Friday, 15 January 2016

ISIS behind deadly Jakarta attacks on 14 January 2016

Militant strike leaves 7 dead; over 20 hurt; Jokowi vows to hunt down masterminds
By Francis Chan, Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2016

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for yesterday's shocking attack by local militants that left seven people dead and more than 20 others injured in downtown Jakarta.

The terror group, in a statement issued via its Telegram channel, said its fighters had carried out "an armed attack targeting foreign nationals and the security forces in the Indonesian capital".

Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian yesterday warned that ISIS seemed to have changed its strategy. He added that a nationwide manhunt for individuals belonging to the same network as yesterday's perpetrators was under way.

"Previously, they operated in Syria and Iraq, then their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordered (them) to operate overseas - France, Europe, North Africa, Turkey, and now South-east Asia," said the former commander of the elite counter-terrorism unit, Detachment 88.

President Joko Widodo has vowed to take out the militant masterminds of the attack, which was played out on the streets of the popular Thamrin boulevard, and urged his countrymen not to surrender to such acts of terror.

"Our nation and our people should not be afraid, we will not be defeated by these acts of terror, I hope the public will remain calm," he said.

"We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people."

Mr Joko was addressing the country just hours after five militants had laid siege to a Starbucks cafe located at a busy junction in central Jakarta, killing two bystanders, including a Canadian man, and injuring at least 24 others, among them five police officers.

Four of the five attackers blew themselves up in what appeared to be a coordinated suicide bomb attack just before lunch hour. The fifth attacker was gunned down by police at close range.

The incident, which unfolded in the heart of Indonesia's capital where the popular Sarinah mall is located, is the first terror attack on Indonesian soil since the 2009 twin bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in the city that left seven dead and 50 injured, including a number of foreigners.

This is also the first major terror incident since Mr Joko took office, and comes after capitals across South-east Asia moved into high alert at the end of last year following a similar attack in Paris that was also traced back to ISIS.

Five unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or homemade bombs, were found in a bag at the carpark outside Starbucks.

"So we think... their plan was to attack people and follow it up with a larger explosion when more people gathered. But thank God it didn't happen," said national police spokesman Anton Charliyan.

Indonesia has been the target of several terror threats in recent months, of late from the East Indonesian Mujahidin extremist group led by Santoso, the country's most wanted terrorist.

Terrorism analysts such as Mr Adhe Bhakti noted that recent arrests of militants in Indonesia revealed they were linked to ISIS and also learning to make IEDs.

Additional reporting by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

Jakarta blasts: Police arrest 3 suspects in raids
Indonesian ISIS loyalist, last known to be in Syria, named as mastermind of Thursday's attack
By Francis Chan, Indonesia Bureau Chief and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Indonesia Correspondent In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 16 Jan 2016

Indonesian police responded quickly to the attack in Jakarta by militants with ties to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), rounding up three suspects after pre-dawn raids across West Java yesterday.

It is also becoming clearer that the siege was orchestrated by Indonesian ISIS loyalist Muhammad Bahrun Naim with operational directions and funds traced to Syria, Bahrun's last known location and a stronghold of the terror group, which he is said to have linked up with in February last year.

Indonesian police chief Badrodin Haiti yesterday said his force had gleaned this from intelligence gathered through human sources and wiretaps.

Police spokesman Anton Charliyan added that Bahrun, 32, is also known to have control over militants in Indonesia. "Some deal directly with him, others deal through a coordinator named Abu Jundi, whom we arrested in December."

Counter-terrorism and security expert Susan Sim believes the latest development shows that Bahrun harbours ambitions of becoming the leader of militants in his homeland, and this could pose a threat to the region. "ISIS clearly has not been paying much attention to the Indonesian groups pledging allegiance to it," she said. "And with this latest attack, Bahrun seems to be hoping to prove to ISIS central that he has the ground capacity in Indonesia and should be allowed to set up an ISIS branch in South-east Asia and be named its emir."

The police have raised their operational tempo against local militant groups since Thursday's attack, which left seven people - including five militants - dead and more than 20 others injured.

A spokesman said they had received a tip-off that the three suspects nabbed yesterday had prior knowledge of the siege on the Starbucks cafe and police post at the busy downtown junction of Jalan M.H. Thamrin and Jalan K.H. Wahid Hasyim.

