Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Second Bali Bombings

Ironically, I was talking to a professor of mine a few weeks ago about the nature of Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI) and he basically argued that they had been so weakened by 3 years of Indonesian police dismantling their nature, that they were no longer capable of carrying out a strike on Jakarta or Bali. I disagreed and said that were the arrests of Hambali and Abu Bakar Bashir were extremely significant, there were still other operatives capable of carrying out such an attack such as Noordin Top. But at the time it was idle speculation and neither of us thought anything of it.

Yesterday, I awaken to find out that I was indeed right after all, even though I'd gladly wish I was wrong. I see that the AP has an article saying that the suicide bombers were linked to al Qaeda and they also name two of the suspected masterminds, one being Noordin Mohammed Top. I'm wondering now if the suicide bombers were native Indonesian recruits to JI or if they were possible veterans of the Iraq War coming back to their country to further the jihad as part of the bleed back we have been seeing in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. For those that don't know, "bleed back" was a term coined by the CIA, as Director Porter Goss explained to the Senate Intelligence Committee:

"Those jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."
My guess is that these were simply natives that hadn't come back from Iraq, because afterall Iraq is a long way from Bali and it's doubtful they'd be able to reenter the country without raising red flags among authorities.

I think once the bombers remains are identifed, this question will be answered more conclusively.

UPDATE: The Counterterrorism Blog has a good post discussing the implications of JI's shift away from large truck bombs to small explosive vests. They infer that the small scale bombs are easier and enable several small scale attacks per year rather than one large one. This is a tactic used to devastating effectiveness by Abu Musab Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq group.