IAIN WATSON: In an instant, the paradise
island of Bali was transformed into a living hell for those who lost their
loved ones in the terrorist outrage last weekend. At least 186 people perished
and perhaps many more. Any complacency about al Qaeda's capacity to carry
out attacks has now been eclipsed by concern. As grief turns to anger,
the task for governments is to decide on the most effective means of preventing
BRUCE GEORGE MP: I think we're now in for a very
lengthy period of dealing with different types of terrorists attacking
almost anywhere and we really need the capacity to respond better than
we have done so far.
ROBERT MACFARLANE: It will be a costly struggle
enduring, for three to five years time but at the end of the day we will
AIR MARSHAL SIR TIM GARDEN: In a modern society which is inherently
vulnerable, we will have to learn to live with terrorist events.
WATSON: There's a recognition that
the different manifestations of terrorism will require not just renewed
vigilance, but will need to be fought on many fronts.
Sending in the troops
to chase al Qaeda from Afghanistan was, believe it or not, one of the easier
tasks in the war against terrorism; military planners could identify training
camps that could be attacked and very few in the international community
fretted over regime change - most Muslim countries didn't shed a tear
over the toppling of the Taliban. But after the bombing in Bali, the military
limitations to tackling terrorism are now becoming clear.
In the war against terrorism,
our enemy's enemy has become our friend. The Indonesian military - which
caused these scenes of devastation during their occupation of East Timor
- is now being called upon to be as ruthless in hunting down domestic terrorists
as it used to be in suppressing civilians. But even if they can be relied
upon - and there are serious doubts - the task they face in policing
a massive archipelago is daunting.
GEORGE: Even with the best police
and the best military and the best support in the world, it would be very,
very easy for a small dedicated group to hide indefinitely in one of the
islands that is so remote that the writ of the Indonesian government does
not stretch that far.
WATSON: Although the Indonesian
President Megawati Sukarnoputri has introduced tough new anti-terrorist
laws, a former US national security advisor says his country should still
reserve the right to undertake military raids against terrorist targets
without the explicit approval of the Indonesian government.
MACFARLANE: The United States and our allies
have to be quite firm in saying that if we identify a threat to us, to
our facilities, to our people or indeed to the Indonesian people that is
clear and present, we intend to intervene in accordance with Article 51
of the United Nations Charter to defend ourselves.
WATSON: But more restrained voices
say the intelligent approach is to assist friendly countries to root out
terrorists for themselves. Perhaps the worst kept secret in London is
that this building is the home of MI6, Britain's overseas intelligence
agency. It even featured in a James Bond movie recently. But the question
is whether MI6 keeps other secrets rather too close to its chest and that
to counter international terrorism, they should be sharing their intelligence
far more widely, even with regimes previously regarded as unpalatable or
DOUG HENDERSON: If the main terrorist threat in
the world is this international terrorist like al Qaeda and that's been
said by both President Bush and our Prime Minister, then surely we should
be channeling our resources to meeting that, putting much more effort into
intelligence gathering world wide, redistributing our military budgets
to try to achieve that. And building political bridges with moderate Islamic
countries, so that our intelligence services can to some extent operate
together and also share some of the information.
WATSON: But other senior defence
experts in Labour's ranks think there's a danger in disseminating information
GEORGE: A very important level
rests with organisations like Interpol, which consist of a lot of countries
who are not high on the list of the world's democracies. And therefore
any information passed through that system might fall into the wrong hands.
I can, if you press me, I can think of a number of countries who I wouldn't
send a copy of the Daily Telegraph on to.
WATSON: As the devastation in Bali
demonstrates, even if intelligence reports are spread far and wide, it's
the quality of the information that counts. After some confusion, the government
has had to clarify there was no specific intelligence about the bomb which
blew apart the Sari club, security experts say that's partly due to a lack
of operatives on the ground.
