Jakarta attacks: Did other terrorists escape?

Natashya Gutierrez
Jakarta attacks: Did other terrorists escape?


(UPDATED) Conflicting statements from government officials sow confusion on what exactly happened on the morning of January 14 when a series of bombs went off in the Indonesian capital, including how many terrorists were involved

JAKARTA, Indonesia (UPDATED) – How many terrorists were really involved in the attacks in Jakarta that left 7 people dead? And did some escape?

In a span of 4 days, the police have changed their count of perpetrators from 6, to 5 and finally to 4 – after only 4 of the 7 who died on the scene were identified as terrorists.

The first count came on Thursday, January 14, about 4 hours after a series of explosions rocked the Indonesian capital. Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan told reporters there were 5 terrorists, all of whom died during the attacks.

He also said the quick-acting police were able to stop the terrorists from causing more damage.

For the rest of the day, media reported 7 killed – 5 terrorists, and 2 civilians.

But a police on the scene had a different count.

Krishna Murti, a policeman who used to work for the United Nations Police in New York and current Director of Jakarta Metropolitan Police CID, tweeted about an hour after Luhut’s statement, that there were actually 6 terrorists.

“Crime scene done. This evening police post will be rebuilt, 6 terrorists were killed; others pursued,” he said, suggesting more than just 5 as Luhut declared.

6 TERRORISTS? A tweet by a Jakarta Metropolitan Police director says 6 terrorists died. Screenshot from @krishna_bd

In official statements however, the police supported Luhut’s count that there were only 5 terrorists – and that all of them were killed.

Attacker escaped?

But on Friday, a day after the attacks, Jakarta Metropolitan Police spokesman Sen. Comr. Muhammad Iqbal held a press conference wherein he released a chronology according to their investigations.

In that conference, Iqbal said there were 6 terrorists. At that point, the victims had yet to be identified.

In the chronology he presented, he said 6 men attempted to enter Sarinah mall but after police searched their backpacks and determined they were carrying bombs, the men were taken to the police post across the street.

At the police post, 3 of the men blew themselves up, while 3 others fled to the nearby Starbucks where two opened fire, he said.

Despite saying there were 6 terrorists however, the police stuck with their original statement and count, saying there were 5 terrorists that died – leaving one man unaccounted for. 

The discrepancy raised the question: did one attacker get away?

‘Likely’ a terorrist

The police count changed yet again on Saturday, January 16, two days after the attacks. This time, the victims had already been identified.

As questions swirled around the number of attackers, Iqbal again changed his statement saying there were only 5 terrorists. He said he never said there were 6, despite the chronology he released a day earlier.

“Who said that? I deny it,” he said at a press conference when asked why he said 6 before.

Iqbal also said that of the 7 who died, two were identified as civilians, 4 were terrorists, and the other one was “likely a terrorist.”

He released this list of victims:

Found in Police Station, 3:

  1. Rico Hernawan, Indonesian civilian
  2. Sugito (still unsure, whether a civilian or terrorist)
  3. Dian Juni Kurniadi, suspected terrorist

Found in front of Starbucks, 3:

  1. Muhammad Ali, suspected terrorist
  2. Afif alias Sunakin, suspected terrorist
  3. Amer Qali Tamer, Canadian, civilian

Inside Starbucks, 1:

  1. Ahmad Muhazan, suspected terrorist

The list disputed the previous chronology he released that said 3 suicide bombers blew themselves up at the police station.

It also raised questions as to why it was not clear whether Sugito was a terrorist or not, and whether there was a possibility that one terrorist got away, if Sugito turned out to be a civilian. (WATCH: What happened at the Jakarta attacks and the aftermath)

Asked about it, Iqbal’s answer was indirect.

“That’s just your conclusion. He is most likely a terrorist, we have a list and information, but there’s a new postmortem which may show he might be a civilian,” he said.

Cover up?

By Sunday morning, January 17, the police had identified Sugito as a civilian.

Thus, of the 7 who died on the day of the attacks, 4 were terrorists and 3 were civilians – 2 Indonesians, and a foreigner. Also on Sunday, police adjusted the death toll to 8 after a wounded Indonesian bystander died overnight.

Conveniently, the police also changed the number of perpetrators from 5 the previous day, to 4, after they only identified 4 of the 7 as terrorists.

“The number of perpetrators was 5, based on investigations that day. Having checked back with the team, there was doubt whether Sugito was a terrorist or a victim but he is definitely a victim,” Iqbal said.

The police continue to deny any terrorists escaped.

Witnesses: More than 4

Other police officials have raised the possibility of at least 6 terrorists.

Untung Sangaji, a former member of the counterterrorism agency Densus 88 and currently posted with Police Education and Training who was on the scene, said on Saturday that he saw two more people escape on a motorcycle towards Tanah Abang.

Sangaji was involved in the shootout with terrorists.

“Two people were wearing caps and backpacks. They both were on a motorcycle,” he said.

Iqbal denied any truth in Sangaji’s statement during the Saturday press conference, insisting there were only 5 as shown on CCTV cameras.

By Sunday however, after the police said 4 terrorists are dead, Sangaji’s statement may ring some truth if 2 others escaped – bringing the total of terrorists to 6, which was the police’s count on Friday.

As early as Thursday, Head of Police Public Relations Division Inspector General Anton Charliyan, also raised the possibility of more than 5 actors on the scene, based on witness accounts.

Immediately after the attacks, police told the public that all terorrists were captured and on Friday, President Joko Widodo inspected Sarinah mall and declared Jakarta was safe again and back to normal operations.

This, despite existing confusion regarding the investigation, and what actually happened during Jakarta’s most serious terrorist attack in 6 years. – Rappler.com

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