Investigation underway in Jakarta following terror strikes; Noordin Top suspected


The head of the JW Marriott hotel bomber, who was identified as Nurdin Aziz .

Suicide bombers carried out the dual attacks on the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Friday morning. The nearly simultaneous blasts killed nine people and wounded scores more in Jakarta’s upscale Mega Kuningan business district.

According to local media reports, police retrieved two decapitated heads from the sites, which is a strong indication that the actions were carried out by suicide bombers. The JW Marriott bomber has been officially identified by the initial N; however, sources have told Detik News that the bomber had checked into room 1808 at the hotel on July 15 under the alias Nurdin Aziz. His nationality remains unclear. He was scheduled to depart from the hotel on the day of the bombing.

The Ritz-Carlton bomber is also suspected to have booked a room at the hotel, however police have yet to identify his name because his head is said to be in bad shape after the blast.

Police have determined that Nurdin Aziz carried his bomb components into the hotel in a laptop bag and then assembled them in his room, according to Detik News. The contents of the bag set off the metal detectors; however, a security guard merely asked him if it was a laptop, and then waved him through. Nurdin’s bomb was packed with nuts and bolts to maximize its lethality.

In addition to CCTV footage of the attacks, police have also identified two key witnesses to the bombings and have placed them under security in private rooms at Jakarta Hospital.

One of the witnesses, according to Kompas, is a security guard at the Marriott and said the suspect was seen dragging a black luggage bag into the hotel restaurant from the lobby. The witness told police that at the time he thought it was strange that someone would take their luggage into the restaurant, but that nobody, including security, stopped the suspect.

The other witness worked at the restaurant inside the Marriott and said he saw the suspect pacing in the lobby and in the restaurant’s banquet area with his luggage. The witness thought the actions were suspicious and wanted to reprimand the guest but decided not to interfere.

There were two other reports of bombings in Jakarta last evening, but the incidents were false alarms, and attributed to a population harried by the attacks.

The blasts in Jakarta prompted Indonesian’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was recently reelected, to hold a strongly worded press conference. Yudhoyono displayed photos he said were taken at a terror training camp in East Kalimantan.

The photos showed masked men shooting at targets, including one with Yudhoyono’s picture, on a range in the camp. SBY said that they were training to assassinate him. The photos were taken on May 5, and the two masked men were arrested, according to Kompas Online.

No group has taken credit for the bombings, but Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah and the Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad, a splinter group of Jemaah Islamiyah, are the prime suspects. The targets of the attack – foreigners at posh hotels – and the mode of the attack – near-simultaneous detonations – match the profile of attacks used by the al Qaeda-affiliated groups.


Mohammed Nooradin Top, the leader of the Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad and a senior operative in Jemaah Islamiyah.

Former Indonesian security chief Hendropriyono, who oversaw the investigation that netted al Qaeda operative Omar al Faruq in 2003, told Metro TV that the strategy and tactics of yesterday’s attacks point to Noordin Mohammed Top’s involvement. Top, a Malaysian national, masterminded the 2005 Bali bombings and is suspected to have split with Jemaah Islamiyah leadership in early 2006 to form the hardline Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad. He has not been publicly seen or heard from since the appearance of a draft propaganda video he produced in November 2005, shortly after the Bali bombings.

The investigation into yesterday’s attacks is underway, and Detik News reported that a tip led to a potential breakthrough in East Java. Police received a fax accusing the owners of a timber manufacturer in Gresik city of funding the operation. CV Almenta owner Felix, his son-in law Irawan, and Irawan’s younger brother Nanang were detained overnight and are being interrogated. The three suspects deny involvement.

Jakartans, meanwhile, have expressed outrage over the attacks and sadness for the victims on Facebook and Twitter. Malls, cafes, and dance clubs, which are typically busy on Friday nights, were nearly deserted in the wake of the attacks. “Jakarta, oh Jakarta,” one Facebook member wrote, “get back on your feet quickly. Please don’t let tourism die.”

For more on the Jakarta attacks and recent bombings in Indonesia, and Jemaah Islamiyah and Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad, see: Twin blasts rock two hotels in Indonesian capital.

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