19 January 2016
The Jakarta terrorist attacks signal the extension of Islamic State operations to Southeast Asia. The threat of an IS province in the region is likely to continue for over a decade.
Jakarta was rocked by two bomb explosions in Jakarta’s business and shopping district on Thursday 14 January, accompanied by an attack on a police post and a Starbucks outlet using improvised grenades and home-made handguns. Four attackers were killed as well as four civilians and more than 20 persons were injured. The Indonesian police as well as the propaganda machinery of the Islamic State (IS) have claimed that followers of IS were responsible. Although the intention was to cause mass casualties like the Paris attacks in November 2015, the lack of training and inadequate weapons resulted in minimal damage.
One significant lesson which could be drawn is the importance of developing societal resilience. Ordinary people as well as celebrities and politicians in Jakarta sharply criticized the attacks. Unlike previous attacks from 2002 to 2009, they broadcast messages on social media condemning the attacks, drawing attention to the incompetence of the perpetrators, and stressing their solidarity with the victims. If the intention was to cause ordinary people to cower in fear, the attackers failed.
… Barry Desker is Distinguished Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He was Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993. An earlier version appeared in The Straits Times.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 20/01/2016