterday that a second man arrested with Jamal, Haitham Milhem, was also a Sydney resident. The nature of the charges against him were due to become clearer by early this morning.

Tim Blair comments here on Roche's sentence, and Professor Bunyip has some links that refer to the website said to be run by Khazal.

Posted by Debbye at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004

Australia (Football) Rules

Mah 20 - Ozguru is liable if my fall off my chair resulted in any injury ... he's got two posts that require Hazard to Your Gravity warnings: Insufficient Corruption and Real Footy.

I've seen those men in the white suits on the rare airing of Australian football. It's freaking surreal.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (2)

May 02, 2004

Al Qaeda plays the market

May 2 - Al Qaeda, the refuge of those who are "in despair," dabbles in the Australian stock market with some help from a country some believe to be an ally: Aussie stocks help fund al-Qaeda:

AL-QAEDA is secretly investing in blue-chip Australian stocks and using the profits to help finance terrorism.

British intelligence agencies have established the terror group is also targeting top technology and defence corporations in Australia, Singapore and other Pacific Rim countries.

They say al-Qaeda is laundering billions of dollars it earns through drug-running, with the help of China's Secret Intelligence Service. [Emphasis added.]

US Treasury agents, working closely with European intelligence services, believe more than $A1 billion has been invested in stocks by al-Qaeda since the start of the year. [That's Australian dollars, btw.]

The money has been laundered through unsuspecting banks as far apart as Australia, Japan, Germany and Ireland.

British intelligence agency MI6 has also established that al-Qaeda's partner in the drug running was the China SIS.

Please, is really anyone surprised that Communist China may be less than an honourable member of the world community? PM Martin may think that the Chinese, who are wholeheartedly repressing human rights and reneging on agreements over Hong Kong, should have a seat at his G-20 table, but is that to protect Canadian trade with China or because he thinks the Chinese have anything to offer to the future?

[Note to those who read the article: CSIS in this case refers to the Chinese, not Canadian, intelligence agency.]

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2004

Terror watch in Australia

Apr. 30 - The Australian government has issued a travel warning for southern Thailand (Australians warned off Thailand.) This warning comes not only as a result of recent terrorist actions there but also because of 1.3 tons of ammonium nitrate as well as dynamite and detonators stolen in late March which authorities fear could be used in an attack.

Although not related, the arrest of Abu Bakar Bashir for masterminding the 2002 attack in Bali will probably heighten tensions in the area. Bashir is said to be a leading figure in Jemaah Islamiyah which is associated with al Qaeda:

Bashir's fate is a sensitive political issue in Indonesia, where authorities have sought to balance the need to remain aggressive in the US-led war on terror while not appearing to cave in to pressure from the United States and Australia.

Officials have taken their case to the media, arguing in interviews Thursday that they have testimony from scores of witnesses from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore who can prove Bashir is the Jemaah Islamiyah leader.

[A top anti-terror official at the security ministry Ansyaad] Mbai also said authorities have recently uncovered reams of new documents implicating Bashir, including a letter signed by Islamic extremists in the Philippines that allegedly identifies him as the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah.

Posted by Debbye at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

Gun Control in Australia

Apr. 29 - Nice commentary on the results of gun control Abuse & Misuse with a ricochet on statistics and the lying liars who misuse them.

Posted by Debbye at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

Australian possibly killed in Iraq (Updated)

Apr. 29 - There is a possibility that an Australian civilian has been shot and killed in Basra (Australian killed in Iraq) although other reports state the victim was a South African.

What can one say about Australia? Staunch friend and good ally hardly covers it. Their military is top-notch, and PM John Howard has shown firm resolve against Zimbabwe's Mugabe and has been solid in his leadership of anti-terrorism in the South Pacific and Asia.

It irritates me that our media pays scant attention to any part of the world that isn't France, but then I don't pay much attention to the media.

Whether the victim is Australian or South African is less important, though, than the sober fact that civilians who are trying to rebuild Iraq are targeted by a cowardly enemy that hides behind anonymity while agitating against coalition forces because the infrastructure isn't being built as rapidly as everyone wants it to be.

I could warn the murderers that it isn't a good idea to piss off Australians, but I doubt they'd listen. They never do.

Apr. 30 - 00:13: The victim was from South Africa.