Crack troops from police counter-terror unit Detachment 88 then raided two locations at 5am yesterday in Depok and Cirebon in West Java, where they arrested the trio.

The suspects, aged 36, 43 and 73, are being interrogated, and more arrests are expected in the days ahead, said General Badrodin.

He added that Thursday's attack would have involved extensive planning - a survey of the location,assembling and concealing the bombs, and escape plans.

"Initially, we said there were five perpetrators but I am sure there are more because they must have had a supporting team," he said.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan plans to propose a review of Indonesia's counter-terrorism laws to prevent future attacks. "If it is not changed, we are only firefighters," he said yesterday, adding that he hopes to accord law enforcement agencies more authority to prevent acts of terrorism.

Other efforts by the authorities to counter the threat include the blocking of radical websites that propagate extremist ideology.

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen offered his condolences as well as assurance that Singapore will stand with Indonesia in the fight against extremists. "We will step up intelligence exchanges and other efforts as we discussed during my visit last month," he wrote on Facebook yesterday. "The threat of terrorism to Singaporeans has increased and we must remain vigilant here and work with other countries to stem this tide of terror."

Militant's goal: Be ISIS point man in South-East Asia
He has been in contact with other Indonesian militants, ordered attacks and sent money
By Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Indonesia Correspondent In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 16 Jan 2016

Indonesian Muhammad Bahrun Naim always harboured dreams of being the point man for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in South-east Asia.

This could give him either control over the terror group's operations and network in the region, or command of the Katibah Nusantara, a unit of ISIS fighters made up of Indonesians, Malaysians and others from South-east Asia.

Evidence seized from local militants arrested last month revealed that he had been in contact with them, issued orders for attacks and sent money.

These and other revelations about the 32-year-old computer science graduate were revealed to The Straits Times by a source familiar with intelligence matters.

Bahrun Naim has been among the ranks of ISIS' foreign fighters in Raqqa, Syria, since February last year after serving time in an Indonesian prison for the illegal possession of 533 assault rifle bullets.

He is said to be influential not just in Java but also in Sulawesi, where the East Indonesia Mujahidin led by Indonesia's most wanted terrorist, Santoso, is based.

His militant mindset was fortified after he joined local militant group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) in September 2008. This was in the same year JAT was established by Indonesia's firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir after the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror group disbanded.

Bahrun has also crossed paths with other high-level JI operatives through Purnama Putra, a friend from university. This included JI bomb-maker Noordin Top, whom Purnama had helped procure wires for detonators and firearms before the 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Police intelligence indicates that Bahrun has sponsored at least two plans that originated in the Middle East to mount attacks in Indonesia - but they were foiled by the police.

He also asked a local militant named Ibadurrahman last year to form a terror cell and learn to make bombs and launch attacks.

The cell, consisting of six militants, had plans to strike targets in the city of Solo, including a police station, a church and a Buddhist temple. Ibadurrahman, however, was nabbed by the police, along with two accomplices, before the plan materialised.

From Syria, Bahrun also started a group chat using the Telegram messenger app, which reached some 103 militants across Indonesia.

In September last year, he sent a link to a website containing a manual to assemble bombs to a former schoolmate and a militant, Arif Hidayatullah, via Telegram.

He asked him to launch an attack on, among other high-level targets, Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, but the plan was never carried out.

One shooter was former terrorist convict Sunakim, aka Afif, who served time for involvement in military training in 2010.
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, January 15, 2016

Singapore, Malaysia raise alert levels
The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2016

Singapore and Malaysia have stepped up their alert levels, while officials from the Philippines told the public to be extra vigilant in the wake of the Jakarta terror attack yesterday.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said the incident was another sombre reminder that such attacks can happen in Singapore, adding that "everyone in the community must play their part by being vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious behaviour or persons to the authorities".

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and strongly condemned the attack.

Just wrote to Presiden Joko Widodo to convey my deepest condolences on the terror attacks in Central Jakarta. Singapore...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Malaysian police said they are on the highest alert and have increased security measures at public places such as shopping malls and tourist spots.

The office of Philippine President Benigno Aquino urged the public to "exercise heightened vigilance" in support of the country's security forces.

