ISIS militant ordered Jakarta attack from abroad, police chief says

Story highlights

  • Bahrun Naim is believed to be living in Syria
  • A police spokesman says 24 were injured; a foreigner and an Indonesian were killed
  • ISIS claims responsibility, says it was targeting "a gathering of nationals of the Crusader alliance"

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN)A militant who police accuse of plotting Thursday's deadly terror attack in Jakarta instructed his cells in Indonesia to launch the attack, according to Jakarta Police Chief Tito Karnavian.

Karnavian spoke to CNN one day after the violence erupted midday, killing at least two, wounding 24 and raising alarm about terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim country.
    ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in an official statement posted online by the terror organization.
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    "We have been informed by our intelligence that an individual named Bahrun Naim, based on the communications ... instructed his cells in Indonesia to mount an attack in Indonesia," Karnavian said.
    Naim, who police believe is living in Syria, was apprehended by Indonesian authorities in 2010 for illegal possession of ammunition and was brought to justice, the police chief said. Naim was sentenced to at least 2½ years in prison.
    The militant then left Indonesia, and is in Raqqa, "as part of the high ranks of ISIS," Karnavian said.
    "He created cells or a branch of ISIS named Katibah al Nusantara. His vision is to join, to unite all ISIS supporting elements in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines," the chief said.
    Police spokesman Anton Charliyan had said earlier that Naim is in Syria but sent money back home to Indonesia to finance the attack.

    Promoting extremism

    A blog containing ISIS teachings likely belongs to Naim, according to an Indonesian anti-terror source.
    The blog contains posts written in the Bahasa Indonesia language on how to conduct terror attacks, lessons learned from the Paris attacks, how to avoid intelligence surveillance, how to make homemade pistols and how to conduct guerrilla warfare in cities, among others.
    Authorities in Indonesia have been monitoring the blog for two years, the anti-terror source said. He added it's "highly possible" the blog is run by Naim himself or by people posting on his behalf.
    Karnavian said the difference between ISIS and terror groups formerly active in Indonesia, such as Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda, is that the former is more dangerous because its ideology allows it to kill Muslims in a way that previous groups did not.

    Eerie quiet

    As the sun broke the day after the attack, corrugated iron covered the shattered windows of the Starbucks that had been the scene of so much destruction. Wreaths and tributes, expressing condolences to the victims and defiance against those who attacked, were stacked against the nearby police outpost.
    Many bear the slogan #KamiTidakTakut, which translates to "We are not afraid," to express pride and conviction to stand up, rather than bow down, to terrorism.
    The small number of people laying tributes outside the coffee shop and police outpost told CNN they had rarely seen the bustling, 24-hour street so quiet.
    Boni Marlen, a 22-year-old studying law, rode up to the scene on a mountain bike late Thursday night and shook his head.
    "I want to be near the people who died to pray for them," he said, repeating the slogan, "we're not afraid." He said the extremists counted as only a small group. "We must fight them."
    Many went on Facebook and Twitter to express their pride and conviction to stand up, rather than bow down, to terrorism.
    "We are Indonesians & we never affraid to (sic) terrorist," one man wrote. "We always fight anything that wanna take us down."
    This sentiment was echoed by President Joko Widodo.
    "We should not be afraid and defeated by acts of terror like this," he said.

    Chaos on a busy street

    Deadly blasts, shootout hit Indonesian capital
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    It began around 10:55 a.m. Thursday (10:55 p.m. ET Wednesday) with a suicide explosion near a Starbucks on Thamrin Street, an entertainment and shopping district with various Western chain restaurants and stores.
    CNN Map
    That set in motion two militants outside the coffee shop who seized two foreigners, dragged them into a parking lot and shot them, said Charliyan, the Jakarta police spokesman. They also opened fire at people on the street.
    Heavily armed police soon swarmed the scene, firing on the militants and looking for other attackers.
    The attackers responded by firing back and tossing two grenades at the officers, according to Charliyan. Minutes later, two more rode a motorcycle toward a nearby police post and blew themselves up.

