INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 544
Indonesian investigators are still in the preliminary stages of investigating the two explosions in the Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels of
Jakarta on July 17, 2009, which caused the death of nine persons----eight in the two hotels and the ninth in a hospital of injuries sustained.
2.How many of those killed are locals and how many foreigners is not yet clear. The only confirmed information so far is that one business
executive from New Zealand was among those killed. According to the Australian authorities, three Australian nationals are missing,
including possibly an employee of the Australian mission in Jakarta.
3. Locally-based officials of other countries have spoken of their nationals being among those injured and not of their nationals being
among those killed or missing. From this, an inference could be that of those killed, not more than four were probably foreigners, the
remaining five being locals.
4. According to the Police, two suicide bombers had carried out the explosions. They have come to this conclusion from the severed heads
of the bombers. It has been reported that a footage of the closed circuit TV in the Marriott showed a man wearing a cap pulling a bag on
wheels into a restaurant where the hotel guests were taking breakfast followed by a flash and smoke. Security camera footage at the
Ritz-Carlton reportedly showed a man carrying a backpack and a suitcase entering the hotel restaurant moments before a bomb exploded.
5. It is not clear whether the dead bodies of the suicide bombers have been included in the tally of nine fatalities. If this is so, the number of
fatal victims will come down to seven.
6. The police have also come to the preliminary conclusion that the terrorists had assembled the two improvised explosive devices in a room
of the Marriott hotel where they recovered subsequently a third unexploded IED and some explosive material. This gives rise to the following questions:
· Why a third IED? Was there a third bomber? If so, why he did not use the IED? What happened to him?
· Did the terrorists hire the room in which they assembled the IED? If so, xerox copies of their identity papers and credit cards must be available in the reception. If no such documents were there in the reception, the terrorists must have used an empty room without hiring it. This would have been possible only if one of the terrorists was a member of the staff of the Marriott hotel or if they had the complicity of a member of the staff, who had allowed them use the room.
7.Preliminary investigations also seem to show that high-grade explosives were probably not used. The lethality of the explosives came from the nails, ball-bearings, nuts and bolts, which had been packed into the IEDs. This technique is being used by many of the terrorist organisations in India and Pakistan too.
8.The Jakarta Police have been quoted as saying that the IEDs "appeared to be identical" to ones previously used in attacks by Jemaah Islamiyah. According to them, the IEDs resembled devices discovered at an Islamic boarding school in Central Java last week during a raid to search for Malaysian-born extremist Noordin Mohammed Top. Noordin is wanted for his suspected role in the previous terrorist strikes in Bali and the 2003 bombing at the Jakarta Marriott, and the 2005 truck-bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
9. Noordin had shown in the past two signature modus operandi relating to target selection and bomb-making. He looks for targets, which
provide the possibility of Australian fatalities. He uses projectiles for increasing the lethality of the explosives.
10. Does he have the ability or charisma to induce people to offer themselves for suicide terrorism? To be able to operate undetected thrice
in Jakarta requires some local support and complicity. Who provides them? Does he have any trans-national networking or guidance or both?
What are the sources of his funding? Answers to these question are important to neutralise his group. (18-7-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical
Studies, Chennai.E-mail: email@example.com)