The CIA and other US intelligence agencies were caught totally off guard by today’s terrorist attacks against two hotels run by US-based companies in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta. Officials concede that they had no indication of any threat from the Jemaah Islamiyah, which is suspected of being responsible for the attacks, in the past 18 months.
At least nine people were killed in the bombings of the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels, which are popular with foreigners, and dozens are said to have been wounded. The attack has sent the city into a panic and led to popular British soccer team Manchester United cancelling its planned trip to the city. The team was to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.
President Barack Obama condemned the bombings, and has reportedly offered assistance to the Indonesian government. The bombing has led to a sharp increase in security at major hotels in New York City, though it is unclear why attacks on the other side of the planet would spark such an increase.
The Jemaah Islamiyah has a long history of attacks in Southeast Asia, including a previous attack on the same JW Marriott hotel in 2003. The group is accused of having ties with al-Qaeda. but had not been blamed for a major attack in years.