Saudi Arabia May Responsible for ISIS Attacks in Indonesia: Critic

Saudi Arabia May Responsible for ISIS Attacks in Indonesia: Critic
Thu Jan 21, 2016 15:31:04

Last Thursday, the heart of Jakarta was rocked by as many as six explosions and a gunfight leaving at least 9 dead and two dozen wounded. Indonesian media reported that around 10-14 terrorists were involved in the attacks, including snipers and suicidal attackers. The Islamic State, known ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Following the attacks, Indonesian police arrested a dozen people across the country on Sunday, including the man suspected of planning and financing the assault.

It is believed that the attacks were orchestrated by Bahrun Naim who is also believed to be in Reqqa, the Capital of ISIS. ISIS spokesman claimed in a statement ISIS’s responsibility for the attacks “A group of soldiers of the Caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the crusader alliance that fights the Islamic State in Jakarta.”

Let’s look at the attacks from a different angle.

Although the attacks in Jakarta were similar to the attacks in Paris last November, in term of tactics, and the number of attackers in Jakarta is larger than that of Paris, strangely, the number of casualties in Jakarta is significantly far less. How few attackers managed to kill over hundred people, while 14 attackers resulted in 9 deaths (4 civilians and 5 attackers)? 

It is said that the Jakarta attack was a failure, and that failure was attributed to the competency, response and preventive measures of the police and counter-terrorism squad. Police chief said “we detected communications between a Syria group and the Solo group.” However, compared to the more organized attacks in Paris, low number of casualties suggests that the decision to carry out the attacks was taken without prior planning, the targets were hastily chosen and attackers were neither well-trained nor prepared for such open attacks. Such analysis also suggests that the attacks were a message from Saudi Arabia as an act of revenge.

The interesting thing is that the attacks in Jakarta coincided with the visit of Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to Tehran to play the role of mediator between Tehran and Riyadh. It is quite difficult to digest the idea that the timing and place is coincidence.

Mohamad bin Salman

Given that Saudi Arabia “anti-terror coalition” of 34 Muslim “Sunni” countries announced a month ago by Saudi Minister of Defense, Mohamad bin Salman, many observers expressed skepticism because Saudi Arabia had been funding and arming radical groups across the Muslim world, including Indonesia.

Indonesia has explicitly declined to join the “anti-terror” Saudi-led alliance, caused severe damage to Riyadh-Jakarta relations. Instead, Indonesia expressed its intentions to play constructive role. That may have embarrassed Mohamad Bin Salma.

Given that Indonesia is the world’s biggest Muslim country, its declination, from Saudi perspective, may cause damage not only to the coalition but also to Saudi posture among Sunni world. So, it is not odd to think that the attacks were in retaliation for offending the Emir’s ego.

This essay has been written by Rida M. Harb, published 2016/01/21 on


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