Posted by Debbye at 11:53 AM | Comments (2)

April 28, 2004

UNSCAM in the Australian press

Apr. 28 - The Australian carries an opinion piece by James Morrow on UNSCAM, UN apologists remain silent on oil scandal which raises some points U.N. apologists and the left might eventually have to answer.

Posted by Debbye at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004


Apr. 25 - Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand.

You never heard of Gallipoli? (Real question. Given the state of history courses these days, it is entirely possible people never heard of Gallipoli.) Still wonder why it matters?

PM Howard in Iraq.jpg

CNN is actually carrying this story, but I prefer the account in the Australian press (PM in Baghdad for Anzac Day) which quotes Australian PM John Howard extensively:

"The trip to Iraq is in recognition of the great sacrifice and contribution Australian personnel are making there in challenging conditions," Mr Howard said.

"They are following in the footsteps of countless other Australians who have served the nation in many other parts of the globe.

"I am certain that all Australians will join me in expressing heartfelt thanks for their efforts.

"In remembering those who in the past have given their lives defending our freedoms and way of life, we should also honour those who today put their lives at risk in the service of Australia."

Mr Howard was joined by Mal Brough, minister assisting the defence minister, and Chief of the Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove.

How much do the people down under care about ANZAC Day?
In Perth, children in pyjamas were among the 30,000 people massed for a dawn service in Kings Park.

Melbourne's service attracted about 15,000 and there were big crowds for events in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart.


About 6000 people attended the dawn service at Adelaide's War Memorial, more than in previous years, despite chilly morning weather.

Remember, it's November weather there, not April weather.
More than 10,000 people packed the streets of Brisbane to watch one of the biggest Anzac Day marches in years.

It was the first Brisbane march in which no World War I veterans took part because Australia's oldest digger Ted Smout was too ill to attend.

But that didn't stop the crowds cheering and clapping as the parade moved from George Street along Adelaide Street and past the Shrine of Remembrance in the heart of the city.

One of the biggest cheers was reserved for the huge contingent of Vietnam veterans.

The parade took more than two hours to pass King George Square, where Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce joined Premier Peter Beattie in taking the salute.

Last year, ceremonies were held in Gallipoli but terrorist threats caused the Australian govenment to issue travel warnings.
Meanwhile, thousands of Australians defied the government's travel advice to make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Day.
After the horror of Bali, why would they do so? Maybe because of Bali?
At Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, former Templestowe College student Warren Evans, 19, spoke about attending the Anzac Cove and Lone Pine service last year in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Gallipoli soldier Horace Scott Holland.

"It was a defining moment for me, a moment that helped shape my understanding of my family and an understanding of my identity as an Australian," he said.

"It was then I thought of my great-grandfather facing those huge cliffs. He was a survivor but later died when he was gassed on the western front.

"I thought that when he went to war and when my grandfathers went to New Guinea in the Second World War they were much the same age as me.

"In this moment, I came to understand my place as an Australian."

Our North American media notwithstanding, the internet has allowed us to bypass their filters and go the the source. Thus we know about East Timor, the Solomons, and Australia's central importance in an often overlooked theatre in the war on terror: South-east Asia.

I can't resist comparing the differences in attitude toward veterans in Canada, Australia, and the U.S.

In Canada, Remembrance Day is very solemn and teary. Although there are many words about how "they died to make us free" there are also determined government and media voices that vow "never again." There are gatherings at Cenotaphs which reinforces the death theme, but attendance has been larger these past two years than before Sept. 11 and it's pretty clear that the people of Canada are angry (and getting angrier) with the treatment of those in the Canadian Forces and are demanding better equipment and more funding. When the troops returned from Afghanistan in 2002, the people of Edmonton turned out to cheer them.

I go to the Toronto Cenotaph out of respect and wish I could have been in Edmonton. However much we may grieve for the loss of lives in defence of the nation, I think we can proudly cheer the fact that this country has produced and continues to produce such fine men and women.

In Australia, ANZAC Day is both solemn and celebratory. They honour their warriors of the past, renew their country's pledge to safeguard the region, and cheer their troops. I might add that last year's ANZAC Day ceremonies were also well attended. Australians not only have Sept. 11 but Oct. 12 Bali to stiffen their resolve.

