The American Kafir

2011/03/16

Jakarta Book Bombs and Militant Decline

Filed under: Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiya, Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Islam — Tags: — - @ 4:54 pm

Source Link: Stratfor

Jakarta Book Bombs Show Militant Decline
ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images
Police bomb personnel inspect the site where a book containing a bomb exploded in Jakarta on March 15

Three explosive devices were sent to two moderate Islamist politician-activists and a former counterterrorism commander in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 15.

The shoddy design of the devices most likely highlights the decline of Indonesian militant capabilities.

The devices reportedly were placed inside hollowed-out books with an accompanying letter asking the target to write a foreword for the book. They apparently were set to detonate when the book was opened. Initial reports indicate the devices were quite crude. The books in which the devices were hidden had titles, such as “They Must Be Killed,” that would have stood out to the target. In addition, at least one of the devices was found to be explosive due to wires protruding from the book.

Though crude, the devices still were dangerous. Two were safely defused, but the third exploded as a police officer and other security personnel worked to defuse it, costing one officer a hand and wounding three to four security personnel with shrapnel. This highlights the risks for police who fail to adhere to proper bomb disposal procedures. The officers involved should have evacuated the area, secured the perimeter around the device, begun questioning witnesses, and waited for a trained bomb squad to arrive to detonate the device, rather than attempt to defuse it themselves.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility yet, but the target set suggests Indonesian jihadists were responsible. Indeed, the incident bears the hallmarks of an Indonesian militant group, though a poorly trained lone wolf could be to blame. If in fact a jihadist organization was responsible, the shoddy manner with which the bombs were made suggests a substantial decline in Indonesian militants’ operational acumen.

Indonesia’s main jihadist group, Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and its radical splinter group, Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad, have a history of sophisticated suicide and car bomb attacks. In October 2002, an attack in Bali killed 202 people, while in August 2003 an attack at the Jakarta Marriot killed 12. Suicide bombings in 2005 claimed the lives of 26 at resorts in Bali. In addition, the Jakarta Ritz Carlton hotel and the Marriot came under attack two years ago by suspected JI operatives, killing seven.

The police have had some notable success in killing or arresting senior jihadist leaders, however. This has impacted the jihadists’ operational ability. The ongoing trial of Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the founder of JI and an influential leader within the Indonesian jihadist movement, has garnered attention across Indonesia. Militants could have carried out the attack to show that they are still relevant, despite their leaders’ being on trial. Authorities have thus been investigating whether these devices had any connection to the ongoing Bashir trial.

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