It was a week for do-it-yourselfers in the war world. A little lesson for us all, that you don’t need a lot of hardware to make war. All you need is the old standbys: hunting rifles, blasting caps, and trucks full of fertilizer. There was some guy in a white van driving around DC shooting all the wrong people; there was that bomb in Bali that wiped out half the surfers in Australia; and there was the sad case of a Finnish looneytune who decided to blow up a mall in Helsinki.
The nicest part about the Helsinki episode was the fact that the bombmaker saved the taxpayer some money — blew himself up while planting the bomb. No messy trial to worry about. Messy floor, yes. Messy trial, no. The Brits used to have a name for that kind of fumble, when some IRA bomb-delivery boy would trip over the cat on his way to drop off the payload and blow himself up. The Brits used to call it an “own goal,” which is what those soccer fags call it when you boot the ball into your own net. Like Bill Hudson says in Aliens, “Game over, man!”
That DC sniper — now there’s a waste of a good idea. If anyplace ever needed weeding it’s DC. If you saw a headline, “DC Sniper,” you’d want to cheer, right? It’s like the title of some inspirational movie, with the sniper blowing out politicians’ brains and just generally improving the air quality for everybody. He’d be like a Santa Claus: “Dear Sniper, Please kill [name of politician here] for me.” “Dear Sniper, here’s a list of all the timber company lobbyists operating in DC. Please kill as many of them as you can.” “Dear Sniper, please make some more vacancies on the Supreme Court so I can smoke my dope in peace for once.”
All those targets, and who does this bozo shoot? Harmless little citizens filling their tanks or sipping their coffee. What good is that? Call that sport, do you, Sniper-man? That’s about as sporting as shooting dogs in the park. You want to prove what a great sniper you are? Then kill somebody famous. Somebody important. Somebody with Secret Service protection.
The whole sniper thing is just another lesson in how powerful small units can be in irregular warfare. This is a group consisting of one or two guys (one driver and one sniper). And it’s got millions of people terrorized. A dozen snipers around the country and the whole US would grind to a halt. So you can bet that Al Qaeda is watching the sniper, scratching their beards saying, “Akbar, make a note! Buy hunting rifles!”
And that brings us to this week’s big bang: the bombs that killed 200 or so Aussie hippies partying in Bali. I’ve heard so much misinformation about this bombing that it’s hard to know where to start. Basically, everything you’ve probably heard was wrong.
Like that it’s “senseless.” Bullshit. It’s sick, it’s horrible, but it’s not senseless. The first thing they teach you in Terrorism 101 is the old proverb, “The worse, the better.” Meaning: the terrorist’s whole goal is to polarize and impoverish Indonesia. These guys destroyed the whole Indonesian tourist industry in a few seconds. Billions up in smoke. For them, that’s good news. It means a few million young Javanese Muslim guys grow up without jobs, without education…in fact, without much of anything but Allah. Allah fer breakfast, Allah fer lunch, Allah all day long. Guys like that make great recruits. Blowing yourself up looks like a great career move when you don’t have a lot of other options.
The terrorist wants to provoke a big reaction. These guys want Bush to send the gunboats. It’s an even better recruiting device when you can point to the US ships off Jakarta and say, “Infidels off our shores!” or point to the F-15s flying over Java — “Infidels humiliating us!”
All that for the price of a few hundred dead surfer kids? For Al Qaeda, that’s no price at all. Of course, the First World papers and networks will call them savages, but that’s not who they’re trying to reach. They’re trying to reach the lower-middle-class Javanese, who already feel angry when they see blond Aussie girls having fun on their own, driving cars, revealing their faces to strangers….now somebody’s struck a blow for Allah and modest attire. The Javanese won’t say so outright, but they’ll be pleased. And if the US tries to punish them, it plays right into Al Qaeda’s hands.
The bombing itself was a classic technique: two bombs, a small one to scare the crowd, get it running — then a big, lethal one to blast them as they’re trying to funnel through the street to get away. It’s an old, old trick. The Palestinians did it to some Israeli soldiers a couple of years ago: they set off a small bomb in a roadside diner full of soldiers. Everybody ran outside, where the second suicide bomber was waiting. He pulled his string and killed a dozen soldiers, along with himself.
And that’s a big deathtoll for a homemade bomb — a dozen people. People are hard to kill, much harder than the movies show. To kill 200 people, like they’re saying this Bali bomb did, is pretty unusual. You need a big crowd in a small space. And you need people who don’t suspect they’re targets. Nobody in Bali was worried. The Balinese aren’t mean little Islamic assholes like the Javanese. They’re Hindus — easygoing people, everybody’s favorite Indonesians. (A hundred bucks says the people who did this bombing weren’t Balinese.)
There are plenty of terrorist groups around the world who could kill 200 people at a shot if they wanted to. Imagine what kind of terrorism the Viet Cong could’ve brought to the US during the Vietnam War — if they’d wanted to. They could’ve laid America to waste. But they were too disciplined, too cool for that. They realized no Americans wanted Vietnam, and they knew that America would see that too, sooner or later. The last thing they wanted to do was make Americans stubborn by attacking them on their home ground. So they never touched the US.
Most groups, even the ones that talk rough, don’t try to kill big civilian numbers. Take the European terrorists, like the ETA or IRA. They try to pick off cops or soldiers, but they don’t do stuff like planting big bombs in subways at rush hour. In fact, they try to avoid casualties in their big blasts. The IRA blew up Central London TWICE in the early 90s — and the total death toll was three. They didn’t want to kill people, so they phoned in dozens of warnings before the bombs went off. The idea was to cost the British a lot of money, not make them angry by killing Londoners. And it worked; Blair came in, basically said, “Fuck this,” and got the British out. If they’d killed 200 Londoners, the Brits would never have left Belfast.
But bin Laden and his people are so totally alienated from the early 21st-c. world that they want to bring it all down. The more dead the better. The worse the better.
And if you want a place where there’s room to kill big, Indonesia is it: pure chaos. Nobody knows who goes where. The government just wants to keep taking its cut from people-smuggling, drug-running, rainforest-clearcutting, Exxon gas fields and any other sleaze it can sniff out. It’s always used the Javanese Muslims as its silent majority, ever since the generals sent the gullible Muslims to run amok against the KPI, the local Commies in 1965.
That was the first time people in the first world saw what Muslim rage was like. The Javanese killed 500,000 Leftists in a few weeks. They did it the hard way, with machetes, knives, anything they had. The CIA was delighted. They had a new toy: the Muslim mob. They encouraged it, taught it to hate the Communists, used it and funded it all over the world. They even provided lists of people to kill.
And then they acted surprised when the Communists vanished and the Muslim mob remained, a way scarier threat than the Leftists ever were. The Indonesian generals thought they could use the Islamists; the Saudi princes thought they could; the CIA thought it could. They all knew that religion was dying out, and the Islamists would calm down sooner or later.
Wrong. Once you wake a power like that, it owns you. The Javanese own Megawati or anybody else who takes power. Nobody there will ever make the mullahs angry by arresting the guys who did this. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on earth, and it’s now on the verge of getting seriously radicalized whether it wants to or not. We are gonna be livin’ in some interesting times.
This article was published in issue #152 of The eXile, Octorber 2002.
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