Analysis: Jakarta attacks an Isis attempt to emulate Paris

The brazenness of the suicide attack indicates a new level of militancy in Indonesia

People, including unarmed police officers, flee from the scene after a gun battle broke out following an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday which killed seven people. Photograph: AP

People, including unarmed police officers, flee from the scene after a gun battle broke out following an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday which killed seven people. Photograph: AP

 

Driving into the Grand Hyatt hotel in Jakarta, metres from where Islamic State bombers launched a suicide attack on a Starbucks and Sarinah’s shopping mall that killed and wounded locals and tourists alike, the security is intense.

Mirrors on sticks are used to check under the car, then your luggage is searched, then you have to go through airport-style security to get into the hotel. The brazenness of the attack indicates a new level of militancy in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, so in some ways it was only a matter of time before the radicals came back and wreaked havoc.

Nerves are jangled in this bustling southeast Asian city, which has seen numerous Islamist attacks over the years, but there is fear that Islamic State, also known as Isis, has ratcheted up things.

Concert in Indonesia

Then came confirmation. Islamic State said it was behind the attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of the city, the first time the radical group has targeted Jakarta, but not the first time Muslim extremists have targeted the Indonesian capital.

The fact that the attack took place downtown near a Starbucks cafe and Sarinah’s, an older mall more popular with locals than tourists, killing seven people including five attackers, has spread fear in this city of nearly 10 million people.

Numerous attacks

One of the most dangerous militant groups in Indonesia is Jemaah Islamiyah, which was believed to have masterminded the Bali bombings and the 2004 truck bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta that killed 11. In 2009, two suicide bombers checked into the JW Marriott Hotel and the Ritz Carlton and carried out co-ordinated bombings, killing themselves and at least six victims and wounding more than 50 others.

Indonesia has been active in combating terrorism in the region, setting up a counter-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, that launched raids across the archipelago following the discovery of a militant Islamist training camp in Aceh. One of the most famous terrorists in Indonesia was Noordin Mohammad Top, a Malaysian- born militant killed by police during a raid in central Javas.