The National Police's elite anti-terror unit Densus 88 in action. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Iqbal)

Police Link Mall Toilet Blast to Islamist Terrorists

JULY 11, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesian police have blamed Islamist radicals for a low-powered explosive that detonated in the toilet of a mall on the outskirts of Jakarta on Thursday that mirrored a blast at another mall in February.

CCTV footage showed a man walking into the toilet at the ground floor of the Alam Sutera mall, on the western outskirts of the capital, carrying a bag and exiting shortly before the blast occurred.

“We’ve got the CCTV [recording] and also an idea [of who the suspect might be],” Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, the chief of the Jakarta Police, told reporters on Saturday. “But we can’t disclose any more information pending the investigation.”

Tito, who previously headed the police’s elite counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, said it was likely that radicals linked to the Islamic State were behind the blast, in which no one was injured.

“This is something we’re looking into, whether there’s a connection with the Islamic State’s fatwa” on conducting jihad during the holy month of Ramadan, Tito said.

He added it was unlikely that the bomb was the work of homegrown terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, saying the explosion did not carry the usual JI signatures.

“JI is a remote possibility because they’ve never targeted the general public. Their targets have always been Western ones,” Tito said. “And in terms of the explosive, their bombs are more sophisticated, more advanced.”

Instead, he said, the Alam Sutera blast bore similar hallmarks to the low-powered detonation of a chlorine bomb at the ITC Depok on the southern outskirts of Jakarta on Feb. 23.

That incident, Tito said at the time, was the first known use in Indonesia of a chlorine bomb, which has been used extensively by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. No one was injured in the Depok blast.

Police blamed the Depok incident on Indonesians who had returned from fighting alongside Islamic State in Syria, although they have still not named any suspects in the case.