    First major attack in Jakarta since 2009

    CNN security analyst Bob Baer likened the Jakarta attack to the November 13 Paris massacre in which terrorists linked to ISIS struck several locations at the same time.
    Terrorism expert: We were caught off guard by attacks
    Manju Gaur climbs the staircase with a fierce but steady determination. The building is decrepit, some walls crumbling, others caked in a thin, greasy film.   Flanking Gaur, just ahead of her, is a row of police officers, some from her native Assam, others from this working class neighborhood in West Delhi.A few steps behind her are a handful of social workers and coordinators from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a local charity that has rescued thousands of children from human trafficking.But Gaur -- a victim of trafficking herself -- is here on a much more personal mission: Finding her little sister.Gaur was born in a rural village in Assam. Her parents worked on a tea plantation, one of hundreds scattered throughout the northern state, which produces more black tea than anywhere in the world. (WE ARE STILL LOOKING INTO THIS CLAIM)Officially they earned less than $2 U.S. a day. In real life, it was often less after the owners deducted mandatory expenses like housing, education, and medical care from their salaries. With no education and no hope of a better life, Gaur desperately wanted a way to help her parents make ends meet.She still remembers the day the agent came knocking on her door.  She was just 14."One morning, he came to our house and said that he would put us to good work," she says.  The agent said he could arrange for Gaur (and others) to work for wealthy homeowners in Delhi where domestic servants are often employed to do everything from cooking to cleaning to looking after young children.Gaur says the agent lived in her own village and was well-known.  She thought she could trust him.  "I was easily convinced" she says.  "We're poor and live in a broken house -- without a rooftop. I thought I could earn and help my parents, and my sisters, so that we could study."She was wrong.In Delhi, she was kept in a house with other girls from Assam -- just like her -- all waiting to be sold as domestic labor.  That's when she says the violence started. "If the girls didn't listen," she explains, "they often hit them."Gaur says she was never sexually abused, but witnessed a number of incidents where other girls were.  The agents, she says, would often mix alcohol with a fizzy drink and make the girls drink it.  In one case, Gaur says the man who appeared to be the ringleader gave one of the girls a drink that rendered her nearly unconscious, and then took her to an empty room upstairs.   "She said that they got her too drunk" Gaur recalls, "and she couldn't do anything to stop him. I saw with my own eyes the number of girls they abused."(JC- WE SHOULD PROBABLY ADD THAT SHE NEVER TOLD AUTHORITIES FOR FEAR OF REPRISAL, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, TO EXPLAIN WHY AUTHORITIES DIDN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT)Police in Assam say young girls from tea plantations are easy targets. They live in poverty, have very little education, and their parents are often saddled with debt.Most are descendants of the original bonded laborers brought in from other parts of the country by British colonial rulers. They live in the same circumstances as they did more than a century ago, with the same impoverished lifestyles.Police say young girls see placement agencies as a way to escape the cycle, lured by promises of good jobs and a steady income. Instead, they often find themselves sold as domestic labor or forced to work in the sex industry.  Police say hundreds of girls in tea districts fall pretty to traffickers every year.  In the worst cases, fathers sell their own daughters as a way to escape poverty.After she realized what was happening, Gaur says she pleaded with the men."I tried telling them that I wanted to go home," she says. "But [the agent] said that they had already spent a lot of money on me, and that my family had to repay all of it before they could let me go.  And so, I had to stay."She wound up being sent to a middle-class home, working as a domestic servant. There was no abuse, she says, but there was also no money. Her employers told her they sent her monthly salary directly to the placement agency. She never saw a single rupee. She says she worked around the clock, but never entertained the thought of leaving."I was new there and didn't know anyone," she says. "Who could I have possibly escaped with?After a year, Gaur says she mustered up the courage to explain her situation to a friendly neighbor, who gave her enough money for a train ticket back home. She didn't tell the homeowners she was going.  She just took her things and left.Gaur says life in her village in Assam is still better than working for the trafficker, but now she has another problem. Her sister, Aarti, has been lured away by the same traffickers. The last time Gaur spoke with her on the phone, she was in tears saying she'd been mistreated.Gaur is convinced Aarti has been abused. For help, Manju Gaur has turned to Bachao Bachpan Andolan, or the BBA. Its founder, Kailash Satyarthi, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work in combating child labor and trafficking.The BBA has arranged to bring Gaur to Delhi, where they've traced the trafficker's location to the non-descript apartment complex.As police barge through the doors, calling out the trafficker by name, they have no idea what they'll find.  Gaur is led by police, room by room, asking if she recognizes anyone. She doesn't, and when they turn the corner to the next room, they find something that unfortunately is commonplace in raids like this.Three young girls, all huddled in a corner.  They look frightened -- and shell-shocked.  They tell police they're all from Assam, and that they were lured to Delhi by a man who said he worked for a placement agency. They say they were told he received 15,000 rupees -- just over $200 -- for each girl he brought in.  But they haven't seen any money."He told us he gave my mummy the money," the youngest girl says.Upstairs, police finally nab the trafficker, a man with a slight pot belly. When they bring him down, he appears unremorseful, insisting the girls came to Delhi of their own free will.  Later, as the girls are questioned in private by one of BBA's female social workers, they confirm the rescue team's worst fears.  One of the girls admits she was raped, repeatedly.Outside the police station, CNN Freedom Project confronts the trafficker with accusations that he was sexually abusing the girls"What did they complain about?" he says, defiantly.  "You have to find that out first."When we push for answers, saying one of the girls has made specific accusations against him, he refuses to answer, demanding to know which of the girls has made the complaint.  Later, inside the police station, where he awaits formal charges, he cuts a deal with the police.  He agrees to tell them where Manju's sister, Aarti, is working.Two hours later, a smiling Aarti appears, accompanied by police. . (JC- I THINK WE NEED TO ADD WHAT THE TV PIECE SAYS, THAT POLICE FOUND HER AND BROUGHT HER BACK)  Gaur runs into her arms, with the kind of hug that only a loving sister can give. She knows there's a long road ahead.  Aarti will be questioned by police and social workers, sent off to a nearby clinic for a mandatory health inspection, then spend weeks rehabilitating at one of the BBA's shelters for rescued children.But still, for Manju, it's still a victory. Aarti is free. They're together again. For now, that's all that matters.ENDS

