2003 Marriott Hotel bombing

The 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing occurred on August 5, 2003 in Mega Kuningan, South Jakarta, Indonesia. A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside the lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel, killing twelve people and injuring 150. Those killed were mostly Indonesian, with the exception of one Dutch man. The hotel was viewed as a Western symbol, and had been used by the United States embassy for various events.[1] The hotel was closed for five weeks and reopened to the public on September 8.

2003 Marriott Hotel bombing
LocationJakarta, Indonesia
DateAugust 5, 2003
11:58 a.m. (UTC+7)
Target6°13′37.3″S 106°49′37″E / 6.227028°S 106.82694°E / -6.227028; 106.82694 (Marriott Hotel)Coordinates: 6°13′37.3″S 106°49′37″E / 6.227028°S 106.82694°E / -6.227028; 106.82694 (Marriott Hotel)
JW Marriott Jakarta
Attack type
Suicide bombing, car bomb, and other bombing
PerpetratorsJemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda


Two weeks prior to the bombing, there was a tip call to senior Indonesian police officers from a militant captured during a raid in Semarang that two carloads of bomb-making materials were heading to the capital, Jakarta. During the raid, the police also discovered some drawings outlining specific areas in the city for possible attacks.[2]

The explosionEdit

A Toyota Deer, bought on July 20, 2003, from an Indonesian businessman for 25.75 million rupiah[3] was loaded with explosives and driven through the taxi stand in front of the Marriott Hotel. The vehicle stopped briefly in front of the lobby and CCTV cameras show a security guard approaching the vehicle, briefly speaking to the driver. The security guard then turns and a detonation can be seen. It is still not clear if the explosion was accidental, set off by remote detonation or a timer exploding prematurely. If the vehicle had kept a course heading straight for the lobby the damage would undoubtedly have been more severe. The blast radius was visible along with the shattered windows of nearby buildings. According to Indonesian police, one of the ingredients in the car bomb contained the same chemical[4] used in the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.[5] The bombs in both cases were made of the same mixture of explosives, mobile phones were used as detonators, and the attackers had tried to scrape off the identification numbers from the vehicle bombs.[3]

The severed head of Asmar Latin Sani, aged 28, and from West Sumatra, was later found on the fifth floor of the building,[6] The head was identified by two jailed members of the Jemaah Islamiyah group who said they had recruited him.[4][7]

Investigators uncovered the charred remains of a battery used to power the bomb and said it was similar to the ones used in a series of bombings against Christian churches on Christmas Eve 2000, in which 19 people were killed.[3]

The attack came two days before a verdict in the trial of the Bali nightclub bombers. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack and the perpetrators are known to have trained in al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[8]


Six days after the bombing, on August 11 al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, via the Arab media Al Jazeera, and singled out Australia for special attention.[3] The statement said

This operation is part of a series of operations that Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri has promised to carry out. [It is] a fatal slap on the face of America and its allies in Muslim Jakarta, where faith has been denigrated by the dirty American presence and the discriminatory Australian presence".[3]

Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an organisation affiliated with al-Qaeda, is alleged to have carried out the bombing. The al-Qaeda link has been backed by Indonesia's Minister of Defense, Matori Abdul Djalil who said the Marriott bombers had trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "Each one of them has special abilities received from training in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Matori Abdul Djalil said on August 11, 2003. He also claimed that the bombers were linked to a group of people arrested in the eastern Indonesian town of Semarang during July 2004 and are alleged to be members of Jemaah Islamiah.

There are many more Jemaah Islamiah members on the loose in Indonesia.... Because of this I am sure that JI is behind all of this.

On May 5, 2006 the International Crisis Group released its Asia Report No 114 entitled Terrorism in Indonesia. It described the events leading up the attack;

The trigger for the Marriott bombing came in December 2002, when Indonesian police stepped up the hunt for Jemaah Islamiyah members while investigating the 2002 Bali bombings. Toni Togar, a JI member based in Medan, North Sumatra, was nervous, because his house stored all the explosives left over from JI's 2000 Christmas Eve bombings. He contacted Noordin Mohammad Top to tell him he was going to throw them out. Noordin had been part of the team that carried out the Christmas Eve bombings which was led by Hambali and included Imam Samudra and many of the other 2002 Bali bombers. He told Togar to hold on as he "saw good materials being wasted".

Abu Bakar Bashir approved of Hambali's activities, and Toni Togar was selected to take part in the new bombing plot. Hambali had already set a precedent for a secret team pursuing jihad on its own. This was in part because he controlled the separate funding from al-Qaeda. In January 2003, Muhammad Rais, Noordin and Azahari Husin moved to Bengkulu, where a group of JI members lived, including Asmar Latin Sani, who became the Marriott suicide bomber. The next stages of the operation took place in February 2003 when the explosives were transported from Dumai to Bengkulu via Pekanbaru,

Azahari secured the detonators with a new team member, Masrizal bin Ali Umar. also known as Tohir, another Pondok Ngruki graduate and a Luqmanul Hakiem teacher who was a close friend of Rais. After the explosives safely reached Bengkulu as unaccompanied baggage on an intercity bus, they were stored at the house of Sardona Siliwangi, another Ngruki student and JI member. At the time, Sardona, who was working with Asmar Latin Sani, opened a bank account in March 2003 to facilitate financial transactions for Noordin.

