The attack in Jakarta on Thursday was as much a battle of images and perceptions as it was an exchange of gunfire and explosions, which is likely to have an impact on tourist flows into the country.
The Australian government has reiterated a warning about travelling to Indonesia, while the Canadian government website says “There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Indonesia. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to a continuing threat of terrorist attacks throughout the country.”
Indonesia’s counterterrorism effort has had significant success over several years in degrading the capabilities of domestic militants to launch deadly attacks, creating a sense that the battle against Islamic militants was largely won. On one level, the attack in Jakarta was an attempt to change that narrative and re-instill fear.
A Canadian man was killed in Indonesia’s capital Thursday when gunmen launched a series of co-ordinated attacks including at a Starbucks.
Indonesian police have arrested three men on suspicion of links to the brazen attacks in the heart of the country’s capital, and said they recovered a flag of the Islamic State group from the home of one of the attackers.
The discovery of the flag bolsters authorities’ claim that the attack Thursday was carried out by the Islamic State group, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq and whose ambition to create an Islamic caliphate has attracted 30,000 foreign fighters from around the world, including a few hundred Indonesians and Malaysians.