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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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  Islamists target hotels
by B. Raman
Of the 15 hotels attacked by Jihadis after 9/11, two were Indian-owned, ten were owned by Jewish or Western business groups, or franchised to local firms by Western companies. The ownership of the remaining three in Amman is not known. Is there a pattern to these terror bombings?"

According to Indonesias Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, Mr Widodo AS, nine persons were killed and at least 42 injured in two powerful blasts that hit the JW Marriott and the Ritz Carlton hotels in the Mega Kuningan business area in downtown Jakarta early on the morning of July 17. Mr Widodo told reporters that six of the victims were killed at the Marriott hotel, two others at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and one died in the hospital. He also said that the 42 injured, including 13 foreigners, were being treated at four hospitals in Jakarta. At least one of those killed has been identified as a business executive from New Zealand.

The explosion at the Marriott hotel was reported to have occurred at 7:47 am at the Restaurant Syailendra in the hotels basement, two minutes before the explosion at the Ritz Carlton. At the Ritz, windows were blown out in a restaurant on the second floor. It appeared that the improvised explosive device had been placed inside a restaurant in the Ritz too.

While there were two explosions one each in the two hotels a third unexploded IED along with some explosive material was subsequently found by the police in a room of the Marriott Hotel. The IED was deactivated by the police. AFP has quoted Presidential advisor Djali Yusuf as saying as follows: The control-centre (for the terrorists) was a room at the JW Marriott, room number 1808, where anti-terror police found explosive materials and an unexploded bomb. The anti-terror police squad has managed to make the bomb inactive.

With the Jakarta blasts of July 17, 16 luxury hotels patronized by high-budget tourists, traveling and working businessmen, traveling public servants and local elite, who can afford to eat or stay in such expensive hotels, have been the targets of terrorist attacks since 9/11. Thirteen of these hotels were targeted directly and three others suffered fatalities or other damages as a collateral effect of attacks of which the hotels were not the primary targets.

The Marriott hotels in different cities suffered from terrorist attacks in seven incidents New York, Jakarta twice, Islamabad thrice and Karachi once. Hotels with link-ups to the Marriott chain were attacked twice in Peshawar and in Jakarta on July 17. The Islamabad Marriott and the Peshawar Pearl Continental are run by the same person. The Jakarta Ritz-Carlton has a common employees pool with the Marriott. An underground passageway connects the two hotels that are located across the road from each other. The Ritz-Carlton group is managed by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, which is reported to be a subsidiary of Marriott International. The Marriott Hotels have a good reputation for physical security. Despite this, terrorists have managed to strike them repeatedly.

Out of the 15 attacks reported after 9/11, in 12 the attacks were mounted from outside either through a suicide bomber or through car bombs. In the two blasts of Jakarta of July 17 and in the Islamabad attack of October 28, 2004, the explosions were believed to have been caused by someone inside. In the two blasts of July 17, the IED was suspected to have been assembled inside one of the rooms in the Marriott, which had apparently been rented by the terrorist or terrorists. How did they get the explosive material for the IEDS? Did they manage to smuggle it inside despite tight security or did they fabricate it inside out of commonly available materials bought by them from one of the shops inside? An answer to this question is not available though the Jakarta Police must be knowing from the recovered unexploded IED and the explosive material reportedly found inside a room, how and where from they got the explosive material.

Of the 15 attacks after 9/11, two of the attacked hotels were Indian-owned. Ten were owned by Jewish or Western interests or franchised to locals by Western companies. The ownership of the remaining three in Amman is not known.

Since luxury hotels patronized by local and foreign social and business elite continue to be among the favourite targets of terrorists, standardized physical security enhancements have to be drawn up. The past enhancements were essentially meant to prevent car bombers and other suicide bombers through tightened access control. How to prevent the fabrication of explosive material and an assembly of an IED inside is a question, which needs urgent attention in the wake of the latest Jakarta blasts.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the Jakarta blasts, but the needle of suspicion points to the Jemaah Islamiyah.

-- The writer is the Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai.


The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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