In late April 2003, Mohamed Ihsan also known as Gembrot and Idris, who was involved in the 2000 Christmas Eve bombings transported the explosives again. In May, he and Toni Togar, robbed a bank in Medan on May 6 to raise funds for the project. "Ismail", a Luqmanul Hakiem student who had worked with Rais and Noordin in the shock absorber repair shop in Bukittinggi, then received an email from Noordin asking him to pick up some packages from a man in Dumai. Ismail obliged, and the package turned out to be cash in Australian dollars, sent by Hambali via a courier.

A book that appears based in part on transcripts of Hambali's interrogation says Hambali arranged for A$25,000 to be sent: A$15,000 for operational expenses, A$10,000 for Bali bomber families. Conboy, op. cit., p. 229. Hambali's younger brother, Rusman Gunawan, who was arrested in Karachi in September 2003, testified Hambali had secured a promise of A$50,000 from an Noordin on how to bring the cash from Dumai to Lampung.

On June 4, 2003, in Lampung, the final team was put together: Noordin, Azhari, Ismail, Asmar Latin Sani, and Tohir. Noordin assigned the tasks and explained that he was in charge, Azhari was field commander and Ismail his assistant. Asmar and Tohir would be in charge of renting the house, buying the vehicles and getting the explosives to Jakarta. Asmar had agreed to be the suicide bomber. When they got to Jakarta, they split into two teams to survey four possible targets. Azhari and Ismail examined the Marriott and a Citibank branch; Noordin and Tohir looked at the Jakarta International School and the Australian International School. Eventually they decided on the hotel because of the American brand name and the fact that it was easy to reach. The bombing took place on 5 August.

They all drove back to Blitar with 25 kilograms of potassium chlorate and ten kilos of sulfur for bomb making, as well as a pistol and ammunition. Not long afterwards, another operative delivered 30 extra kilograms of TNT.

Around this time a pamphlet was circulating in jihadist groups that was a translation from Arabic into Indonesian of an article that first appeared in the al-Qaeda on-line magazine Sawt al-Jihad. Entitled "You Don't Need to Go to Iraq for Jihad", it was written in 2003 by a Saudi jihadist, Muhammad bin Ahmad as-Salim.[9]


  • Hambali: Riduan Isamuddin, is being held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, since his August 2003 arrest in Thailand. He is accused of masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings as well as the Marriott blast. According to interrogation reports, Hambali was undergoing plans to develop biological weapons, in particular anthrax. Hambali was al Qaeda's main connection in South East Asia, and was apparently trying to open an "Al Qaeda bio-weapons branch plant" in either Malaysia or Indonesia. He told investigators he had been "working on an Al Qaeda Anthrax program in Kandahar," Afghanistan.[10]
  • Dr. Azahari Husin, a former university lecturer, was also known as the "Demolition Man" because of his bomb-making skills, and used a mobile phone to detonate the Marriott bomb and included ingredients similar to other Indonesian blasts. According to Indonesian police, "If Azahari did not make the bomb, then its creator was following his manual."[11]
  • Noordin Mohammed Top was suspected of helping finance the Bali blast and helping build the Marriott bomb.[12] Noordin is a Malaysian citizen.[13]
  • Muhammad Rais was convicted in May 2004 of violating anti-terrorism laws in connection with the attack. Rais transported the explosives from various towns to Jakarta, where they were used in the bomb. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role.[8] "We saw the Marriott attack as a message from Osama bin Laden," Rais said at his trail.[14]
  • Rusman Gunawan alias "Gun Gun" was sentenced in October 2004 to four years jail for "facilitating and aiding terrorism". In particular he was found to have transferred the money (in Australian dollars) that was ultimately used to finance the Marriott bombing. He and six other Indonesian students were arrested during raids in Pakistan. He trained at the Al Ghuraba training camp in Afghanistan.[15] In 2002 while he attended university in Pakistan, he took over as the "intermediary" for e-mail messages between al-Qaeda and Hambali, who at the time was hiding in Cambodia.[16]
  • Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep is one of Hambali's key lieutenants. and like Hambali is being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He allegedly transferred the al Qaeda funds used for the bombing and knew of Jemaah Islamiah plots to launch attacks elsewhere in South East Asia. The CIA claims he was to be a suicide bomber for a "second wave" of al Qaeda attacks targeting Los Angeles.[17]
  • Gempur Angkoro, alias Jabir, is al-Ghozi's cousin and was one of Top's most trusted men; he, was killed in a raid on 29 April. Jabir personally assembled the Marriott bomb, and the bombs used in the 2004 Jakarta embassy bombing. (Jakarta Post, 2 May)[18]
  • Sardona Siliwangi, was the first person to be sentenced for the Marriott attack. He had been "legally and convincingly" proven guilty of an act of terrorism, during his trial in the town of Bengkulu on the island of Sumatra, and sentenced to ten years in prison. Siliwangi had stored at his Bengkulu home, six cartons of explosives left by the suicide operative Asmar Latin Sani. The explosives were later moved to the South Sumatra town of Lubuk Linggau before being taken to Jakarta.[19]
  • Air Setyawan, Luthfi Haidaroh and Urwahr were all arrested in the Central Java city of Surakarta on 26 July 2004 by Indonesia's Detachment 88 anti-terrorist squad, which is trained and equipped by the United States and Australia.[20]
  • Yazid Sufaat

