ISIS’s Influence Spreads To Indonesia

ISIS’s Influence Spreads To Indonesia

Last Thursday, a series of violent bombings and shootings hit inner Jakarta,the Indonesian capital. Seven people including five assailants and two civilians were killed, and at least twenty more were injured. Just hours later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, stating in a video broadcast on its encrypted Telegram channel that the attack had been orchestrated by  its Southeast Asian-based military unit Katibah Nusantara.

The first explosion came at 10:30 AM, followed by five others in rapid succession, according to witness testimony. Targeted areas included a Starbucks, the Sarinah shopping center, a road near the UN building, and a police checkpoint. Five hours later, the police had secured the area. President Joko Widodo has since advocated for calm, stating that “the state, nation and people should not be afraid of, and lose to, such terror acts.”

According to official reports, police had been aware of a growing terrorist cell in Indonesia, and were expecting an attack similar to the November Paris attacks for weeks. They had even coordinated anti-terrorism measures in December. Plans for a terrorist attack were clear: just last month, nine suspected ISIS militants were arrested with plans to “do a concert” in Jakarta.

This is the first mass attack in Jakarta since 2009, when terrorists bombed two hotels in the city. Even with the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia has never before been attacked by the Islamic State, as the public generally shies from supporting jihadi groups. The country seems to have recovered remarkably quickly, for daily life in Jakarta was back to normal in the days following the attacks. The general consensus was that, in a city 10 million strong, the attacks could have been far deadlier.