3 Things You Need to Know About The ISIS Attack in Indonesia

January 14th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

The terrorist group the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a series of explosions and gun attacks in the capital city of Indonesia, on Thursday morning. The attack in Jakarta left seven people dead and 20 others wounded, Reuters reports. Here are three things to know about the attack, the terrorist group, and why it took place in Indonesia.

Related: Explosions and Gunfire Reported in Indonesian Capital

1. Explosions and gunfire were reported Thursday morning in Jakarta


Late on Wednesday in the U.S., but midmorning Thursday in the Southeast Asian country, explosions and gunfire were reported in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. The blasts occurred in the city's downtown, with one outside of a shopping center, and another in a Starbucks cafe. At least seven were reported dead, according to the Guardian, five of whom were apparently the attackers. There were conflicting accounts about the presence of suicide bombers, but the latest reports indicate a person detonated themselves in the Starbucks. A United Nations building near one explosion was locked down for hours.

Related: ISIS Blamed For Suicide Bomb Attack In Istanbul's Tourist Center

2. The Islamic State claimed responsibility

Though the details of the attack led many to suspect the militant Sunni extremist group, it did not claim responsibility until several hours after the attack. In an online statement that falsely claimed 15 were killed, the terror group said:

"A group of soldiers of the caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the crusader alliance that fights the Islamic State in Jakarta through planting several explosive devices that went off as four of the soldiers attacked with light weapons and explosive belts."

Earlier this week, the militant group claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in Iraq: a mall bombing in Baghdad left at least 23 dead, and a separate shooting in nearby Muqdadiya left ten dead. Another bombing in Turkey this week, which killed ten, was blamed on the group, though the group did not claim responsibility. In 2016 so far, there have been seven attacks globally either linked to or inspired by the group, according to a New York Times calculation.

3. Indonesia has been on alert over terrorist threats recently

Jakarta, Indonesia

The attack marked the first time the Islamic State targeted Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, though there had been rumors recently of a possible strike and the country had been on alert. Indonesia has had militant attacks in the past, the last in 2009, though many noted the coordinated nature of Thursday's attack with explosives and gunmen had not been seen before. Indonesians have been concerned recently about militants returning to the country after fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria.

Related: ISIS Claims Responsibility for Iraq Attacks That Left at Least 30 Dead

Earlier this month, Indonesian law enforcement launched a manhunt for Santoso, a militant leader who proclaimed his loyalty to the Islamic State. About 20 suspected IS sympathizers were also arrested. In December, Australian attorney general George Brandis told the Australian newspaper that he had "no doubt" the militant group was angling to establish a "distant caliphate" in Indonesia. The former governor of Jakarta and current Indonesian intelligence chief, Sutiyoso, had also warned of possible IS strikes.

Authorities said they suspected a militant Indonesian, Bahrun Naim, was behind the attack, Reuters reported. Naim, they believe, is in the Syrian IS stronghold city of Raqqa.