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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
US acts on Asian terror threats
An armed Indonesian police officer stands guard at the gate of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday
Threats against US sites are taken seriously
The United States is responding to threats against two of its embassies in South East Asia ahead of the anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks.


American citizens are urged to be extremely cautious during the coming days. They should maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to reduce their vulnerability and maintain a low profile

US embassy statement
It shut its embassy in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and its consulate in the city of Surabaya, in eastern Java, on Tuesday and ordered its embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to close on Wednesday.

The decision follows "specific and credible" threats, said embassy statements.

The American ambassador in Jakarta, Ralph Boyce, made it clear he believed al-Qaeda was behind the threat:

"We know the al-Qaeda network is still far from defeated and we have received another graphic example of that in just the past few hours," he told journalists.

US citizens in the region have been warned to be on their guard on Wednesday.

The embassy in mainly-Muslim Malaysia has urged American nationals to be "extremely cautious during the coming days" and "maintain a low profile".

This was echoed in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, where citizens were also told to avoid "facilities associated with the US embassy".

And in East Timor, the Australian embassy is taking "contingency measures" after Canberra received threats against its interests there.

'Weakest link'

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher would not say whether the threat in Indonesia was linked to the anniversary of the 11 September attacks but said "we're all aware of the date".

A ceremony in Jakarta scheduled to be held on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the attacks will be cancelled, according to US embassy spokesman Stan Harsha.

Washington considers Indonesia to be the weakest link in South East Asia's fight against terrorism.

It is working with Jakarta to boost co-operation after pledging $50m last month, mainly to the country's police force.

The two most prominent militant groups in Indonesia are Laskar Jihad and the Defenders of Islam Front (FPI) but Jakarta believes neither has the capacity to mount a terrorist attack.

But earlier in the year Western diplomats said a major alert had been triggered by the arrival in Indonesia of a suspected al-Qaeda cell.

The BBC's correspondent in Jakarta, Richard Galpin, says security experts believe this latest closure of the embassy may be the result of further intelligence reports indicating the presence of another al-Qaeda group inside the country.

See also:

02 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
01 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
31 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Sep 02 | Media reports
12 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
03 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
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