Just seven people were killed in Thursday's late-morning siege
near a busy shopping district, despite multiple blasts and a
gunfight, and five of the dead were the attackers themselves.
Nevertheless, it was the first time the radical group has targeted
the country with the world's largest Muslim population, and the
brazenness of the attack suggested a new brand of militancy in a
country more used to low-level strikes on police.
Police chiefs across the country were on high alert, some embassies
in Jakarta were closed for the day and security was stepped up on
the resort island of Bali, a draw for tourists from Australia and
other Asian countries.
"It's clear that the (Jakarta attackers) didn't set this up
themselves. For this, we are searching for the networks and who was
involved in this action," said Anton Charliyan, national police
Security forces killed one suspected militant in a gun battle in
Central Sulawesi, while two others were arrested in the city of
Cirebon in West Java.
The three were believed to be Islamic State supporters, but not
directly connected to the Jakarta attack, police said.
Returning to the area outside Jakarta's oldest department store,
Sarinah, where Thursday's attack unfolded, the city's police chief
said the rise of Islamic State was a cause for serious concern.
"We need to strengthen our response and preventive measures,
including legislation to prevent them ... and we hope our
counterparts in other countries can work together because it is not
home-grown terrorism, it is part of the ISIS network," Tito
Karnavian said, using an acronym for the Syria-based group.
In response to the Jakarta attacks, Philippine President Benigno
Aquino ordered security forces to strengthen defenses of "soft"
targets. Malaysia placed the country on its highest alert.
Experts agree that there is a growing threat from radicalized
Muslims inspired by Islamic State, some of whom may have fought with
the group in Syria.
However, they said the low death toll on Thursday pointed to the
involvement of poorly trained local militants whose weapons were
An Indonesian and a man of dual Canadian-Algerian nationality were
killed along with the attackers. Twenty-four people were seriously
wounded, including an Austrian, a German and a Dutchman.
Islamic State said in its claim of responsibility that "a group of
soldiers of the caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the
crusader alliance that fights the Islamic State in Jakarta".
Police confirmed that Islamic State was responsible and named an
Indonesian militant, Bahrun Naim, as the mastermind.
They believe Naim leads a militant network known as Katibah
Nusantara and is pulling strings from Raqqa, Islamic State's de
facto capital in Syria.
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"His vision is to unite all ISIS supporting elements in Southeast
Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines," Jakarta
police chief Karnavian said.
Islamist militants from those three countries have a record of
working together, and several Malaysians are known to have carried
out suicide attacks in the Middle East.
ECHOES OF PARIS
Indonesia has seen attacks by Islamist militants before, but a
coordinated assault by a team of suicide bombers and gunmen is
unprecedented and has echoes of the siege in Mumbai seven years ago
and in Paris last November.
In a recent blog post, entitled "Lessons from the Paris Attacks",
Naim had urged his Indonesian audience to study the planning,
targeting, timing, coordination, security and courage of the jihadis
in the French capital.
The country had been on edge for weeks over the threat posed by
Islamist militants, and counter-terrorism police had rounded up
about 20 people with suspected links to Islamic State.
There was a spate of militant attacks in Indonesia in the 2000s, the
deadliest of which was a nightclub bombing on Bali that killed 202
people, most of them tourists.
Police have been largely successful in destroying domestic militant
cells since then, but officials have more recently been worrying
about a resurgence inspired by Islamic State.
Many experts believe, however, that Indonesia, a vibrant democracy
where the vast majority of Muslims practise a moderate form of
Islam, is not likely to be tipped into a cauldron of radicalism.
(Additional reporting by the Jakarta bureau and Manuel Mogato in
MANILA; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Robert Birsel and Mike
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