Al-Qaeda Link Is Suspected in Jakarta Bombings

Eight people were killed in two nearly simultaneous explosions at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in the Indonesian capital on Friday, July 17, 2009.
By John Aglionby
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, July 18, 2009

JAKARTA, Indonesia, July 17 -- The suicide attacks at two American luxury hotels in Jakarta on Friday appeared aimed at reviving a radical Islamist movement a little more than a week after Indonesia's peaceful presidential election.

The bombings, which killed at least eight people, devastated lobby restaurants at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels as guests, including a number of foreigners, were having breakfast. Police said the suspected bombers had checked into the Marriott as guests two days before and apparently assembled the devices in their 18th-floor room. A third bomb was found in the room and defused after the blasts.

The bombings, which ended a four-year hiatus in terrorist attacks in Indonesia, brought swift condemnation from world leaders and the United Nations. President Obama, who spent four years in Indonesia as a boy, called the attacks "outrageous" and pledged U.S. support for the country's fight against terrorism.

U.S. intelligence officials said they could not immediately identify the attackers, but several echoed the assessment of terrorism experts who attributed the double suicide bombing to Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asian terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. The Marriott was also targeted in 2003 when a suicide car-bomber allegedly belonging to Jemaah Islamiah detonated explosives outside the hotel, killing 12 people and injuring about 150.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was reelected July 8 by a wide margin, denounced the attackers as "death spreaders." Speaking in a live television address, the angry and visibly shaken president vowed that the government would "use the full extent of the law" to bring to justice "those who did it, those who helped them and the masterminds."

Indonesia's national police chief, Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri, said that two suicide bombers, possibly aided by other accomplices, were responsible for the blasts.

In security video footage shown on television, a man in a cap is seen pulling a wheeled suitcase across the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton and entering a restaurant. Seconds later, a massive explosion fills the lobby with smoke and debris.

Indonesian police officials said that among the eight people killed Friday was Timothy D. Mackay, the head of Indonesian operations for Holcim, a supplier of cement, aggregates and asphalt. Mackay, a 62-year-old New Zealander, was among a group of executives attending a meeting at the Marriott.

Among at least 50 people reported wounded were 17 foreigners, according to Indonesian Security Minister Widodo Adi Sucipto. Officials said the injured included citizens of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and South Korea. Reuters news agency reported that eight Americans were hurt.

One of the injured Americans was Kevin Moore, general manager of Husky Oil North Sumbawa, company spokesman Graham White said. Moore was at the Marriott for a breakfast meeting with other oil and gas industry executives.

Also injured was American business consultant Jim Castle, who has lived in Indonesia for many years and is an adviser to the U.S.-Indonesia Society, USINDO officials said.

An employee of the U.S. energy firm Chevron was also injured and is responding to treatment, Chevron spokesman Don Campbell said.

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