Shocked and dismayed by news of the bomb attacks in Jakarta today. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contacting...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Heightened VigilanceThe SAF has implemented heightened security measures in view of the multiple attacks in Jakarta....
Posted by The Singapore Army on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Singapore watching developments with concern: DPM Teo
Top leaders send condolences to their Indonesian counterparts
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2016

Singapore has stepped up security in the wake of the bomb attacks in Jakarta yesterday and is watching the developments with concern, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said.

Mr Teo, who is Coordinating Minister for National Security, was also among Singapore's top leaders who sent condolences to their Indonesian counterparts, expressing sympathy for the loss of lives and injuries caused.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in their letters to President Joko Widodo, strongly condemned the attacks in and around a Starbucks cafe near the Sarinah shopping mall. Both said they were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the terror attacks, which the Indonesian authorities said were by a group of men linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the multiple explosions in Central Jakarta which resulted in the tragic...
Posted by Dr Tony Tan on Thursday, January 14, 2016

The blasts are a "heinous act of terrorism", said Dr Tan as he offered condolences, on behalf of the people of Singapore, to the families of those who died.

PM Lee also expressed deepest condolences, on behalf of Singaporeans and the Government, to the victims and their families.

He added: "Singapore stands in solidarity with the people of Indonesia. I am confident that the Indonesian government will be able to deal with the situation decisively.

"Singapore gives its full support to the Indonesian government's efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Called my Indon counterpart Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan this pm to...
Posted by Teo Chee Hean on Thursday, January 14, 2016

DPM Teo said he called his Indonesian counterpart, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, to convey his condolences to the families of those who died in the blasts.

"As close neighbours and friends, we are saddened by the loss of lives and injuries," he said in a Facebook post. "We also agreed to enhance cooperation for the security of our two countries."

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also conveyed his condolences to his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said Singaporeans are grieving with their Indonesian friends, and added: "May the perpetrators be swiftly brought to justice and be held accountable for their actions, and for all of us to be spared such senseless acts of violence."

The Workers' Party also strongly condemned the attacks. It said it fully supports the Government's assistance to Indonesia.

We are saddened and shocked to learn about the senseless attacks in Jakarta. Our thoughts are with the families of the...
Posted by Home Team News (Singapore) on Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Ministry of Home Affairs said the incident was another sombre reminder that such attacks can happen in Singapore.

"Our security and intelligence agencies have enhanced their checks and are in touch with their Indonesian counterparts on their investigations into the attacks.

"But everyone in the community must play their part by being vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious behaviour or persons to the authorities," a ministry spokesman said.

"If an attack happens here, we must respond decisively as one community. Remain united so that any attempt to cause fear and distrust in the community will not succeed. We must be able to recover quickly and emerge stronger as one people," the spokesman added.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing wrote on Facebook that the attacks brought back memories of the spate of bombings in Indonesia in the early 2000s, when he was an army attache at the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta.

The latest attacks are also a grim reminder of the continuing terror threat, he said, adding: "Let us not let the terrorists rob us of our normalcy or split our societies."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said it had contacted the majority of registered Singaporeans in Jakarta and ascertained their safety. It also advised those residing in and travelling to Jakarta to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions for their personal safety.

Singaporeans who are heading to Indonesia can register at They can also contact the embassy on +62 811 863 348 or the MFA 24-hour duty office on 6379-8800/55.

“Each one of us is now responsible for security”: Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Sc on the need for community vigilance in the wake of the #JakartaBlasts. Justin Ong)
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, January 15, 2016

In his opening address to the 13th #Parliament of Singapore, President Tony Tan highlighted the importance of being on guard against a terror attack. Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Sc explains how the threat of terrorism has evolved since 9/11. Justin Ong)
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, January 15, 2016

Singapore and Indonesia to step up intelligence exchange: Ng Eng Hen
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2016

Singapore will step up intelligence exchanges and other efforts to counter extremists with Indonesia, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Friday (Jan 15).

Dr Ng said that he wrote to his Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu to offer Singapore's condolences for a terrorist attack in Jakarta on Thursday which killed seven.

He also gave him assurance that Singapore stands with Indonesia in the global fight against extremism.

<<No country is safe>>Paris, Istanbul, now Jakarta. These acts of terror tell us that no country is safe from...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Thursday, January 14, 2016

He wrote on Facebook: "We will step up intelligence exchanges and other efforts as we discussed during my visit last month."

In his letter to Mr Ryamizard, Dr Ng said that they discussed this specific threat and committed to boost intelligence exchanges and other collaborative efforts between the two countries.

