21 January 2016
The recent Jakarta attacks claimed by ISIS represent a clear statement of intent that the organization is serious in seeking to expand its operations into Southeast Asia. Regional governments must prepare to meet the challenge head-on.
On 14 January 2016, four Indonesian militants mounted a brazen lunchtime grenade-and-firearm assault on a Starbucks Café and a police post in the immediate vicinity of the Sarinah Mall in downtown Jakarta. The general area boasts government offices, shopping malls and eateries as well as a United Nations office and the United States embassy. The attackers were killed by the security forces, but three civilians, including one Canadian, died in the fire fight. Twenty others were injured including four foreigners from the Netherlands, Algeria, Austria and Germany.
Indonesian police remarked that the modus operandi of the Jakarta militants appeared reminiscent of the devastating Paris assault by ISIS-directed mobile squads in November 2015 in which 130 people were killed. It eventually emerged that the assault was apparently directed by Muhammad Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian extremist blogger and activist with ties to local terrorist networks. Naim is also today allegedly a leading figure within the Syria-based Katibah Nusantara unit, comprising largely Indonesian and Malaysian fighters, and part of the notorious Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – the hyper-violent hybrid terrorist/insurgent entity that controls swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. In his blogs Naim had praised the Paris attacks and had sent funds to an emerging ISIS cell in Solo to carry out a similar operation in the Indonesian capital.
… Kumar Ramakrishna is Associate Professor and Head of Policy Studies in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 25/01/2016