When the US took months marshalling its forces for the Gulf War, prominent American and allied citizens in Manila were taken aside by their defence attaches and told to prepare. 'As soon as the first allied tank crosses into Iraq, move house and keep moving. Have a bag ready, stay with friends, vary your routine,' one attache told a BBC correspondent. The Philippines then, as now, provided military facilities to the US and then, as now, was a porous and not entirely stable state. Bomb blasts in central Manila were later blamed on Iraqi-backed operatives, and figures followed since have been linked to Osama bin Laden's terror network. The difference this time, for Asian countries allying themselves with the US war on terrorism, is that the declared enemy is already well entrenched within. The region's governments are looking to their own back yards and wondering how the inevitable backlash will hit. For expatriates across Southeast Asia, the mood is one of 'uneasy limbo', said an American businessman in Jakarta. 'We know there will be a backlash here, as soon as one Muslim is killed by American or Western action. The local papers, some of them, are whipping it up, and the Muslim community here seems to let the militant fringe take over,' he said. 'I'm not leaving town, but I'm taking care. I'm ready to move.' Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri came out of a meeting with US President George W. Bush earlier this month with a loan and trade perks package worth US$650 million (HK$5.05 billion). In return, she has promised full support for the US coalition, but has to find a way to make sure Americans and other foreigners do not become victims of local passions. That dilemma came to the fore on Sunday afternoon when, in Solo, Central Java, members of half a dozen militant Muslim groups conducted a 'sweeping' through five-star hotels. This meant a raid by men with sticks, demanding hotel staff tell them where the Americans were and threatening to expel them. They found none, but the warning was clear. This 'Anti-American Terrorist Force' comprised members of several hardline Islamic organisations in Solo, including the Mujahedeen and Hezbollah forces, the Solo chapter of the Front for the Defenders of Islam, the Al Islah an Jundullah forces and the Hawariyun and Salamah groups. They left pamphlets warning: 'If Afghanistan is attacked, people from America and its allies should leave Solo.' Unrest led by local bin Laden sympathisers is a threat across the region, intelligence sources say, and in Indonesia it threatens to expose the basic weakness of the two-month-old Megawati Government. Although a pro-Western securalist herself, she needs the Muslim political parties to keep her job. An American housewife in Jakarta said: 'This place is just much more out of control than it was a few years ago. I don't want to be paranoid here, but if a mob gets on to you because you're a foreigner, where are you going to turn for help? As soon as any strike happens, I'm out of here.'