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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Terrorist Group Bombs Jakarta Hotel

Aired August 5, 2003 - 19:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Stories from around the world to tell you about now.
A bombing Indonesia today killed at least 14 people, injured at least 100 more. Now, authorities think it may be the work of the same group that's behind last October's bombings in Bali.

We go now for latest information to CNN's Jakarta bureau chief, Maria Ressa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police say a car loaded with explosives drove through the taxi stand in front of the Marriott Hotel and kept heading straight for the lobby.

That was when the bomb detonated, its blast radius visible along the shattered windows of nearby buildings. The Indonesian police chief said the bomb was similar to the ones used in Bali last year, an attack which killed more than 200 people and blamed on the group Jemaah Islamiyah, or J.I.

ROHAN GONARATNA, AL QAEDA EXPERT: J.I. is al Qaeda's Southeast Asia arm. J.I. is an independent group. But because al Qaeda has corrupted the J.I. operational leadership, J.I. is also functioning as an extended arm of al Qaeda.

RESSA: since November, police here have arrested more than 40 suspected J.I. Members, Part of nearly 200 arrested in Southeast Asia.

But that hasn't stopped J.I.'s ability to plan and carry out more attacks. Besides Tuesday's blast, authorities have connected J.I. To other explosions recently in the Philippines and Indonesia.

SIDNEY JONES, INDONESIAN CRISIS GROUP: I don't think anybody knows what kind of dent they've made in the organization. That's part of the problem, is that nobody has a clue of how extensive this network actually is.

RESSA: Earlier authorities in the region had warned of more, perhaps larger, attacks after a J.I. operative escaped from a Philippine jail last month and weapons and explosives were recently discovered hidden in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Add to that the fact that the first verdict from the Bali trials is expected Thursday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RESSA: Police say arrests from recent weeks show that instead of hiding, J.I. operatives are actually raising money and planning more attacks.

The Marriott was a prime target. It's a favorite of the international community here in Jakarta. At this point intelligence officials say what they fear is that this may be followed by other similar attacks.

This is Maria Ressa, CNN, reporting live from Jakarta. Back to you.

COOPER: Maria, just one question. It's frightening in your piece to hear that analyst say basically no one knows how far their tentacles go in Indonesian society this group, Jemaah Islamiyah. How much popular support do they have?

RESSA: Well, part of the problem initially was that post-9/11 the Indonesian government actually denied, was in a state of denial about the presence of Jemaah Islamiyah within its borders.

It took the Bali blast in October 12, 2002, for the Indonesian government to actually take action against this network. And this is crucial, because Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and the war on terror here is really a battle for the soul of Islam between a very vocal but radical minority, and a large moderate majority.

So what we're seeing in recent weeks is really the Bali trial showing Indonesians that this network does exist. Many of them now believing it. A much stronger moderate voice speaking up against the radical minority.

COOPER: And I guess today, this bombing at the Marriott Hotel shows not only does this group exists, if it is, in fact, them who's responsible they are still quite capable of operating and causing terror.

Maria Ressa, thanks very much.

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