MACFARLANE: Our human intelligence collection
in the United States is in a very woeful state. It's been declining for
years and years and indeed decades and human intelligence is truly essential
to penetrate groups of this kind of al Qaeda and their supporters. This
is not something we can solve unfortunately in the next year or two or
WATSON: But intelligence is only
one weapon in the anti terrorist armoury. There's also a more overt option.
Public diplomacy is a rather polite term for propaganda. Last week the
Foreign Office increased its funds for monitoring broadcasts from Islamic
countries, but some people feel there just isn't enough of a two way flow
of information, that western governments simply aren't getting their message
across and should do much more to win over the hearts and minds of people
in the Muslim world.
HAROLD PACHIOS: In the United States particularly
we diminished our allocation of resources to telling our story and telling
the facts greatly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and frankly it was
just last September, after 9/11, that we began to pay attention to this
again. So we're well behind, we have not done nearly as effective job
as we need to do in telling people in the Middle East really the facts
and putting our policy in context.
WATSON: But influential voices
say improving the west's image requires a little more than the sword of
HENDERSON: The cause on which Islamic opinion
feels alienated from the non Islamic world is on the one hand is what's
happening in Palestine and the inability of the international community
to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis to a table and to thrash out
a settlement. And secondly, the poverty that many Muslims are living in,
in many parts of the world. In Indonesia for instance, in many different
parts of Indonesia there is horrific policy....poverty. We've got to tackle
those issues if we're to help moderate Islamic governments take on their
WATSON: Iraq is a nation in arms,
as it prepares for a possible western attack. America and Britain are continuing
to press the UN Security Council to agree a tough new resolution against
Saddam's regime, carrying the implicit threat of military action. But any
conflict could alienate more moderate Muslim states and according to a
senior military expert, prove counter productive in the war against terrorism.
GARDEN: I think whatever view
you have about the way the Iraqi operation might be conducted, even with
the best outcome you're going to promote instability in the region and
you're going to bring aid and comfort to Muslim extremists. It could be
very bad, it might just be slightly worse but it's quite difficult to think
of a way that an Iraq operation could take place and the subsequent management
of Iraq could take place, that would be helpful to the problem of international
WATSON: But political criticisms
of the war on terrorism aren't limited to questioning the wisdom of possible
US and British action in Iraq. There are calls for more resources to be
devoted to counter the risk of attack within our own borders.
During the summer, the
influential Defence Committee of back bench MPs produced a report criticising
the government for not doing enough to protect Britain from attack after
September 11th. Now the Home Office can easily point out the measures
they've introduced to crack down on terrorism, but some senior politicians
still believe the government has got to do a lot more to convince the British
people they are taking adequate steps to protect the UK from the terrorist
GEORGE: There is a very heavy agenda
to be undertaken, simply in protecting our own citizens at home. Government,
police, intelligence, security, private security, business, citizens, have
to prepare for the inevitable which will be an attack much closer to home
than an island in Indonesia.
WATSON: The Defence Secretary Geoff
Hoon is expected to confirm in the Commons in the next week that the MoD
is meeting one of the key demands of the Defence Committee, that regular,
as well as reserve troops, will be available to fight any terrorist threat
to the UK, or deal with the aftermath of any terrorist act. But some defence
experts say it's high time we followed the American approach.
GARDEN: Co-ordinating the different
elements of government requires a pretty strong ministerial push, who can
take resources perhaps out of the Defence Budget and put it into the local
government budget, have we got enough National Health Service beds to cope
with a massive disaster? Those sorts of problems are what the Director
of Homeland Security is supposed to be doing in the States. He's finding
it pretty difficult but we're content that our joined up government by
committee of different departments will work. Some people - and I think
I would include myself - worry a little bit about that approach.
WATSON: Still waters run deep.
The fact that there's been no outrage in the UK comparable with Bali, could
be a testament to covert anti-terrorism operations, but last week's atrocity
has made many of us feel vulnerable. Sceptics fear that as the government
continues to pile pressure on Saddam, then the intelligence and propaganda
war against al Qaeda may lose its current focus.