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US Discovers al-Qaida Plot to Blow Up Indonesia Embassy - 2002-01-24

U.S. officials say five members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network arrived in Indonesia last July with plans to blow up the U.S. Embassy. The officials say the five slipped out of the country after Indonesian officials failed to take action. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta was closed for several days last July after the discovery of the bomb plot, but it is only recently that high-ranking officials have begun to disclose more of the story.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, U.S. officials say they believe Indonesian authorities probably allowed the men to leave the country so they would not have to confront them. The five men arrived in Indonesia from Yemen.

Indonesian officials have not commented publicly on this latest information, but say they have been working closely with U.S. authorities to thwart potential attacks.

But the incident, U.S. officials say, underscores the Indonesian government's ambivalent attitude toward alleged domestic terrorists who may have links with the bin Laden al-Qaida terrorist network. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, and some citizens are concerned that the U.S. war on terrorism is an attack on Islam.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri has been walking a line between cooperating with the United States' war on terrorism, and not offending the vocal minority of hard-line Muslims at home. Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have recently arrested or pointed to several Indonesians who they say have links to militant Islamic groups in the region and to the al-Qaida network. Indonesian authorities say they are investigating the allegations.