He added that both countries have long co-operated in many areas, including counter-terrorism.

Dr Ng ended his letter with an offer of assistance.

"Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything further that the Mindef and the SAF can do to help," he wrote.

Security presence stepped up in Singapore
By Lim Yi Han, The Straits Times, 16 Jan 2016

There were signs of more armed officers in crowded places like MRT stations and shopping malls here yesterday, in the wake of the terror attack in Jakarta on Thursday.

Ms Tan Peih Ling, 27, who owns a shop in Bugis Street, said she saw about five officers armed with rifles patrolling Bugis MRT station and outside Bugis Junction mall at around noon yesterday.

"It's good that they are enhancing security here as it is quite crowded and a touristy area. People will feel more secure," she said.

At Parliament House yesterday, where MPs were sworn in and President Tony Tan Keng Yam addressed the 13th Parliament, there also seemed to be increased police presence, with a number of police vehicles in the area.

Freelance videographer Eddy Han, 31, who was in the vicinity of Parliament House yesterday evening, said: "There were many police officers patrolling around The Arts House and Asian Civilisations Museum. I feel that it's safer with their presence, so I hope they can keep up with this."

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Thursday that security and intelligence agencies have enhanced their checks. Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean also said on Facebook that security measures here have been stepped up.

Singapore Airlines and Tigerair also advised passengers travelling to and from Jakarta to plan ahead and arrive early at the airport, in view of the enhanced security screening.

Entrepreneur Keith Tan, 27, who left for Bangkok yesterday morning, said: "We didn't see anything out of the ordinary at Changi Airport, but it's always good to remain alert given that the Jakarta attack happened so close to home.

"We don't mind being subjected to more checks if it's for everyone's safety."

Jakarta blasts: Witnesses recall chaos as terror unfolds
Drama played out on the streets and on TV screens, with at least six blasts and a gunfight
The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2016

JAKARTA • Witnesses spoke of pandemonium breaking out after powerful blasts ripped through downtown Jakarta yesterday.

At least one gunman fired repeatedly at bystanders, reloading his weapon as police officers flooded the streets, according to some.

Mr Ruli Koestaman, 32, was in a nearby building when the attack started in mid-morning.

"Then I heard a loud bang, boom. It felt like an earthquake. We all went downstairs," he said.

"We saw that the Starbucks downstairs was destroyed too. I saw a foreigner - Westerner, a man - with a mangled hand but alive.

"A Starbucks waiter then ran out with blood coming out of his ear. And I asked 'anyone hurt inside?', he said yes, one. Dead already.

"Then everybody gathered and a terrorist appeared. He had a gun and started shooting at us and then at Starbucks. Then the police post... exploded."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a United Nations employee had been confirmed to be among the critically injured in the attacks in central Jakarta.

Dutch native Johan Kieft, head of a Green Economy Unit, was in Starbucks during the explosions when he was apparently shot.

The drama played out on the streets and on television screens yesterday morning, with at least six explosions and a gunfight in a movie theatre.

Graphic photographs from the scene showed bloodied bodies - believed to be of two men in civilian clothes - lying by the side of a road next to the wrecked police post.

Another body, apparently also male, was lying in the centre of the street while yet another, almost naked, could be seen nearby.

"The Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road," said Reuters photographer Darren Whiteside, as the attack unfolded.

"There has been a lull in the shooting, but someone is on the roof of the building and police are aiming their guns at him," he added.

UN employee describes moment of explosions
JUST IN: CNN speaks to United Nations employee in lockdown at the scene of multiple deadly explosions in #Jakarta. Developing story:
Posted by CNN International on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mr Jeremy Douglas, a UN official based in Bangkok, said he heard explosions as his car was pulling into the building housing the agency's offices. The building was later put on lockdown.

"The driver got a call that something happened at the building," he said by telephone.

"I got out of the car, and an explosion went off behind the building. I could feel it."

Mr Douglas, the regional representative for South-east Asia and the Pacific for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he sought refuge in the offices and heard more explosions from there, as well as gunfire.

"It sounds very close," he said.

Yesterday's blasts were the first major attack in Jakarta since the twin bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in 2009.

Ms Wenny Astaria, a 26-year-old student in Jakarta, expressed grief over the tragedy but said she was confident in the local government and police.

"I'm not scared, Jakarta is still a safe place," she was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.


