Aussie PM "Withdrawing from Iraq will make us more of a terrorist target" refuses to" bow to terrorist demands" after Bali bomber video threat -
November 17, 2005
Howard unmoved by militant's threat. 17/11/2005. ABC News Online
Howard unmoved by militant's threat
Prime Minister John Howard says he will not be swayed by a videotaped warning that Australia faces more terrorism attacks unless it withdraws its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indonesian police say the militant in the video is Bali bombings suspect Noordin Top.
The militant says Australia is being led into darkness and misfortune by Mr Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Mr Howard is not concerned by the personal reference.
"It's not uncommon in these things for particular reference to be made to leaders," he said.
He has dismissed the suggestion that Australia's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has made it a terrorist target.
"We were a target long before Iraq," he said.
"If anybody thinks that by pulling out of Iraq tomorrow we would dramatically and markedly reduce the terrorist threat they don't understand the mind of terrorists."
Mr Howard says withdrawing from Iraq might actually increase the risk of a terrorist attack.
"There are some who believe ... to withdraw in the name of reducing the level of risk might in fact increase it because it would be seen as a sign of weakness and a sign that you could actually bring about changes in government policy if you lifted the threat level high enough," he said.
Mr Downer says while the Government is taking the video seriously, Australia will not bow to terrorist demands.
"Noordin Top has been one of the most notorious terrorists in South-East Asia," he said.
"No democratic country like Australia should be intimidated by a fanatic like Noordin Top.
"We have to make it perfectly clear that whatever these people say, whatever threats they make, we have got the strength and courage to stand up to that."
Mr Downer says Australians do not have their foreign policy dictated to them by militants.
"This is somebody who wants to ... impose on Indonesia an Islamic extremist tyranny and he would like us well and truly off the map as well," he said.
"I understand that, but it's not going to happen and it's not going to succeed."
Police consider Noordin to be responsible for both Bali bombings and a series of other bloody attacks in Indonesia.
The footage, broadcast on Indonesia's Metro TV, was found at a hideout in central Java, along with another video that contained instructions on how to make bombs.
The hideout was uncovered by police last week as part of a series of raids that resulted in the killing of Azahari Bin Husin, the alleged master bombmaker of Jemaah Islamiah.
Noordin, who was the partner of Azhari, is still at large.
The Government in Indonesia authorised the broadcast of the tape in order to remind people of the threat of homegrown terrorists.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed to "relentlessly hunt" Noordin.
"We will relentlessly hunt down the many terrorist groups who are now on the run, including Azahari's key accomplice Noordin Mohammad Top," Dr Yudhoyono said.
He describes Azahari as "the most dangerous terrorist in the region, the mastermind and bomb-maker for all major terrorist attacks in Indonesia in the past three years".