In late October, Jordan’s intelligence department arrested 11 men who had allegedly been planning terrorist attacks aimed at western diplomats, foreign nationals and shopping centers. The men are reported to have identified targets, carried out surveillance and been recruiting suicide bombers. The Jordanian government said the men were inspired by the ideology of al-Qaida. A government spokesman said the plotters had purchased arms from Syria and had been assisted by al-Qaida operatives based in Iraq in manufacturing home-made explosives.
Not long after those arrests in Jordan, the Indonesian counterterrorism police arrested 11 people accused of planning terrorist attacks on several high-profile targets including the American Embassy in Jakarta. The police claim that those arrested were part of a relatively new group, the Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society, also known as Hasmi. Indonesian police uncovered a completed bomb, explosive materials and bomb-making manuals. An Indonesian spokesman called the threat part of a “new generation” of terrorist organizations that has splintered off from al-Qaida’s Southeast Asian affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah.
The Jordan and Indonesian arrests come about six weeks after the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, and at least according to the police reports in Jordan and Indonesia, included plots to attack U.S. Embassy’s and diplomats.
Are these isolated, coincidental events, or evidence of a network of next-generation terrorists loosely working together to accomplish a common goal?
Twelve years after we wrote our September 2000 Briefing entitled “Bombs and Networks,” intelligence services are still trying to figure that out.