Jakarta blasts: Sign of things to come for the region?
Experts fear it may mean the beginning of more terror attacks
By Francis Chan, Indonesia Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2016

Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population but, as recent attacks in Turkey and Pakistan have shown, that matters little to members and supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.

Indonesian police fingered local militants with ties to ISIS as the perpetrators of yesterday's attack on a busy downtown area in central Jakarta that left seven dead and more than 20 injured.

Hours later, ISIS publicly claimed responsibility for the siege.

The attack comes just weeks after the country was put on high alert after its intelligence agencies picked up chatter of an impending attack in its capital city.

Thousands of police and military officers were deployed to secure the country over the Christmas and New Year weekends. Another 2,000 personnel were sent to the jungles and mountainous areas of Poso in Central Sulawesi to hunt down the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) group led by Santoso, the country's most wanted terrorist.

Yesterday's attack also follows a series of arrests from an extended nationwide counter-terrorism campaign against groups like the MIT.

Security experts say Indonesia's tough stand against extremist groups is one reason that it remains a target of local militants and this is not limited to those linked to ISIS.

Jakarta has seen over a dozen terrorist attacks in the past 15 years, carried out mostly by extremists with ties to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI). That yesterday's attack took place just two days after influential cleric Abu Bakar Bashir made his first public appearance in court in five years was not lost on observers.

Though JI's capabilities have been significantly diminished in recent years, some of its militants may still be capable of carrying out an attack.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri recently also declared that South-east Asia, with its strong ties to the West, was ripe for attacks, particular against Western targets in their cities that typically have secular governments.

Indeed, yesterday's attackers struck during the busy lunch hour at a junction notorious for heavy traffic on weekdays. The junction of Jalan M.H. Thamrin and Jalan Wahid Hasyim is close to various ministries, shopping malls and eateries, and only a short drive away from the United States Embassy and a United Nations office.

Counter-terrorism and security expert Susan Sim says the capacity and will to kill has always been there among those who see themselves as jihadis in Indonesia.

"That capacity was degraded when JI bomb-maker Noordin Top was killed after the 2009 attacks (on Jakarta hotels), but others stepped up to inherit his mantle, the longest-surviving terrorist leader in Indonesia thus far being Santoso," she added. "And he's been attracting wannabe jihadis who decry JI as all talk, no action because JI has been focusing on building up its capacity."

The MIT has mounted several attacks on police officers in Poso and attempted to blow up churches and mosques in Central Java in the past few years, even before ISIS gained prominence in the region.

Ms Sim, a former intelligence analyst and now a vice-president (Asia) at New York-based The Soufan Group, said that while ISIS seems happy to claim credit for yesterday's attack, it is still unclear if the latest siege on Jakarta had been directed by ISIS in any way.

She also said that it remains to be seen if any of the perpetrators were Indonesians who had returned from fighting in Syria.

Estimates from security agencies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines show that at least 900 from all four countries have travelled to join ISIS in Syria. Most of them - about 700 - are from Indonesia, though some agencies have published lower numbers.

Indonesia's National Intelligence Agency has been tracking at least 100 citizens said to have returned from the Middle East after joining ISIS, while its counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 has been running surveillance on 60 to 70 of these returnees to date.

Terrorism analyst Adhe Bahkti believes that these returning fighters will continue to pose a clear and present danger over the long term. "If their jihad in the Middle East is successful, they would be a threat to Indonesia; but if they fail and return home, they would be an even greater threat as they would want to express their anger back home."

Experts say yesterday's attack may just be a sign of things to come, not just for Indonesia but also for the region.

"The threat from ISIS is far more real than we thought," said Mr Adhe. "The attack tells us we don't have to wait for years for Indonesian ISIS militants who have returned home to strike," he added.

Ms Sim says the Thamrin incident will draw the attention of ISIS to the militant groups in Indonesia, which have been pledging allegiance only to be ignored. All this means that the attack in Jakarta may just be the beginning of more attacks to come in this region.

How bad is it?
Posted by The Diplomat Magazine on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hundreds of Indonesians who have fought for ISIS have been allowed to freely return home.
Posted by TIME on Friday, January 15, 2016

ASEAN Member States have condemned the terrorist attack that took place in Jakarta yesterday. ASEAN also conveyed its...
Posted by ASEAN on Friday, January 15, 2016

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