Jakarta– The Jemaah Islamiah is planning a terrorist attack inIndonesiathis year that could be as devastating as the 2002Balibombings, The Straits Times reported on April 1. Its report is based on a letter from an underground extremist group inSumatrawhich tells of militants being trained for suicide bombings in the Indonesian capital.
The seven-page letter, datedNov 26, 2004,and written in pidgin Arabic, is addressed to JI’s top bomb-maker, Malaysian Azhari Husin, who has been on the run after plotting three ofIndonesia’s worst terrorist strikes.
The letter tells of people being trained to make the “donut cake” – a codeword for the bomb – in Lampung, Bengkulu,Padang,Palembang, all inSumatra.
It also lists the names of 12 operatives, who are willing to be martyrs.
The letter says: “According to our brothers here, the condition inJakartais getting extra tight, especially in the US Embassy and its allies’ offices. We suggest that you consider attacking places which are more open like the Marriott Hotel but to try to avoid Muslim victims.”
Mr Ansyaad Mbai, who heads the counter-terrorism in the Coordinating Ministry for Politics and Security,said: “It is a credible document and corroborates some of our findings in the field that there will be another bombing.”
The terrorists chose a letter to communicate because the Internet and telephones in the region are being monitored closely.
WhileJI is today in a disarray following the collapse of its centralised command structure, the group’s splinter individual cells, operating with little coordination, pose an even more potent threat.
Mr Martin Hughes, of the Control Risks Group, a global security consultancy, said: “JI is like a headless monster now. But this makes it more dangerous because it can lash out at any time without warning or coordination. A command hierarchy does not appear to be as critical as fanatical ideology. A common jihadist mindset is forging bonds between JI and several small Islamic groups in the country.”
* JI planning another Bali-scale hit (The Straits Times, April 1)
* JI cells ‘still as deadly’ (The Straits Times, April 1)