Indonesia remembers victims of bombings

Several hundred people gathered at the Santa Maria church on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2019
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Indonesia remembers victims of bombings

  • Daesh claimed the Surabaya bombings and the families were linked to local extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD)

SURABAYA: An Indonesian church on Monday remembered the victims of suicide bombings carried out by a Daesh-inspired family, one year on from the attacks that highlighted the extremist group’s global reach.

On May 13 last year, a family of six — including two girls aged nine and 12 — blew themselves up at the Santa Maria Catholic Church and two other churches in Surabaya during Sunday morning services, killing over a dozen congregants and wounding scores more.

Several hundred people gathered at the Santa Maria church on Monday for a memorial prayer session and to hear survivor accounts of the bloodshed.

“I have learned to move on and not be traumatized by the attacks because that’s what they (terrorists) want,” said Desmonda, a Christian woman who survived last year’s bombings.

Daesh claimed the Surabaya bombings and the families were linked to local extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports Daesh.

Ines Andi, a hijab-wearing Muslim, also attended Monday’s one-year anniversary, which comes weeks after Daesh claimed similar suicide attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250.

“As a Surabayan who was born and raised here, I was shocked to hear about the bombings — more so because the perpetrators were Muslim,” the 27-year-old said.

“So I want to show my solidarity with the victims and hope that this will never happen again. People envy Indonesia for its diversity so we should preserve it,” she added.

It has been a long road to recovery for many Christians who make up about 10 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million citizens.

The coordinated Surabaya attacks were the deadliest in years for a country that has struggled with militancy since the 2002 Bali bombings killed over 200 people, including scores of tourists

“It’s hard to overcome the trauma even though it has been a year,” Rachmat Harjono Tengadi said after a service on Sunday at the Indonesian Christian Church.

The 56-year-old was struck by shrapnel after a mother and her two young daughters, dressed in body covering burqa veils, blew themselves up outside the church.

“Even now if I see somebody wearing a black burqa, my heart feels sick,” Tengadi said.

Tengadi’s church opted not to hold a special memorial on Monday’s anniversary over fears it could be painful for congregants.

“We thought it wasn’t a good memory so we’d better not hold any commemoration at all,” said church official Daniel Theophilus Hage.


Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

Updated 26 May 2019
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Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

  • Pompeo says US partners in Mideast need contracts to be completed to help deter Iran
  • Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, has swept aside objections from Congress to complete the sale of over $8 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.

The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.

Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for months.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that US partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

In documents sent to Congress, Pompeo listed a wide range of products and services that would be provided to the countries. These include Raytheon precision-guided munitions (PGMs), support for Boeing Co. F-15 aircraft, and Javelin anti-tank missiles, which are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp. 

Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad. Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Other companies that will benefit include General Electric, now cleared to sell engines for use in F-16 fighter jets operated by the UAE, and the US unit of French firm Thales, which was cleared to sell a fuzing system for Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to Britain and the UAE.

It will also likely be welcome news for Britain’s BAE Systems Plc and Europe’s Airbus, clearing the way for installation of Paveway laser-guided bombs on European-built Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets sold to Saudi Arabia, as well F-15 fighters built by Boeing.

In his memorandum justifying the emergency declaration, Pompeo listed years of actions by Iran. “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad,” he wrote and cited “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran.

Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, which it described as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran over what it sees as a threat of potential attack.

Members of Congress from both parties have worried that Trump is pushing toward war with Iran. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said the administration was responding to important needs from partners.

“This is about deterrence and it’s not about war,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.