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    Yet the number of dead was nowhere near the toll of 130 in France, with Clarke Jones, a counterterrorism expert at Australian National University, calling it "fairly amateurish ... with hand grenades and firearms."
    It was the first major attack in Jakarta since the 2009 simultaneous attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels, which left seven people dead. Since then, the secular government has made major inroads beating back terror groups in an Asian nation where about 87% of its roughly 255 million people are Muslim.
    "It's concerning (to have) yet one more day and another attack in another part of the world," Sajjan Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation think tank told CNN. "And one fears that this is potentially becoming the new normal where ISIS affiliates carry out attacks independently from the leadership based in Syria."

    Dutch national among the wounded

    The blasts and gunshots stopped by Thursday afternoon. And by nighttime, authorities were no longer hunting for attackers -- though they are looking for those who helped them in plotting, financing and getting weaponry, Charliyan said.
    By then, police had already counted five assailants dead at the scene. They also discovered several unexploded munitions, some of them high-grade explosives, at the scene, the police spokesman said.
    One foreign national and one Indonesian make up the dead, authorities said. Charliyan said 24 people, including at least one more foreigner, were wounded.
    The ISIS statement claimed "nearly 15 Crusader foreigners" died in the attack, though there are no official reports indicating that's true. The group said that its fighters "targeted a gathering of nationals of the Crusader alliance" -- suggesting they were going after not Indonesians but citizens of other countries, many of whom have a role in the far-reaching campaign against ISIS.
    It added that the operation was intended to "teach the citizens of the Crusader alliance that it does not protect them" or guarantee them "safety in the Muslim lands."
    Angele Samura, the security adviser for the Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta, said a Dutch national underwent surgery after being "severely injured." It's not known if this is the same Dutch citizen and U.N. Environment Programme worker who that agency reported was hurt.

    Worries about ISIS fighters returning home

    In recent weeks, Indonesian police have been on high alert, while military operations focus on hitting the East Indonesian Mujahadeen, helmed by Indonesia's most-wanted terrorist, Santoso, who has pledged support for ISIS.
    One major worry is that Indonesians fighting in Syria and Iraq will return home, having gained training and combat experience.