ISIS Claims Responsibility For Deadly Jakarta Attacks

Indonesians showed defiance against a horrific string of violence that targeted foreigners in the Indonesian capital

A man is seen holding a gun towards the crowd in central Jakarta, Indonesia. — REUTERS
Jan 14, 2016 at 2:10 PM ET

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a series of bomb blasts and gun attacks that targeted foreigners on Thursday in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. The explosions, which erupted near a Starbucks in an area with a number of Western hotels and restaurants, left at least seven dead—two bystanders and five attackers—and 19 more wounded.

In an official statement that Vocativ discovered on social media, the terror group said a “quality security platoon” targeted “a gathering of nationals from the Crusader Alliance”—meaning westerners. It said militants planted bombs that exploded as four “soldiers of the caliphate attacked with light weapons and suicide belts,” and warned that westerners “will not enjoy security in Muslim countries” as of Thursday.

In a report discovered by Vocativ’s deep web analysts earlier in the day, the ISIS-affiliated propaganda agency Amaq said the terror group was behind the violence, which marked the first major act of terrorism to strike the Indonesian capital since 2009. Amaq said the assaults targeted foreign nationals and “the security forces charged with protecting them.”

A string of seven blasts tore through the city’s downtown late Thursday morning, near the Skyline building. The building is located near a group of embassies and United Nations offices, and is also home to popular American fast food chains such as Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Burger King. The first explosion reportedly took place around 10:30 in the morning local time at a Starbucks. Reuters cited local media reports as saying that police believe a suicide bomber was involved in at least one of the attacks, while another 14 gunmen were implicated as well. National Police spokesman Anton Charliyan told the Guardian that three police officers were among the casualties.

A staffer at the UN Population Fund in Jakarta told Vocativ via WhatsApp Thursday afternoon local time that she heard “about seven explosions,” and that her building was on lockdown. Another witness, who was riding a bus near the Sarinah mall—next to the Skyline building—from a popular marketplace, said in a text message that her bus was forced to take a detour “to avoid gunshots.” Indonesian President Joko Widodo sternly condemned the event as an “act of terror,” and urged his countrymen to remain strong—a sentiment echoed across social media. Instead of spreading fear and calling for revenge, Indonesians sought to stay positive, declaring “I am safe” and “we are not afraid” in a slew of social media posts. Local residents—both Indonesians and foreigners—also started circulating that hashtag  on Twitter to get information about places in the capital and their surroundings. “Good to know that my sister is safe,” one user posted with the hashtag. Another posting from northern Jakarta said “everything is under control.” Others circulated posters titled “I am safe” that urged people to “spread a positive vibe” in the wake of the violence. “Indonesia is a strong country. This nation will never surrender to terrorists,” shared one user on Instagram. Another major hashtag on Thursday was “#kamitidaktakut,” or . “Keep the spirit up, fellow indos :) Fear is not in our dictionary!” someone posted.


i work at Kuningan and #iamsafe #jakarta   A photo posted by Dian Paliama (@dianpaliama) on

  The attacks come after recent threats from the Islamic State, which according to Reuters vowed to put the archipelago nation in its “spotlight.” The last time the Indonesian capital experienced a major terrorist attack was in 2009, when Indonesian terrorist group Jemahh Islamiyah bombed the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels, killing eight. Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono, said the attackers seemed to have picked the location for the violence strategically. The popular downtown shopping area usually draws large crowds, and the Skyline building is also two blocks away from the U.S. embassy—and one building away from the French embassy. It is also near a police kiosk. “I am concerned to see the return of terrorism in Indonesia,” Harsono told Vocativ in an email.  But he said he will take his president’s advice and not allow this kind of act to impact his daily activity. “We have to take terrorism as a fact of life,” he said. “I am not going to allow my friends, my neighbors, my students, to surrender and to give up.”