In the USA it is all of the above, maybe because we have two days: Memorial Day in May is when we honour our dead; Veterans' Day is when we honour all those who served. Memorial Day has it's teary moments, but it's less an orgy of sorrow and more of a "stand up straighter and complete the mission" kind of thing. And the Gettysburg Address is recited in every town and hamlet by somebody and everybody.

I have heard people say that "of course they would fight if the enemy was actually on our shores" and I retort "by then, it's too late" and resist from adding "Moron!"

Sheesh, what part of they fight so we don't have to don't people get?

Honour those who serve and have served. Cry for their loss, and cheer their resolve. We owe them both gratitude and a renewal of our committment to them.

Silent Running has a wonderful tribute on this day, Ambient Irony is pithy but eloquent, and Professor Bunyip is now cutting Howard some slack.

13:24 Kathy, another American, remembers, and her post provided a link to a dummies guide to Anzac Day (and an interesting fact about the Australian army forces) at G'Day Mate. (Update: Ozguru has more information here. Wow. I didn't any of these things.)

20:32 According to the Daily Telegraph (UK), over 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders went to Gallipoli despite government warnings. Absolutely awesome. According to the Australian press, they were mostly young and surpassed the record numbers set in 2002.

UPDATE Feb. 2, 2005: Thanks to Paul Woodward for bringing this link to my attention. It concerns a project to bring the Levies (Assyrians) who fought beside the Australian and New Zealand troops in WWI and WWII to Australia to participate in the 2005 ANZAC Day parade:

In April of 2005, the Levies (Assyrian) veterans who fought side-by-side with the Australian and New Zealand contingents in WWI and with the RAF and British Commado in WWII will march with the RAF at the ANZAC parade in Sydney, Australia. My good friend (Akhooney) Gaby Kiwarkis - 6th Battalion - Royal Australian Regiment is one of a small team of first or second generation vets that will enable the Assyrians to March with the RAF at the parade. In the simplest of terms, we need your help to fund the cost of bringing Assyrian Levies to Sydey from all over Australasia - in fact from all over the world. Gaby will be taking point and will speak at the memorial ceremony. In his own way, he will commemorate and celebrate the life of Squadron Leader Colin Woodward, Squadron Leader Maurice Skeet and Lieutenant Robert Sherwood - all of whom were dependent upon the Levies, many of whom gave their lives for freedom and democracy.
It seems like a very worthy project.

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 AM | Comments (8)

April 19, 2004

Australian PM slams Spanish retreat

Apr. 19 - Australian PM John Howard slams Spanish troops home

Prime Minister John Howard has attacked Spain's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq and brushed aside suggestions Australian troops might be sent to fill the gap.

Mr Howard told reporters at Traralgon in eastern Victoria that Spain had made a mistake.

"Spain's decision will give heart to those people who are trying to delay the emergence of a free and democratic Iraq," he said.

"Every time a country appears to be retreating from a difficult situation encouragement is given to those people who have created the difficulty."peMr Howard poured cold water on suggestions Australians might replace Spanish troops.

"We have had no request to do so," he said.


"I am going to repeat the principle: we are not cutting and running, we are going to finish the job, we are going to do what Australians always do and that is to see things through."

Australia has 850 personnel in the Middle East with about 300 inside Iraq, providing security, air traffic control at Baghdad airport and training Iraqi military personnel.

Australia has been a true friend and staunch coalition partner.

Posted by Debbye at 02:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2004

Terror threats in Australia

Apr. 2 - The hunt is on for Abou Saleh, a Chechen said to be one of bin Laden's most senior bomb experts, who was recruited by a deported terrorist, Willie Brigitte, to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia.

Brigitte told interrogators he had been ordered by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda operatives to meet Salah in Sydney to help him prepare an Australian atrocity.

According to the French dossier on the Australian terror threat, Salah and Brigitte were to work with Pakistan-born Sydney architect Faheem Khalid Lodhi to prepare "an attack of great size" in Sydney.

The dossier said Salah was also the commander of a series of vast terror-training camps in Pakistan.

It is believed that the attack is to be made upon military or nuclear facilities.

A report on transport security prepared by Australian officials was distributed at an anti-terrorism conference in Manila organized by the ASEAN Regional Forum. It stated that terrorists may be planning to attack shipping lanes with a "crude nuclear device". Jemaah Islamiyah is said to be thriving despite the crackdown by the Indonesian government and

... appeared to be pursuing terror training and links with groups from the Philippines to Pakistan.

