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Australia Wants Islamic Group Added to UN Terror List - 2002-10-15

The Australian government wants a Southeast Asian Islamic group to be added to the United Nations' list of international terrorist organizations. The announcement came three days after bombs killed more than 180 people on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Prime Minister John Howard told the Australian Parliament that evidence is mounting that the Jemaah Islamiah group was involved in Saturday's attack in Bali. "We would be moving, Mr. Speaker, as a government to have Jemaah Islamiah listed as a terrorist organization in the United Nations as soon as possible. And we have received indications from other countries that move will be supported," Mr. Howard said. The U.S. Ambassador to Australia says his government will support the move.

The blast killed more than 180 people and injured hundreds more. Most of the victims are tourists, many of them from Australia.

Western sources say several suspected al-Qaida members held by U.S. authorities claim that Jemaah Islamiah leaders helped al-Qaida plot terror attacks in Southeast Asia.

Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have detained scores of alleged members of Jemaah Islamiah. The detainees are suspected of plotting terror attacks around the region.

The three governments want the reported leader of the organization, an Indonesian religious teacher named Abu Bakar Bashir, to be arrested. Indonesia has questioned Mr. Bashir, but says there is no evidence to prosecute him.

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Tony Tan, calls the Bali attacks horrific. "It just shows the importance of recognizing that there are terrorists in our midst. There is no use pretending that there are no terrorist cells. The way in which to confront this terrorist menace is to recognize the problem for what it is, then take vigorous action to root out the cells before they can do any damage," Mr. Tan said. Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines have announced they are tightening security around embassies and important public buildings.

Philippines National Security Advisor Roilo Golez said the risk of new attacks can not be ignored. "We have taken note of the need to recognize that there may be some threats in the region with respect to some international terrorist organizations," said Mr. Golez.

The U.S. government has ordered non-essential embassy personnel and the families of diplomats to leave Indonesia, saying it is unsafe for them to remain.