Planning is well under way for a terrorist attack in Indonesia this year that could be as devastating as the 2002 Bali bombings, The Straits Times reported on Friday.
A letter obtained by the newspaper from a Sumatran-based operative of the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terror group tells of militants being trained for suicide bombings in Jakarta.
It was written to the network’s top bomb maker, identified as Malaysian Azahari Husin, who has been on the run after plotting three of Indonesia’s worst terrorist strikes.
The al-Qaeda-linked JI has been blamed for a host of attacks and plots throughout Southeast Asia, including the Bali nightclub attacks that killed 202 people, a blast at Jakarta’s J.W. Marriott hotel the following year that killed 12, and a suicide car bombing at the Australian Embassy in the Indonesian capital last September that left 10 dead.
A leading Indonesian security official and terrorism expert believes the note, dated Nov. 26, 2004, and written in pidgin Arabic, is authentic.
“It is a credible document and corroborates some of our findings in the field that there will be another bombing,” Ansyaad Mbai, a senior Indonesian counterterrorism official, was quoted as saying in Jakarta.
The letter names Palembang and Padang in Sumatra as hiding places for “the tools” of future terrorist operations.
“Indonesia is facing an imminent Bali-style attack from these radicals,” Ansyaad told the newspaper.
“The cells might be splintered but they are still being held together by a common jihadist ideological platform,” he added.
The letter listed the names of 12 operatives, between the ages of 20 and 27, who were willing to be martyrs. It was signed by Akhmad Mulkhani, who led a meeting of several JI cells in South Sumatra on Nov. 25, 2004, where they discussed a potential strikeon targets in the capital between September and November this year.