Video shows the scene after bombs ripped through two hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Top U.S. Terror Experts Point to al Qaeda-Connected Group
Death Toll Rising, Dozens Injured After Explosions at Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Hotels
By BRIAN ROSS, MATTHEW COLE and MEGAN CHUCHMACH
July 16, 2009
Two former senior U.S. officials who dealt directly with issues of terror in Indonesia say the bombings in Jakarta today bear the trademarks of the al Qaeda-connected Group Jemayah Islamiya, whose top bomb-maker, Noordin Top, has been at large and feared preparing a new attack.
Authorities are looking for Noordin Mohammed Top in connection with two explosions in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Early reports said at least 9 people are dead and 50 wounded at two separate explosions at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels, the Indonesian security minister told the Associated Press.
The bombings, in which twin bombs detonated at the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels in central Jakarta, are suspected to have been coordinated by Top.
Former White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, said the virtually simultaneous attacks and current intelligence point to the involvement of Top, who he called one "He is one of the most wanted men in Asia."
Top and Jemayah Islamiya are believed to be responsible for several deadly attacks, including the Bali disco bombing in October, 2002, and a subsequent attack on the Marriott in Jakarta in 2003. Until those attacks, the government had been "in denial" about the homegrown group's ties to al Qaeda, but eventually led to what U.S. officials regarded as a "very effective" law enforcement effort to "decapitate" the leadership.
Indonesian and U.S. authorities thought the group had been effectively put out of business, and the bombings Friday in Jakarta have stunned the intelligence community, an indication that putting such al Qaeda-connected groups out of business for good is not easily accomplished.
A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told ABC News there had been "no serious threat reporting" in Indonesia in the last 18 months.
Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert based in Singapore tells ABC News that today's Jakarta attack is "very likely the work of Noordin Mohammed Top." Gunaratna says Jemaah Islamiyah, Top's group, is "the only group intent and capable to pull off an attack like this."
According to the National Counterterrorism Center, Top, a Malaysian national, is a "charismatic" recruiter, leader and fundraiser for Jemayah Islamiya.
The U.S. Treasury Department and the UN Security Council have designated him a "terrorist financier."
Added On July 17, 2009
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