Several bombs and an extended gunfight convulsed downtown Jakarta, as terrorists carried out a successful attack in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. Reuters:
Islamic State said it was behind an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday, the first time the radical group has targeted the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Just seven people were killed despite multiple blasts and a gunfight, and five of them were the attackers themselves, but the brazenness of their siege suggested a new brand of militancy in a country where low-level strikes on police are common.
The attackers came from an ISIS-affiliated group from the city of Solo on the main island of Java, a group that had reportedly planned an attack in December that had been successfully thwarted. “We have detected communications between a Syrian group and the Solo group,” Jakarta’s police chief said.
It’s of course a very good thing that so few people were killed and injured given the scope and ambition of the attackers. But after months (even years) of concerns about radicalization in Indonesia, we can expect this attack to reverberate throughout the country and southeast Asia. Demonstrating a global reach helps ISIS encourage young men (and women) to join the cause, but it also helps draw more countries into the fight against it.
Terrorism could cause real instability and chaos in Indonesia, which continues to build on the democratic institutions it established starting in the late 1990s. Indonesia’s stability is important for southeast Asia, and, as we’ve written about Myanmar and Thailand, the stability of southeast Asia is very important to the United States.