"The overall picture ... is that South-East Asia remains a front line in the fight against terrorism. More attacks that threaten the safety and security of regional communities are inevitable," said an Australian government report. [Original ellipses]


One indication that the group [Jemaah Islamiha] was determined to survive was its effort to link up with organisations beyond South-East Asia, the report said, citing the discovery of a Jemaah Islamiah unit, identified as the al-Ghuraba cell, in Karachi, Pakistan, last year.

The cell, composed of Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans, was established to train future religious and military leaders, it said.

Another Pakistan-based terror group, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, has also been linked to the Karachi cell, the report said.

It said there were indications that Jemaah Islamiah was working with extremist groups in the southern Philippines "to the point of sharing training facilities and operational expertise".

Posted by Debbye at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2004

Syria seeks Australia's help

Mar. 29 - Via Instapundit, Syria seeks Australian help to woo US:

SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US.

Secret talks between the two nations have been under way for months but have become more urgent as rogue nations reconsider their role in allowing terrorists to thrive, in light of the US determination to take pre-emptive military action.

Nothing says "change your ways" like having the US army as a neighbour.

Posted by Debbye at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2004

Important stories from Thursday

Lots more on Adscam, but Andrew Coyne is doing such a terrific job I'm going to let him carry this ball.

According to the Chinese ambassador, Canada's lot lies with EU

The Chinese Ambassador in Brussels said the other day, in that big-picture Chinese way, that the creation and success of the European Union is one of those transforming human events that happens every 300 or 400 years.
The article notes that the EU has successfully avoided war. It doesn't note that one of the wars it avoided was the ongoing one in Kosovo.

More anti-Semitism in Toronto:

Police had to be called to York University on Tuesday after a dramatization of an Israeli border crossing by pro-Palestinian students led to a rival demonstration at the politically charged campus.
Is there a connection with what happened yesterday? As Margaret Wente points out, We Can't Afford to Look Away noting that the West is looking away from blatant anti-Semitism in the Arab world.

The insurrection in Syria went into it's fifth day. The death toll is reported to be at least 30. A timely reminder:

Kurds comprise almost two million of Syria's 17 million population although about 200,000 of them are not recognised as citizens of the country as a punishment for seeking to establish an autonomous homeland.
Australia and Japan were mentioned as possible targets on the Al-Quds al-Arabi webiste but both governments said they wouldn't be intimidated. The website also reassured the Spanish government that they needn't worry:
In its statement, Abu Hafs al-Masri said it was calling a truce in Spain to give the socialist government that was elected Sunday, three days after the train attacks, time to carry out its pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq.
How humiliating it must be for the Spanish to be told that the group which has claimed responsibility for killing 202 people in the attack last week is pleased with their election results.
The group appeared to boast it had the power to change governments. The socialists, who have long opposed Spain's military involvement in Iraq, were running second in Spanish opinion polls until Thursday's bombings.

"We change and destroy countries," the statement said. "We even influence the international economy, and this is God's blessing to us. We won't accept to be an object in this world, but a player, a strong player - with God's will."

The statement tells American voters that Abu Hafs al-Masri supports the re-election campaign of U.S. President George W. Bush: "We are very keen that Bush does not lose the upcoming elections."

The statement goes on to boast that it is anxious to have the Arab world see how dreadful the US really is. Sounds a lot like the Maoist rhetoric I heard back in the 60's.

Many thanks for the links to these stories which were available because I receive Jack's Newswatch by email daily.

Posted by Debbye at 10:45 AM | Comments (4)

January 29, 2004

Omar Abdi Mohamed

Jan. 29 - From the Daily Telegraph (Australia): Terror arrest shocks officials:

AN ACCUSED terror financier arrested in the US last week had only just returned from a trip to Australia where he is believed to have a child.

In an embarrassing security blunder, the arrest took Australia's intelligence agencies - who were unaware the suspect was in Australia - by surprise.

Omar Abdi Mohamed, 41, is under investigation after allegedly receiving $454,866 from a group accused by US authorities of direct links to al-Qaeda.

