Stirring fears al-Qaida’s much-heralded “Ramadan Offensive” was beginning early, three near-simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through crowded restaurants on the Indonesia resort island of Bali almost three years to the day of the devastating Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202.
At least 25 have been reported killed.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono branded Saturday’s blasts as acts of terrorism and vowed to catch those responsible. Last month, he had said he was worried about new attacks and called for increased security.
“The focus now, apart from the obvious one of saving lives and treating the injured, is on the gathering of the evidence, the material evidence on the ground at the two bombing sites so the police can quickly ascertain who perpetrated these heinous and cowardly acts,” said Marty Natalagawa of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.
Yudhoyono said it was too soon to assign blame, but security experts said the attacks were likely the work of Jemaah Islamiah, a terrorist network viewed as the regional arm of al-Qaida – the same group responsible for the 2002 nightclub attacks.
Jemaah Islamiah, which means Islamic Community, seeks to establish an Islamic state across Southeast Asia – including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines, and southern Thailand.
In October 2002, the United States officially designated the group as a terrorist organization.
Officials at Bali’s Sanglah hospital, near the island’s capital of Denpasar, said 25 bodies had been brought in, while Agence France-Presse reported the death toll had reached 32.
Reuters reports 15 of the dead have been identified – 12 Indonesians, including a 6-year-old boy, two Australians and a Japanese national.
The wounded are known to have included at least three Americans.
It is unknown how the bombs were delivered or detonated. Witnesses reported seeing dismembered bodies at the scene, many of them foreigners.
U.S. officials were notified earlier this month of efforts by al-Qaida for spectacular attacks in October against the U.S., Russia and Europe in what it is calling the “Great Ramadan Offensive.”
The offensive, designed to overshadow the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, was first referenced in a May 30 letter written by al-Qaida’s Iraq commander Abu Musab Zarqawi to Osama bin Laden. It is the subject of a report written by terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky, the former director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, to government officials.
Ramadan, the holiest period in the Muslim calendar, begins Tuesday, Oct. 4, this year and lasts a month.
Zarqawi characterizes the attacks as a “fateful confrontation” with the U.S. and Israel.
Details of the operation came from intercepted communications between top al-Qaida leaders about two weeks ago.
“I think that the plan for the next stage that was drawn up has reached you or is on its way to you,” said Zarqawi’s letter to bin Laden. “O God. Make the expedition of Osama proceed toward its goal … We await your orders as to the next stage of the plan.”
Bodansky also concludes that al-Qaida leaders have interpreted the devastation of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina as a sign that Allah is pleased with their plans.
The alarming report comes weeks after WND and Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin broke a series of stories on al-Qaida’s “American Hiroshima” plan – 10 years in the design stages – to detonate one or more nuclear weapons in major cities in the U.S.
Intelligence analysts and sources disagree on the details of the way bin Laden’s “American Hiroshima” plan unfolds. Some G2 Bulletin sources emphasize bin Laden’s commitment to re-enacting the 1945 attack on Japan with one nuclear detonation, followed by another days later.
Paul Williams, author of “The Al-Qaeda Connection,” however, sees a much more devastating, coordinated, all-out, surprise attack coming.
“The next attack, according to al-Qaida defectors and informants, will take place simultaneously at various sites throughout the country,” he writes. “Designated targets include New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Houston, Las Vegas, and Valdez, Alaska, where the tankers are filled with oil from the Trans-Alaska pipeline. To orchestrate such an incredible event requires not only the shipment of the nukes into the United States but also the establishment of cells, the training of sleeper agents, the selection of sites, and the preparation of the weapons without detection from federal, state or local law enforcement officials. Unlike 9-11, that cost less than $350,000, this event already has cost a king’s ransom, and bin Laden will not waste the billions in expenditures, the years of planning and his coveted ‘crown jewels’ on an attack that is ill-planned, poorly timed and carelessly coordinated.”
Other sources interpret some of the same information, based on captured al-Qaida operatives and documents as well as defectors, differently. They project an escalating series of attacks, each followed by blackmail demands upon the U.S. government and the American people.
As WorldNetDaily and G2 Bulletin have reported, al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union – including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.
For complete coverage of al-Qaida’s “Ramadan Offensive” and Osama bin Laden’s “American Hiroshima” nuclear terrorist threat, subscribe to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online, intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND.