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Jemaah Islamiyah Blamed for Indonesia Hotel Bombing - 2003-08-09

Indonesia's Defense Minister says the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization carried out Tuesday's bombing of a luxury hotel in central Jakarta, which killed 10 and injured scores more. He also says the bombers trained with the al-Qaida terror network in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that "many more" terrorists remain at large in Indonesia.

This was the first unequivocal accusation of blame from an Indonesian official since Tuesday's fatal bombing. Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said he was "extremely sure" that Jemaah Islamiyah, or J.I., carried out the bombing at the J.W. Marriott hotel in the capital city Jakarta. In addition, the Associated Press quoted Mr. Matori as saying the perpetrators of the bombing had all obtained "special abilities" after training with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

J.I. is a radical Muslim organization active in several Southeast Asian countries. It has been blamed for attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines, and has ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Speaking to reporters on the island of Sulawesi, Mr. Matori said the Marriott bombers were linked to a group of J.I. suspects arrested last month in Semarang, in Central Java. He said the Marriott was on a list of targets seized from those suspects, along with explosives and detonators. It is thought the Marriott was chosen by the bombers as a symbol of American interests. On Saturday, the U.S. State Department reiterated its warning to Americans in Indonesia, stating that extremists may be planning further attacks against American citizens or U.S. interests in the country. It has warned Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Indonesia.

In his comments in Sulawesi, Mr. Matori said that "many more" J.I. members were still on the loose in Indonesia. An Indonesian police spokesman said Saturday that armed guards would be deployed to protect commercial buildings, including those owned by foreign companies, across the country. He said it was in Indonesia's interest to protect American interests in the country. Tuesday's bombing occurred just after midday. A car bomb was detonated at the Marriott hotel, causing death and injuries and gutting the hotel lobby. All but one of the 10 people killed were Indonesian, many of them taxi drivers and security guards. On Friday, Indonesia's national police chief, General Da'i Bachtiar, said authorities suspected J.I. was to blame for the hotel blast. But he said they could not be certain until their first suspect in the bombing had been arrested, and so far, no arrests have been made. Authorities also blame Jemaah Islamiyah for last October's deadly bombing on the island of Bali. 202 people were killed in that attack, most of them foreign tourists.