Australian officials were shocked because

1)they weren't aware he was a terror suspect and had travelled 4 times to Australia under visa as well as once to Africa and twice to Saudi Arabia, and

2) he has a wife and/or girlfriend and child in Australia and a wife and 6 children in San Diego.

Posted by Debbye at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

January 23, 2004

Maureen Dowd is a poodle

Jan. 23 - This one needs some explaining, but I'd rather let an Australian, Tim Blair, start it off since they were slandered.

Blackfive compared the participants in the Korean War with the Iraq War and came up with a real yardstick, from which was born this:

The rantings of a homicidalManiak: Google bomb: Maureen Dowd is a poodle.

Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Actually, my sense of justice would be better served if MoDo had to face some of the Bali bombing survivors, but this will do.

UPDATE: Iraq Now has some pretty scathing comments on the column and wonders if she's stacking the deck. But gee! that would be as dishonest as, say, using ellipses to distort the meaning of a quote!

Posted by Debbye at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2004

Arson suspected in brush fires

Jan. 8 - I'll never understand arsonists. I don't mean the ones I'm not supposed to understand - those who are pathologists - but the ones who set fire to dry brush for kicks.

The fires in Australia last summer destroyed forests, wildlife, homes, and killed several people, and it looks as though the cycle is starting up again (Summer arson menace returns.)

This time fires threatened communities around the Ku-ring-gai national park to the north of Sydney and arson is again strongly suspected:

Fire chiefs said the threat to property had abated but said arsonists were believed to be responsible. Phil Koperberg, the Rural Fire Services commissioner, said fires at Wilton south of Sydney, at Akuna Bay northwest of Sydney, and near Dubbo in central NSW were believed to be deliberately lit.

"There you have three fires of significance and almost 100 per cent arson rate," he said.

Posted by Debbye at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

Australia rushes aid to Niue

Jan. 8 - A cyclone hit the island of Niue on Tuesday, and Australia has responded to a request from the government of that island and is sending medical teams which are expected to stay about 3 weeks:

[Acting Prime Minister John] Anderson said C-130 Hercules aircraft would fly out tonight from the RAAF Richmond Base carrying medical and nursing staff to Niue.

The flight team will also include a midwife and specialists who will assess Niue's public health situation.


New Zealand has already sent relief teams to the Pacific island, which was devastated by Cyclone Heta on Tuesday.

Australia has pledged aid funding of $150,000 to address relief needs such as water purification, first aid supplies and food and shelter requirements for the people of Niue.

Posted by Debbye at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2003

British, Australian troops deployed abroad

Dec. 25 - Too often, we overlook the fact that the military force in Iraq is multi-national, and that they too sacrifice to serve their countries in the defence of freedom. Reading this article from the Daily Telegraph (UK), Quarter of Armed Forces personnel abroad for Christmas, I was astonished at how many British service men and women are deployed abroad, not only in Iraq but throughout the world:

The largest deployment of British forces abroad remains Germany with 21,500 soldiers and airmen still based there. An additional 13,500 are serving in northern Ireland.

But the next largest deployment is 8,300 in Iraq with a further 1,270 in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The number of British troops in Afghanistan has dropped to just 377. Deployments in the Balkans have also been heavily cut but 1,449 servicemen and women remain in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

There are 3,250 British servicemen and women in Cyprus, 1,240 in the Falklands, 420 in Gibraltar and small numbers in Nato bases in Europe.

There are also 456 on UN missions abroad. Most are in Cyprus but there are 22 in Sierra Leone and smaller numbers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Liberia and Ethiopia and Eritrea - the smallest detachment with three people.

Over 2,000 Australians are deployed abroad including Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands:
Australian forces are spread in more countries now than at any time since World War II.

They will miss their wives, husbands, children, relatives and friends. But from Baghdad to Dili to Honiara, they're doing their best to replicate a traditional Aussie Christmas, enjoying a cold beer and a hit of cricket.

In the Solomon Islands capital Honiara, Australian Federal Police agent Darren Booy has organised a cricket grudge match against his Kiwi colleagues.

There are also American, Canadian, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Bulgarian, Danish, French, German, Indian, Japanese and soldiers from other nations who have sworn to serve their countries and "hold the line" far from their native shores.

Never forget them. Never take them for granted. God bless the men and women who serve, and let them know that their sacrifices are known and valued.

