Interestingly enough, this discussion took place only two weeks before the Bali attack.
AAP: Terrorism threat recedes, Dili embassy can reopen fully: Downer
September 22, 2002
Terrorism threat recedes, embassy can reopen fully: Downer
CANBERRA, Sept 22
The threat of a terrorist attack had receded enough to allow a full
reopening of the Australian Embassy in East Timor, Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer said today.
The decision to reopen the embassy came as an international terrorism
expert warned Australia could be a target because it was part of the global
President of the American-based Terrorism Research Centre Matthew Devost
warned Australia not to be caught unawares.
“We don’t want to be caught by surprise, we need to think from the
perspective of everything is a target, and work from there,” he told the
“An attack that was perpetrated here would have reverberations throughout
the world, it would have impacts on the global economy.
“It could be used to demonstrate a capability.”
He said it was more attractive to terrorists to act in the United States
but attacks could occur where they thought they would have the highest
likelihood of success.
Mr Devost is visiting Australia under the sponsorship of the US State
Department and has spoken to government and academics.
The Australian Embassy in the East Timor capital, Dili, was closed earlier
this month after generic threats to Australian and United Nations
facilities around the anniversary of the September 11 suicide attacks in
“We think the threat is receding,” Mr Downer told the Nine Network.
“We’re changing our consular advice and instead of saying that we would
urge Australians not to go to East Timor on non-essential business, we’re
saying that it will be all right for them to go as long as they remain
aware of security risks in East Timor.”
The embassy had been operating on a skeleton staff recently, but from
tomorrow it would be business as usual.
“But we will still be maintaining pretty tight security, including some
Australian soldiers protecting the Australian residential compound and the
Australian Embassy,” Mr Downer said.
Embassy staff who voluntarily repatriated to Australia following the
threats have returned to Dili.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns Australians to bear in
mind the general need for caution near the border with Indonesia.
September 22, 2002