The morning of Jan. 14 was just another bright and busy one in Central Jakarta until an explosion shattered a Starbucks on one of the city’s main boulevards, Jalan Thamrin. As customers poured out of the cafe, two lurking gunmen shot randomly at them, then exchanged fire with responding police officers. Five more explosions followed. When the gruesome spectacle was over, seven people were dead, four of them terrorists, including two bombers, while 24 Indonesians, foreign nationals and police officers were injured, some seriously. One civilian victim died the next day at a nearby hospital.
At least two of the dead terrorists were familiar to the Indonesian police. One was Muhammad Ali, caught by photographers putting a bullet into a policeman’s stomach at point-blank range. He had served time in prison for robbing a bank to finance a terrorist training camp in Aceh Province. The other was Afif, alias Nakim bin Jenab, the man who wore the dark blue shirt and Nike cap and was photographed looking quite cool as he fired into the Jalan Thamrin crowd. When he did, he was carrying out the wishes, if not the detailed instructions, of another individual familiar to the police: Muhammad Bahrunna’im Anggih Tamtomo, or simply Bahrun Naim. The latter, a fellow Indonesian, is operating out of Raqqa, Syria, the so-called capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Bahrun Naim and Afif, together with their mentor Aman Abdurrahman, founder of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, a militant group that has declared its support for ISIS, were once in the same cellblock under the custody of the Jakarta provincial police. One imagines how much more deeply radicalized Bahrun and Afif became in the constant company of their mentor, an ideologue so persuasive that he converted the elder statesman of Southeast Asian terrorism, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, to his own brand of militant Islam. Police say that it was Aman Abdurrahman who ordered the January attack in Jakarta from his prison cell at the high-security Kembang Kuning Prison on Nusakambangan Island. They also say Bahrun masterminded the attack from Raqqa, where he now heads Katibah Nusantara, an ISIS fighting unit composed of Malay-speaking Southeast Asians. Another Aman disciple, Bachrumsyah, also now in Syria, sent over the money that funded the Jakarta attack.
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