UPDATE: The Queen's Christmas message this year was a departure from tradition, filmed from Combermere Barracks at Windsor and praising the valor of the men and women serving as well as those volunteering in the UK.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph (UK) is carrying more coverage of the Queen's Christmas address here, and their leader (opinion) proclaims The Queen inspires national team.

UPDATE: Pride and gratitude for the troops and their families were also the main feature of President Bush's Christmas Message (full text not online yet, although there's a press release dated Dec. 19 here.)

Canadian troops in Afghanistan got snow and enjoyed a brief snowball fight, and in the tradition of servicemen and women everywhere, American soldiers count one another as family until they get back home, and to bring the Christmas spirit of giving wherever they are.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

Australia to join missile shield

Dec. 4 - Australia to join missile shield which displeases the Chinese.

Beijing, in particular, fears the U.S. system is designed to negate the effectiveness of China's somewhat modest nuclear arsenal and will be used to shield Taiwan and embolden pro-independence forces there.

China argues the system will undermine the global strategic balance, which could lead to a new arms race.

North Korea. Iran. What kind of dissembling are the Chinese engaged in? We are already in the midst of a new arms race!

And as for shielding Taiwan, Good stuff!

Posted by Debbye at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2003

Reconstruction in Iraq

Nov. 30 - With yesterday's deadly attacks on coalition members, it is important to remember that reconstruction in Iraq remains the focus. Australia is considering a plan to deploy troops, including members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), to Iraq to help rebuild the Iraq armed forces ( | Sailors head back to Iraq (December 1, 2003).)

AUSTRALIAN sailors will be deployed to Iraq to help rebuild a local navy that Coalition forces destroyed at the outset of the Iraqi war.

A plan being considered by the Federal Government will see a team of RAN personnel establish a naval school for Iraqi seamen.

The RAN team will be in addition to a proposal to have a joint US-Australian Defence Force contingent of soldiers to train a local army.

Defence Force chief General Peter Cosgrove said the troop numbers remained unknown since the plan was still being considered.

"If it does transpire, then we will send troops specially selected to do those sorts of jobs," he said yesterday.

"I don't think it will be a particularly large contingent . . . it will essentially be soldiers. If we get involved with training the new Iraqi navy, naturally some Royal Australian naval personnel would be involved as well.

"Iraq has a coastline and it will have a smallish navy, equally that's part of Iraq's future to be able to look after its sovereignty; it will look after its own maritime approaches."

Reconstruction, for us, means turning Iraq over to the Iraqis as soon as possible with the means to defend themselves.

Posted by Debbye at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2003

Relationships Australia

Aug. 9 -- Maybe it's that mean streak I have, but I always feel relieved when news from the UK or Australia is even weirder than anything Canada or the US has come up with recently.

Evidently the Australians have a government agency called Relationships Australia. Note that I'm not laughing: for all I know there's one in Canada too, and unless Sheila Fraser reports that they overspent their budget by more than $1 million, I am unlikely to ever hear of it unless the people running it have the incredible stupidity to release a report.

Given the uproar the recent SCOC ruling and subsequent debate over legalizing gay marriages has caused, this report will throw both sides into turmoil because the implication behind the major recommendation of the report means that, according to Relationships Australia, being gay is a lifestyle of choice.

Posted by Debbye at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2003

Australian Wine Exports Soar

Aug. 4 -- From Australia: Wine exports soar:

WINE exports soared 15 per cent last financial year to $2.4 billion, fresh figures show, making the beverage Australia's 11th most important export commodity.

The data comes as Australian winemakers plan to challenge the dominance of "old world" rivals in Europe's premium wine market and push low-cost wines in the United States to maintain the strong export growth of recent years, according to industry experts.

The increase, which takes wine exports to a record high, was based on stronger sales to Britain, Europe and particularly the US.

Sales to the US soared 55 per cent in 2002/03 to 173.6 million litres, while sales to Europe and Britain increased 11.2 per cent to 289.7 million litres.

Exports to all other regions except North East Asia increased, lifting overseas sales by 23.4 per cent to 516.5 million litres.

They are much too modest. I began sampling Australian wines when I decided that French wines, like the French themselves, were highly overrated and found the Australian brands to be excellent and reasonably priced.

There's also the emotional satisfaction of supporting your friends instead of your enemies, but maybe that's just me.

Posted by Debbye at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)