Al-Qaeda connectionEdit

Stuart A. Levey, the former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the United States, believes that the 2002 Bali bombing, and the Marriott Hotel bombing were financed by smuggling $30,000 in cash for each attack from al-Qaeda to allied terrorists in Asia. By contrast, the 9/11 Commission estimated the 11 September attacks in 2001 cost between $400,000 and $500,000 over two years—at least some of which was deposited in foreign accounts and accessed by the plotters in the USA.[21]

Then Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney said:[22]

Hambali went to the training camps in Afghanistan that they ran back in the '90s, subsequently received funding from al Qaeda, went back then to Indonesia, and was behind some of the major attacks there. So you've got this sort of home-grown, but nonetheless affiliated, extremist operation going now in Indonesia. You'll find the same thing if you go to Morocco, where they had the attack in Casablanca; in Turkey, Istanbul, and so forth.

It was the simultaneous presence at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan by militants from across South East Asia that facilitated many of the personal relationships that exist between JI and members of other violent Islamist groups. These include the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a secessionist movement fighting for a Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines, as well as several other Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai groups. The weight of evidence suggests that although some JI personnel might be inspired by the larger global mystique of figures such as Osama bin Laden, the South East Asian group remains operationally and organisationally distinct.[23]


The Jakarta Stock Exchange market index tumbled 3.1 percent after the attack and its currency, the rupiah, lost as much as 2 percent of its value against the US dollar.[24]

Australia issued a warning for its citizens to avoid all international hotels in Jakarta after intelligence found the capital could be under the threat of further attacks.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Indonesia considers measures after attack" Taipei Times/Reuters 14 August 2003
  2. ^ Elegant, Simon (10 August 2003). "A New Wave of Terror?". Time. Retrieved 20 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Al Qaeda singles out Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 August 2003. Retrieved 5 August 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Severed head clue to Jakarta bomb" BBC News 9 August 2003
  5. ^ "Fears of New Wave of Terrorism" CNN Television 6 August 2003. 05:11  am
  6. ^ Marriott blast suspects named Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine CNN 19 August 2003
  7. ^ "Informant threatens more JI attacks". ABC.
  8. ^ a b "al-Qaeda attacked Business" Archived 26 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine Associated Press 5 August 2003
  9. ^ Terrorism in Indonesia Archived 11 September 2006 at the Wayback MachineInternational Crisis Group Asia Report 114 May 5, 2006
  10. ^ "Is Al Qaeda Making Anthrax?" CBS News 9 October 2003
  11. ^ "Desperate terrorism" Archived 30 March 2004 at the Wayback Machine Shanghai Star. 14 August 2003
  12. ^ "U.S. closes embassy in Indonesia, citing threat" USA Today/Associated Press 25 August 2005
  13. ^ "Malaysian extremist Noordin Top blamed for Jakarta attacks" 18 July 2009. Accessed 2009-07-19. Archived 22 July 2009.
  14. ^ Bin Laden inspired Bombing USA Today 12 February 2004
  15. ^ JW Marriott Hotel Bombing
  16. ^ "Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya" Archived 16 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine The Jamestown Foundation 2 June 2006
  17. ^ CIA Report CNN
  18. ^ "THE ROLE OF KINSHIP IN INDONESIA'S JEMAAH ISLAMIYA" Archived 22 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine The Jamestown Foundation 2 June 2006
  19. ^ "MILITANT JAILED FOR 10 YEARS OVER MARRIOTT BOMBING." Archived 6 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine Radio Republik Indonesia 27 February 2004
  20. ^ "POLICE QUESTION THREE MORE IN HOTEL BOMBING PROBE" Archived 7 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine Radio Republik Indonesia 13 August 2004
  21. ^ "Terror Funding Shifts to Cash" USA Today 18 June 2006
  22. ^ "Vice President's Remarks"
  23. ^ "Jemaah Islamiah split but still deadly" BBC 3 October 2005
  24. ^ "Indonesia car bomb echoes Bali" CSMonitor 6 August 2003

External linksEdit