Indonesia (MNN) — A series of explosions and gun attacks in Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, has been claimed by ISIS.
It was described as an attempt to mimic the Paris attacks. Bruce Allen, of Forgotten Missionaries International confirms this. “Between Iraq and Cameroon recently, we’re just adding Jakarta to the list of prominent cities: Istanbul, San Bernardino, and Paris, where these attacks are taking place.”
It started with a suicide bombing outside a coffee shop in a major shopping district downtown and wound up in a gun battle and standoff. “The fact Islamic State took responsibility for it really was not a surprise. They’re very up front about their global ambitions,” says Allen. Hours after it began, when police finally had the situation under control, two civilians and five gunmen were dead.
ISIS released a statement online claiming the attacks, saying they were carried out by “soldiers of the Caliphate” targeting “citizens of the Crusader coalition” against the group.
That ISIS had the wherewithal to pull off the attack was unnerving. Plus, this was different: “All of these terrorists that were involved in these Jakarta attacks were Indonesians. In many ways, it wasn’t that some foreign terrorist group was perpetrating this. This was done by Indonesians.”
Indonesia has been on high alert over the New Year period after warnings that Islamists were planning a major attack.
Up to 200 Indonesians are estimated to have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS. Allen says those numbers have created deep concern in the Indonesian government. “They were concerned about when those militants come back home, will they just spread the policies and ideology of terrorism?
“An attack like this actually disturbs all Indonesians because most Indonesians really enjoy their peaceful coexistence with their neighbors.”
To quell rising fears, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo went on the air to address a frightened nation: “This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people. The state, the nation, and the people should not be afraid of, and be defeated by, such terror acts.”
Indonesians are facing the reality of a rooted terror group on their soil. While security concerns do pose a challenge, Allen adds, ”It actually opens up some doors for private conversation because when the Muslims are disturbed by what they see happening in their country, and they have questions, and they hear about the Prince of Peace, it opens doors for such conversations.” When the Christians are willing to engage in dialogue with their Muslim neighbors, fantastic things happen, he explains. “People come to faith in Jesus Christ. They’re willing to leave Islam and learn what the Truth is and experience what hope and forgiveness there is in the Gospel.”
Roughly 30 Indonesian church planters and evangelists supported by FMI are still going about their business. Security conscious? Yes. “Pray for their steadfastness, because it is very wearying when you know you’re the minority,” says Allen. “You know you’re looked down upon by so many people. You hear about terrorism on the rise in your own country, and that frightens you.”
Pastors are people, too. “Pray that the pastors who have to give leadership to the congregation…are fortified because they may, themselves, be a little frightened.”