Fatal Jakarta Blasts: Top U.S. Terror Experts Point to al Qaeda-Connected Group

Coordinated bomb blasts ripped through two luxury hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, today leaving eight dead and over fifty wounded.

Indonesian security officials believe the attacks may have been carried out by suicide bombers. Jakarta's chief of police told reporters today that the suspected bombers were guests at one of the hotels.

Maj. Gen. Wahyono said the suspects stayed on the 18th floor of the Marriott hotel where un-detonated explosives were found.

"There were several perpetrators." Wahyono told reporters, "They were disguised as guests and stayed in room 1808."

The Ritz-Carlton and the Marriott, both frequented by foreigners, were hit within a few minutes of each other.

The death of one foreigner -- a New Zealand national -- has been confirmed and as many as thirteen others were among the wounded, including nationals from the United States, Australia, Canada, India, the Netherlands, Norway and South Korea.

"The State Department is working to help American citizens injured in the blast" according to a statement released earlier today.

This is the first major attack in Indonesia for four years.

A visibly upset Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, addressed his people in a televised speech and vowed to arrest and try the perpetrators.

"This action was carried out by a terrorist group, though it is too early to say if it is the same network." He said refering to the Islamic extremist group Jemayah Islamiya that has been held responsible for previous attacks in the country.

Senior U.S. officials ,who dealt directly with issues of terror in Indonesia, also say the bombings bear the trademarks of the al Qaeda-connected group Jemayah Islamiya, whose top bomb-maker, Noordin Top, has been at large and feared preparing a new attack.

Former White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, said the virtually simultaneous attacks and current intelligence point to the involvement of Top, whom he described as "one of the most wanted men in Asia."

Top and Jemayah Islamiya are believed to be responsible for several deadly attacks, including the Bali disco bombing in October, 2002, and a subsequent attack on the Marriott in Jakarta in 2003. Until those attacks, the government had been "in denial" about the homegrown group's ties to al Qaeda, but eventually led to what U.S. officials regarded as a "very effective" law enforcement effort to "decapitate" the leadership.

Indonesian and U.S. authorities thought the group had been effectively put out of business, and the bombings Friday in Jakarta have stunned the intelligence community, an indication that putting such al Qaeda-connected groups out of business for good is not easily accomplished.

A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told ABC News there had been "no serious threat reporting" in Indonesia in the last 18 months.

Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert based in Singapore tells ABC News that today's Jakarta attacks are "very likely the work of Noordin Mohammed Top." Gunaratna says Jemaah Islamiyah, Top's group, is "the only group intent and capable to pull off an attack like this."

According to the National Counterterrorism Center, Top, a Malaysian national, is a "charismatic" recruiter, leader and fundraiser for Jemayah Islamiya.

The U.S. Treasury Department and the UN Security Council have designated him a "terrorist financier."

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