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Fears of new suicide terror squad

From CNN Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa


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CNN's Maria Ressa reports that al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for last week's bombing of a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. (August 11)
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CNN's Atika Shubert reports on the recruitment of young people by radical Islamic groups in Indonesia. (August 11)
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JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- The al Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for last week's bombing of the Marriott Hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, terror experts have confirmed for CNN.

The claim comes amid reports the Marriott bomber may have been a member of a new 15-strong suicide strike brigade which is preparing more attacks.

Bomber Asmar Latin San was a member of Laskar Khos, a group whose members were prepared to die in their attacks, Indonesian police told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Laskar Khos is an Arabic phrase which means "special force", they said.

The new group is reported to have formed inside the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group which is believed responsible for the Marriott blast and the Bali attacks of October 12 which killed more than 200 people.

The al Qaeda claim of responsibility was released to Arab media sites over the weekend in an unsigned statement.

"This operation is part of a series of operations that Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri has promised to carry out," the statement said, referring to last Tuesday's blast at the Marriott, which left at least 11 people dead and over 100 injured.

The statement called the attack "a fatal slap on the face of America and its allies in Muslim Jakarta, where faith has been denigrated by the dirty American presence and the discriminatory Australian presence."

Al-Zawahiri is Osama bin Laden's closest adviser, as well as his doctor. He had made frequent appearances at bin Laden's side, usually in a trio completed by the late military committee commander Mohammed Atef, who was killed in November 2001 during an air strike in Afghanistan.

In the statement, al Qaeda made a familiar list of demands -- including an end to the war on terror, the release of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and that the United States and its allies leave Muslim lands.

Unless these demands are met, the statement claims, the attacks will continue.

Indonesian Coordinating Minister For Political And Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday told CNN that Indonesia needed to improve its strategies to counter more likely terror attacks.

He told CNN's Atika Shubert that Indonesian security had not received any intelligence information concerning the attack on the Marriott Hotel.

He said the government was aware further attacks were being planned and that security measures had been increased but "terrorists were still able to find a small hole here in Jakarta."

Caution

Security forces would be given "proactive, preemptive" powers to try to combat further attacks, Yudhoyono said.

Police on Monday released sketches of two suspects believed to be involved in the Marriott bombing.

Indonesian authorities are convinced that al Qaeda's Southeast Asian arm, JI, was responsible for the hotel blast.

Police said last week that the suspected suicide bomber was a JI member who attended an Islamic boarding school notorious for funneling recruits into the terrorist group.

But an Australian security expert, Clive Williams from the Australian National University, cautioned Tuesday that al Qaeda had a history of claiming responsibility for bombings it had not in fact carried out.

"That's standard practice for al Qaeda. They will normally claim incidents internationally that are consistent with what they want to achieve," Mr Williams told the Nine television network.

"I'm not saying that al Qaeda isn't linked to JI, and they sometimes do provide assistance to local groups by way of bomb making expertise, training and that sort of thing, and some funding, but usually it's a home grown event in the sense that the local group chooses the target and does the attack," he said.


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