- Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final
- Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again
- FAA investigating fireworks drone flights
- Pentagon: We’ll give Obama a drone strike with al-Baghdadi’s name on it
- Marine in Mexican custody to get day in court after 101 days
- Senate OKs San Antonio mayor as housing secretary
- NFL star likely fooled by Marine impostor who accepted first-class plane ticket
- Sen. Ted Cruz tweets Obama directions from fundraisers to border towns
- Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive
- Ten-year sentence for New Orleans’ Nagin on graft charges
Terrorists aimed to kill Indonesian leader
Question of the Day
Terrorists plotting to assassinate Indonesia’s president and other top officials during independence celebrations in August were considering carrying out their strike in June to coincide with President Obama’s visit, intelligence officials say.
What’s more, the disruption of the plot on Friday has shone a spotlight on the influence of al Qaeda in the South Asian nation, which is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, just weeks before Mr. Obama’s visit.
Scott Atran, an analyst who has closely studied terrorism in Indonesia, said the terrorists were “bent on a Mumbai-style rifle-and-grenade assault on President [Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono and other national leaders.”
He said the attack had been scheduled for Aug. 17, Indonesia’s independence day, but there was “some hint that the plotters might have moved things up to coincide with President Obama’s planned visit to Indonesia” in June.
However, Mr. Atran, other analysts and intelligence officials ruled out the possibility that Mr. Obama was the intended target of this attack.
“Obama seems to be much too hard a target, but those planning Obama’s visit in June were, and are, no doubt, well-versed by [a counterterrorism team] about what is going on,” said Mr. Atran, research director in anthropology at France’s National Center for Scientific Research.
A counterterrorism team conducted a raid on militants in Indonesia’s Aceh province in February and stumbled upon a jihadi training camp in the foothills of Jalin, near Banda Aceh, intelligence officials said.
Using intelligence from local informants, many of them ex-Aceh rebels who analysts say despise the Islamic militants, the team tracked down and killed Dulmatin, the group’s leader. Dulmatin had set up the training program to build a “nerve center for Southeast Asian terrorism” under the name “al Qaeda of the Verandah of Mecca.”
Dulmatin, an Indonesian volunteer during the Soviet-Afghan war, was nicknamed “the genius” for his electronic know-how and had helped to assemble and detonate devices used in the 2002 Bali bombings. He fled to the southern Philippines but returned to Indonesia after a 2008 shootout in the Philippines.
Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based senior adviser with the International Crisis Group, said it appeared that a small group of fugitives had hatched the plot to assassinate Mr. Yudhyono after the Aceh training camp was broken up. She said the plot had “almost no chance of success.”
A coalition of terrorists known as lintas tanzim was formed after several jihadi groups reached the conclusion that Jemaah Islamiyah, the best-known jihadi group in the region, had become too passive and abandoned jihad for religious outreach, and a more violent splinter group led by militant Noordin Top had no plans beyond preparing for the next attack.
Lintas tanzim defined the enemy as anyone who has obstructed the application of Shariah, meaning that many Indonesian officials were high on its list.
“The group is like other so-called al Qaeda franchises that like the brand name, but may not be taking orders from al Qaeda’s leadership,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
“It’s attracted some big-name militants from different extremist factions in Indonesia, but these people aren’t necessarily organized under a cohesive command-and-control structure,” the U.S. official said. “The Indonesians have been aggressive in going after them, including a training camp earlier this year.”
The Indonesian plot bore similarities to the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which terrorists took over hotels and killed 166, including six Americans. Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group, has been blamed by India and Western intelligence agencies for that attack.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
- Boko Haram takes credit for abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls, threatens to sell them
- Al Qaeda core degraded, but 'more aggressive' affiliates still pose threat to U.S.
- Political uncertainty and violence in first Iraqi election since U.S. withdraw
- Egypt judge sentences 683 Islamists to death over Morsi-tied violence
- Doctor's killing in latest Afghanistan attack puts NGOs in crosshairs
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Banning speech with a constitutional amendment is playing with fire
- GOP: Lerner warned IRS employees to hide information from Congress
- ISTOOK: Flying illegals home would be 99.5 percent cheaper than Obamas plan
- White House plans for bowling alley upgrades abruptly canceled
- Obama requests $3.7 billion to fight surge of illegals
- GORDON: Russia plays its own game away from the World Cup
- Islamic militants aim to take Baghdad airport
- Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters
- Malaysian MP not sorry for tweeting 'long live Hitler' after Germany win
- Costco to re-stock Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' after public outry
- EDITORIAL: Whats Obama hiding at illegal-alien 'refugee' camps?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs
U.S.-Ghana World Cup opener