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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
CIA 'not forewarned of Bali attack'
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
Howard: US intelligence had "no specific information"
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has ordered a review of how his country's intelligence services handled information that may have pointed to a terror attack on Bali.


I will ask the inspector general of intelligence and security to assess all of the relevant intelligence material and report to me on his findings

John Howard
The move came amid reports that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) received information two weeks ago that suggested a tourist site on the island would be attacked.

But Mr Howard said US officials had told him that they had no specific information on a planned bombing in Bali.

Most of those who died in Saturday's devastating bombing of a nightclub on the island were Australians.

Mr Howard told the Australian parliament: "Given the magnitude of what has occurred, I will ask the inspector general of intelligence and security to assess all of the relevant intelligence material and report to me on his findings."

Details about a possible tourist attack within Indonesia are said to have emerged when the CIA questioned Omar al-Faruq, a captured al-Qaeda operative.

'Warning to Westerners'

The Washington Post newspaper reports that the CIA had issued an alert in late September, listing Bali as a possible target for terrorist attack.

The warning was based on intercepted communications which signalled a strike against "a Western tourist site".

According to Australian press reports, the US embassy in the Indonesian capital Jakarta subsequently issued even more detailed warnings advising Americans and other Westerners to "avoid large gatherings and locations known to cater primarily to a Western clientele, such as certain bars, restaurants and tourist areas".

'Long-standing concerns'

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed that the United States had told Indonesia's government of its worries about possible terrorist attacks there ahead of the Bali bombing.

"These long-standing concerns extended to Indonesia and to its vulnerability to terrorist infiltration," he said.

"We shared those concerns with the government of Indonesia."

He declined to comment on a report that the US ambassador to Indonesia, Ralph Boyce, delivered the latest warning to the Indonesian president a day before the Bali bombings.

The ambassador is said to have given President Megawati Sukarnoputri a 24 October deadline to act or face a public signal from Washington that Indonesia was a terrorist haven.

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Australian Prime Minister John Howard
"We had no information of the nature of a specific warning"

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16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
14 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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